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Culture

Art exhibitions in Paris, February-September 2016

media Paul Klee, Insula dulcamara, 1938 Public domain/CC

Two of this season’s art shows in Paris are real biggies – the Douanier Rousseau at the Musée d’Orsay and Paul Klee at the Pompidou Centre. Plus the revamped Picasso museum looks at the great man’s sculptures, there are Matisses, Maleviches and Mondrians at the Fondation Louis Vuitton and you can learn how to be strangely human at Quai Branly.

The surprise announcement that the private Pinacothèque de Paris is to close has knocked one address off the gallery-goer’s list. We may have to travel to Singapore to view its permanent collection. But there is still plenty going on in the Paris art world.

The Douanier Rousseau. Archaic candour. Musée d’Orsay, 22 March-17 July 2016. "You and I," Henri Rousseau told Pablo Pïcasso at a dinner in his honour in 1908, "are the two most important artists of the age - you in the Egyptian style, and I in the modern one." Picasso, along with his friends, laughed at the amateur painter’s declaration but that didn’t stop them collecting his work. It still has enormous power, especially giant canvases like War, or Discord on Horseback and The Dream. Known as the Douanier (customs officer) because he had worked in a toll booth, Rousseau is history’s best-known naïf painter. The show looks at his “inspirations” and “interconnections”, not only Picasso but also Delaunauy, Kandinsky and Seurat.

Paul Klee: L’ironie à l’œuvre, Centre Pompidou, 6 April-1 August. Irony is terribly fashionable these days and where better to look for it than in the work of an early 20th-century German painter? Well, Paul Klee did have humour – of the gentle variety, like his colours and the playful forms he took from children’s drawings and what would become known as outsider art. Among the most individualist of modernists, Klee hung out at the Bauhaus but was a school all to himself. With nearly 250 works on the walls, this is the first Klee retrospective in Paris since 1969. Plus a brilliant show of the work of another German artist, Anselm Kiefer, who is happily still alive and creating, runs until 18 April.

Picasso. Sculptures, Musée Picasso, 8 March-28 August. The Picasso museum reopening in October, after five years’ closure for refurbishment, was preceded by an unholy row involving the family, the then culture minister and the director. Now the dust has settled, it opens a show of Picasso’s sculptures, following Picasso Sculpture at New York’s Moma, which closes in February. You can compare and contrast various versions of some of his work in three dimensions, a “rarely studied” aspect, the organisers assure us.

Video: Malian photographer Seydou Keïta

Carambolages, Grand Palais, 2 March-4 July. This show’s title comes from billiards – carambolage being a cannon, when a ball hits two more balls. The blurb goes on to mix its recreational metaphors by comparing the concept to a game of dominos. Whatever, the idea is that one work has something in common with the next and takes us on a voyage of associations across epochs, countries and styles. Judging by the presentation on the website, it actually looks quite fun and features works by Rembrandt, Man Ray, Boucher, Giacometti, Annette Messager and anonymous artists from less author-conscious times and places. Plus Seydou Keïta “now recognised as one of the greatest photographers of the second half of the 20th century”, who recorded Malian society after independence from French colonialism. And Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, a Portuguese artist who was pals with Modigliani, Brancusi and the Delaunays, has his first major retrospective since 1958. Let’s hope he’s worth reviving.

And a date for your diaries, Monumenta 2016, Nef du Grand Palais, 8 May-18 June. Every year since 2007 an artist has been invited to fill – well, have a go at filling, anyway – the enormous space in the Seineside venue. This year Chinese avant-gardiste Huang Yong Ping follows in the footsteps of Anselm Kieffer, Anish Kapoor, Daniel Buren etc. We’re promised “a spectacular installation that is a reflection on the transformation of our world”.

Video: Portuguese painter Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso

Georges Desvallières, Petit Palais, 15 March-17 July. Over the road another reputation is revived. Traumatised by fighting in World War I, Desvallières returned to his Christian faith and became an exponent of religious art, along with (the better-known) Maurice Denis. His work “evokes the violence of combat and the sorrow of mourning” with a bit of Bible, as well.

Daido Moriyama, Daido Tokyo and Fernell Franco Cali Clair-Obscur, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, 6 February-5 June. Two photographers - one Japanese, the other Colombian – on show at the stylish Fondation Cartier. Both mix the documentary with the almost abstract in recording street furniture, sex shops and lots of pipes in the Japanese capital or the brothels, billiard halls and decaying apartment buildings of one of Colombia’s drugs capitals. Daido provides a natural-sound backing track that should appeal to radio buffs to a hypnotic black-and-white slide show that supplements his colour displays, while Franco has a salsa soundtrack for his moody view of the passing of time in his hometown.

Keys to a passion, Fondation Louis Vuitton, 1 April-6 July. Another stylish venue, designed by Frank Gehry, boasts of a “select choice” of modernist works by star names such as Malevich, Mondrian, Rothko, Léger, Munch, Dix, Matisse, Giacometti, Severini … Plus Bentu, Chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation, 27 January-2 May 2016, features 12 artists of different generations from mainland China.

Chefs d’œuvre de Budapest, 9 March-10 July, Musée du Luxembourg. Since the Hungarian capital’s Museum of Fine Art is closed for renovation it has shipped some of its finest works to Paris, as has the Hungarian National Gallery. Which is nice, since we get the chance to see works by Dürer, Greco, Cranach, Tiepolo, Manet, Gauguin … there are even 10 “emblematic” works of Hungarian art.

Persona, Strangely Human
, Musée du Quai Branly, 26 January-13 November. “Who are you?” asks the video posted on the museum’s website. “How does the inanimate become animate? How do people establish an unusual or intimate relationship with objects?” asks the blurb. “What’s this all about?” you’re probably asking. A group of anthropologists “addressed the issues” at Paris’s premier museum of non-European art.

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