Gauguin, the alchemist, 11 October 2017–22 January 2018, Grand Palais. Paul Gauguin, the stockbroker who gave it all up to paint, first in Brittany and then, more adventurously, in Tahiti, is sure to attract plenty of visitors to the venue off the Champs-Elysées. A bumper crop of 230 works has been harvested from the Art Institute of Chicago and Paris’s Orsay and Orangerie museums. His works may have been hard to sell in his lifetime, post-impressionist colours and forms, married to exotic subject matter are crowd-pleasers today.
Irving Penn centennial, 21 September 2017-29 January 2018, Grand Palais. If you think Irving Penn was just a fashion photographer, think again. New York’s Moma has helped the Grand Palais assemble a collection of his carefully posed shots of street kids in Cuzco, mud men in New Guinea, girls in what was then the French colony of Dahomey (now Benin) and still lives, not forgetting the celebs and the glamour.
César retrospective, 13 December 2017-26 March 2018, Pompidou Centre. César Baldaccini, who died 20 years ago, gained artworld notoriety for his compressions – crushed cars and other objects – and his expansions – polyurethane tipped out of bins so that it expanded into surprisingly elegant blobs. You may be intrigued to learn that he belonged to a movement called the New Realists, who had their own interpretation of realism. There were also giant thumbs and fists. The early figures made from welded scrap found in the Paris suburbs, which have something in common with the early work of British artist Eduardo Paolozzi and other contemporaries, seem to reflect a zeitgeist affected by the threat of nuclear war, which may have a certain resonance in our own troubled times.
Derain, the radical decade, 4 October 2017-29 January 2018, Pompidou Centre. André Derain was at his most daring between 1904 and 1914, according to the exhibition’s organisers. That was when he was going wild with fellow fauves Matisse and Vlaminck, using the violent colours and free forms that gained them their nickname.
Picasso 1932: année érotique, 10 October 2017-11 February 2018, Musée Picasso. Sex sells and the Picasso museum, all of whose exhibitions have to be a bit eponymous, has decided to use carnal desire to promote its latest show on the great man’s work in what it claims was an “erotic year”. There’s also a reference to Serge Gainsbourg in there, so that should attract the ageing French rocker market. One might think that pretty much every year was erotic to the author of the Vollard Suite (1930-37) and La Douceur (1903). Let’s see if the revamped Paris museum makes good on its promise or is just being a bit of a tease. Plus Picasso 1947, 24 0ctober 2017-27 January 2018, which features 10 works donated by Paris to a French modern art museum in that year.
Being modern: MoMa in Paris, 11 October 2017-5 March 2018, Fondation Louis Vuitton. With at least four shows relying heavily on loans from American museums, gone are the days when the French used to complain about US “cultural imperialism”. Here’s the MoMa again, this time at the Franck Gehry-designed handbag magnate’s foundation. With 200 works – from Signac to Stella, from Magritte to Mies - on show here, one wonders if there’s anything left to see in New York. With the additional help of archive material, the exhibition promises to trace the history of “one of the first museums devoted exclusively to the visual arts of the time” from its opening in 1929 to bang-up-to-date stuff from Kerry James Marshall and Lele Saveri.
Pop art - Icons that matter
Pop art – Icons that matter, 22 September 2017-21 January 2018. Musée Maillol. Worst. Exhibition. Title. Ever. Not the pop art bit, which has the virtue of being accurate. But “icons”? Isn’t it time to take that word to the tired cliché compound and put it down? Unless we’re talking about Russian Orthodox religious art, of course, which we’re not in this case. And, if you inisist on using it, Musée Maillol, what icons don’t matter? In another surge of the American invasion, the Whitney Museum has leant the Maillol works by pop precursors like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, big US pop names like Warhol, Oldenburg, Rosenquist and Lichtenstein and lesser-known figures, like George Segal, Rosalyn Drexler and May Stevens.
Monet collectionneur, 14 September 2017-14 January 2018, Musée Marmottan. As well as painting the work that gave impressionism its name, currently on loan from the Marmottan to the Museum of Modern Art in Le Havre, Claude Monet collected his contemporaries' products. There are paintings, sculptures and drawings by Delacroix, Manet, Renoir, Caillebotte, Cézanne, Pissaro, Rodin, to name but a few, here.
The art of the pastel from Degas to Redon, 15 September 2017-8 April 2018, Petit Palais. The small but charming museum shows 150 of its 200-strong collection of pastels, which makes you wonder why they left the other 50 out. The medium reached its apogee in the 19th century, which is the Petit Palais’s speciality, so we have works by Degas, Cassat, Morisot, Renoir, Gauguin, as well as symbolists and society painters.
Mali Twist, 20 October 2017-February 2018, Fondation Cartier. A year after the death of Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, the Fondation Cartier, which staged the first show exclusively devoted to his work outside Africa in 1995, presents the photos of Bamako nightlife that made his name, as well as portraits and other pictures found in his archives.
Dada Africa, 18 October 2017-19 February 2018, Musée de l’Orangerie. A surprising choice for the Orangerie – seems more like the Quai Branly’s bag - the show is misleadingly named as its subtitle “Non-Western sources and influences” makes a little clearer. The Dadaists were the punks of the World War I generation and back then turning to Africa, Oceania and Native American art was pretty damn rebellious. On the walls there’ll be visual art, including not only Dada works but also African, Japanese and Maori pieces. There will also be Dada soirées – films, music, shouting through megaphones, that sort of thing – and works by two contemporary African artists, Athi-Patra Ruga and Otobang Nkanga.
Rubens’s royal portraits, 4 October 2017-14 January 2018, Musée du Luxembourg. Altogether more staid fare at the French Senate’s museum. It features portraits of royalty by Peter-Paul Rubens, who was, “doubtless reluctantly”, a great court painter according to the French Republic’s curators. He painted Philippe IV of Spain, Louis XIII of France and Marie de Médicis. There are also works by his contemporaries, including Velesquez, Van Dyck and Philippe de Champaigne.
The Hansens' Secret Garden, 15 September 2017-22 January 2018, Musée Jacquemart-André. The Orupgaard collection in Copenhagen was put together by Wilhelm and Henny Hansen, a wealthy art-loving couple. It's an impressive assembly of French 19th and 20th-century art - Corot, Cézanne, Monet , Matisse and more.