Five memorable exhibitions of 2020

“Leonardo da Vinci” at the Louvre

The result of ten years of work by two Louvre curators, Vincent Delieuvin and Louis Frank, this retrospective organized for the 500e anniversary of the painter’s death, had attracted 1.1 million visitors, when it closed at the end of February 2020. Despite the refusal of loans from several foreign museums, especially Italian ones, nine paintings and nearly 90 drawings by Leonardo were confronted with it. to the works that influenced him, then to the creations of his disciples. The first room bringing together the drapery drawings of the young virtuoso facing the superb bronze of The Incredulity of St. Thomas of his master Verrocchio remains etched in our memories!

To extend this event, the remarkable catalog clarifies the artist’s biography, explores the mysteries of his creation (480 p. 35 €, Louvre / Hazan). A beautiful movie A night at the Louvre: Leonardo da Vinci shot in the exhibition by Pathé Live, should also be reprogrammed in the cinema in 2021. Finally, a conference given by the two curators of the retrospective is available on the site louvre.fr.

“Van Eyck. An optical revolution ”at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent (Belgium)

What a pity that this fabulous exhibition was interrupted by the containment of spring! Exceptionally unhooked from Ghent Cathedral and meticulously restored, the exterior shutters of the Altarpiece of the Mystic Lamb could be admired there from very close, as well as ten other paintings by Jan van Eyck.

→ CRITICAL. Light found by Jan Van Eyck

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The opportunity to measure as never before the Flemish genius of the beginning of the 15th century, both realistic and ultra-refined, mastering both trompe-l’oeil, miniature, and the luminous glazes of the new oil painting . The catalog published by Hannibal editions and already practically exhausted, is still offered for sale by a few Belgian sites.

Fortunately, a 360-degree virtual tour on the site of the Ghent museum allows you to find the entirety of this event exhibition, rich in 120 works, with the audio guide’s comments in French. The museum even offers another visit suitable for children.

“William Kentridge, A poem which is not ours” at Lam de Villeneuve-d’Ascq

We fell in love with this retrospective dedicated to the great South African artist, William Kentridge. First of all, because this formidable designer and director, haunted by Apartheid and decolonization, is too rarely shown in France.

Secondly, because this initiative comes from a regional museum, the dynamic Lam de Villeneuve d’Ascq, which offered the artist nearly half of its spaces to display his work. Finally because William Kentridge generously lent himself to the game, agreeing to reveal the whole range of his art, from his first drawings to his staging models, his animated films and his large installations, not to mention unpublished works and even charcoals drawn on the picture rails.

All beautifully staged by her accomplice Sabine Theunissen, in a journey that is both theatrical and immersive. In short, a real success which, a rare virtue of confinement, could be extended from February until the end of October 2020. If despite everything you missed it, the catalog has several voices, under the direction of Sébastien Delot and Marie-Laure Bernadac, remains a nice consolation prize (Flammarion, 196 p. 35 €).

“The Olmecs and the cultures of the Gulf of Mexico” at the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum

Rest assured: if you missed its brief opening last October, the exhibition on the Olmecs at the Musée du Quai-Branly in Paris is scheduled until July 25, 2021! More than 300 archaeological pieces have been loaned for the occasion by Mexican museums, most of which had never left the country.

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→ CRITICAL. “The Olmecs and the Cultures of the Gulf of Mexico”, the precursors of Mesoamerica

Colossal basalt statues but also exceptional ritual objects in jade, terracotta statuettes tell the story of the high culture of this “rubber people” who invented, between the 2nd millennium and 400 years before our era, a form of writing , a calendar and the first pyramids of Mesoamerica. His influence on the peoples who succeeded him throughout the Gulf of Mexico is also traced through a rich collection of objects and sculptures.

While waiting for the museums to reopen, three videos produced with Steve Bourget, curator of the exhibition, give a first glimpse of the YouTube channel of the Quai-Branly Museum and of course the fascinating catalog, co-published with Skira (256 p., 45 €).

“Black and White: an aesthetic of photography” at the Grand Palais

Postponed three times since last spring, we hope that 2021 will finally allow the opening to the public of this magnificent exhibition highlighting the thousand shades of black and white. More than 300 prints by 205 artists from the collections of the National Library of France embrace 150 years of photography history.

Chosen for the aesthetic and plastic strength of their research, the biggest names in photography from the 19th century to the present day rub shoulders: Eugène Atget, Imogen Cunningham, Man Ray, Diane Arbus, Daido Moriyama, Valérie Belin … Until the Great Palace reopens its doors, an online offer offers videos, texts, images and games around the exhibition. The catalog presents a selection of the greatest masterpieces on display. (1).

Putting people in the spotlight, RATP also offers a glimpse of it: photographs by Willy Ronis, Jane Evelyn Atwood, Flor Garduño and Henri Cartier-Bresson can be viewed in thirteen stations until February 2021.

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