Trompe l’oeil: American Still Life at the Louvre


Joseph Biays Ord, Still Life with Shells, c.1840


The Simple Pleasures of Still Life is the final instalment of the ‘American Encounters’ series of exhibitions, a collaboration between the Louvre, the High Museum of Art, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Terra Foundation for American Art. It is a small exhibition of 10 paintings tucked away at the far end of the Denon wing, but worth the detour for an insight into how the genre of still life has developed across the pond.

Continue reading here.

American Encounters: The Simple Pleasures of Still Life is at the Louvre until 27/04/15

National Museum of Women in the Arts wins Simone de Beauvoir prize


National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC


Paris has seen some excellent exhibitions dedicated to women artists in recent months: Kati Horna at the Jeu de Paume, Niki de Saint Phalle (at the Grand Palais until February 2), Sonia Delaunay (at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris until February 22).

But France doesn’t have anything like the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the only institution in the world dedicated solely to women artists.

The French appear to have been paying attention however, with the NMWA recieving this year’s Simone de Beauvoir prize. The prize is awarded annually to individuals or groups fighting for gender equality. In January 2014, the Prize was awarded to Michelle Perrot and in 2013 to Malala Yousafzai.

“The National Museum of Women in the Arts is extremely honored to receive the prestigious Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “NMWA is dedicated to providing a platform for women’s free expression and filling the void in recognition of women artists past, present and future.”

The NMWA, founded in Washington DC in 1981, is the first American organisation to receive the prize, testament to its international reach and its unique mission.

Camille Morineau, curator of the Niki de Saint Phalle show, as well as elles@centre pompidou, an exhibition dedicated to women artists who feature in the Pompidou’s permanent collections, said: “NMWA deserves to be selected as it is a completely unique place in the world, which shelters women artists, their works, their history and their narratives; encourages research and a critical point of view; and welcomes curators like me who try to change the paradigms in art history,”

The prize will be awarded on January 9th at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris. The jury is chaired by Josyane Savigneau of Le Monde and includes Julia Kristeva (professor at Paris Diderot University, writer and psychoanalyst), Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir (honorary president) amongst other public figures.


Laure Prouvost’s French Debut at Nathalie Obadia

Laure ProuvostLaure Prouvost

This is the Visit is the first solo exhibition in France of Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost. It is a whimsical and entertaining continuation of her Turner Prize project, Wantee (2013). Prouvost weaves a narrative of her fictional grandparents through objects, video and wall hangings. This is the Visit evokes a visitor centre, leading viewers around the space on an elevated walkway. This idea in itself is novel and vaguely kitsch in its conjuring of memories of visitor centres past. The strangeness is compounded by the fact that centre is supposedly built by her grandmother and grandchildren for her missing (fictional?) grandfather. Fiction meets reality meets humour meets embroidered tea towels and surreal wall texts…

Laure Provoust, This is the Visit is on at Galerie Nathalie Obadia until 31/10/14


Gilbert and George at Thaddaeus Ropac (Pantin)

Gilbert and George Pantin

Gilbert and George have placed themselves at the centre of their art since they met in 1967. Their new series of photo-collages at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Pantin, ‘Scapegoat pictures for Paris’ (following ‘Scapegoating pictures for London’ at White Cube Bermondsey) sees the duo fragmented, distorted and melding into the cityscapes around them. An urban cacophony of youth, pavements, buses, hooded figures, niqabs, mannequins, railings, trees and – everywhere – threatening-looking canisters.

Full review here

Scapegoat pictures for Paris is on at Thaddaeus Ropac (Pantin) until 15/11/14

Paris 1900 at the Petit Palais


Poster for the Palais de l’optique, Exposition Universelle, Paris 1900


The Petit Palais opened for the Exposition Universelle in spring 1900 (as did the Grand Palais and the Pont Alexandre III), making it the perfect location for Paris 1900, a sumptuous aesthetic exploration of the Belle Époque.

The exhibition opens with early film footage, taken by the Lumière brothers, of visitors ascending the steps to the Petit Palais in 1900, all cinched waists, hats and parasols. Film footage punctuates the exhibition throughout, often displayed in mirrored passages which capture something of the whirling excitement of the time. In one film, visitors even hop on and off a moving walkway between exhibition sites (any modern-day visitor to Paris who has the misfortune to pass through blighted Châtelet or Montparnasse will say moving walkways in Paris 2014 have lost some of their je ne sais quoi).

Full review here

Paris 1900 is on at the Petit Palais until 17/08/14

Bill Viola at the Grand Palais

Bill Viola Ascension

Bill VIola, Ascension, 2000, © Bill Viola Studio / Photo: Kira Perov


The Bill Viola retrospective in Paris is the first major video art exhibition to be held in a national museum of France. In the hands of Viola there is something elemental to this high-tech medium. The dark galleries of the Grand Palais are illuminated by videos of water, fire, weather and universal human experience.

Full review here.

Bill Viola is on at the Grand Palais until 21/07/14

Ivan Argote, Strengthlessness, at Galerie Perrotin


Ivan Argote, Hangover and Extasy, 2014


Strengthlessness is Ivan Argote’s second solo show at Perrotin’s Marais gallery. Not bad going for an artist just 30 years-young. His previous show in 2011, Caliente, was a refreshing mix of youth, rebelliousness and humour (reviewed here). It was a joy to see such a successful gallery give so much space to a young talent.

Strengthlessness by contrast seems sterile and uninteresting. The largest piece is a sculpture of a flacid obelisk, entitled Hangover and Extasy. The allusions are obvious but the massive concrete and gold leaf sculpture has little impact on the viewer. In another room, a 3 minute video “Blind Kittens” sees lion statues brought to life in a bizarre animation. Symbols of power subverted? Maybe but there is something cringeworthy about this clumsy allegory. According to the blurb Argote’s “naivety is false”, if so then what are the depths behind this naive front?

Help me out here! Go see for yourselves: Strengthlessness is on at Galerie Perrotin until 01/03/14

Serge Poliakoff at the Musee d’art moderne


Serge Poliakoff, Espace orangé, © Liège, Musée des Beaux-Arts (BAL) © ADAGP, Paris 2013


‘Every great painter works on a single theme’ Serge Poliakoff wrote in Pensées. The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris’ retrospective, Serge Poliakoff, Le Rêve des Formes, is organised chronologically, chronicling the subtle shifts in Poliakoff’s exploration of abstraction, his own particular direction.

Full review here

Serge Poliakoff, Le Rêve des Formes is on at the Musee d’art moderne de la ville de Paris until 23/02/14

Robert Wilson brings Lady Gaga to the Louvre

Not sure what to make of Lady Gaga being in the Louvre (her take on David’s Death of Marat is in one of the busiest intersections behind the Mona Lisa and between the large format French masters) but you have to admire her taking dressing up to another level. And her ability to stand/lie still – you don’t realise her version of Ingres’ Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière is a video until you see it disconcertingly blink.

Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 4.17.41 PM

gaga ingres

Lady Gaga 2013/ Ingres, Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière, 1806

gaga solario

Lady Gaga 2013 / Andrea Solario, Head of John the Baptist, 1507


On at the Louvre until 17/02/14 as part of Living Rooms.

Philippe Parreno takes on the Palais de Tokyo

Parreno Palais de Tokyo

Philippe Parreno, Marquee, 2013

Anywhere, Anywhere, Out of the World, Philippe Parreno’s show at the Palais de Tokyo is a weird experience. The artist tackles the very idea of an exhibition, seeing the whole as a work of art rather than a collection of pieces. The show begins at the entrance, with Marquee, a light awning above the door, takes in the ticket desk, also reconfigured into a wall of light for the exhibition and continues on the ground floor and on into parts of the cavernous basement.

The different spaces are divided by walls of video, dark then light, warm then cold, with moving walls and bookcases and flickering lights (no warning for epileptics but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is sensitive to flashing lights…). One piece, Danny La Rue, is a completely dark room with light sculptures which flash on and off in a rhythm programmed by the music of Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka. Four automated pianos, also playing Petrushka, punctuate the space.

The show also includes collaborations with Pierre Huyge (of pink-legged dog fame) and recent Turner prize nominee Tino Sehgal.

Movement, snow, unexpected snippets of performance and a lack of wall texts or explanation makes you feel you may have fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole. The visitor is part of this “choreography”, only nobody has been told the dance moves. A baffling and amusing exhibition-experience.




Philippe Parreno: Anywhere, Anywhere, Out of the World is on at the Palais de Tokyo until 12/01/14