Friday, November 23, 2012

From Raphael to Hopper in Paris

Paris 2012 autumn cultural scene is packed with exciting  museum exhibitions.  On my recent trip to The City of Light  I had a hard time picking which show to view as I had an activity filled week with my travel group .    I did manage to sneak in three - Edward Hopper, Canaletto in Venice, and  Raphael' Mature Years.

Raphael's  Mature  Years at Louvre Museum
Bindo Atoviti- Raphael
On show for the first time, this  exhibition is organized by the Louvre in partnership with the Prado Museum..  It assembles  works produced by the Renaissance Master, Raphael Senzio,  during the later years of his short life (1483-1520)

In all some 100 paintings, alterpieces, drawings and a tapestry are on display retracing the development of Raphael's art together with that of two of his closest assistants, Guilio Romano and Gianfrancesco Penni.  Though Raphael's Madonnas are so exquisite (i.e. Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist), I found his portraits entrancing such  as Baldassare Castiglione or the portrait of Bindo Altoviti. (Louvre Museum till January 14, 2013)

Canaletto in Venice at  Musee Maillol

Canaletto- Musee Maillol

Next, I went on a pictorial journey to Venice at the delightful Musee Maillol where the works of Antonio Canal (Canaletto) are on display.  This is a first time that an exhibit entirely dedicated to the eighteen century Venitian artist takes place in Paris. Some 40 paintings representing the Venitian landscape are on display  on loan from private collections and major museums. Also on view are the artist sketchbook  and a replica of the  Camera Obscura used by Canaletto. I enjoyed staring at the cityscapes of Venice 300 years ago with the familiar landmarks  like the Grand Canal, Saint Mark's Square and Basilica, Doge's Palace , the Rialto Bridge and seeing people go about their daily business or partaking at festivals and fetes galantes. (Musee Maillol till February 10, 2013)

Edward Hopper at the Galleries Nationales du Grand Palais
Chop Suey- Edward Hopper 
The lines were long to get into the Grand Palais' exhibit of American artist Edward Hopper.  I had to wait an hour outside despite having bought the  'skip the line" ticket in advance.  This is the first Hopper retrospective held in Paris and it is a crowd pleaser.  It reviews the artist's career, starting when he came to Paris in 1906 and subsequently in 1909 and 1910 where he was influenced by the impressionists like Degas and the contemporary art of his time.  Many of his paintings in Paris were painted in plein-air in the fashion of the Impressionists whom he admired - Tugboat at the Boulevard Saint Michel (1907; Whitney Museum; New York).  From 1910 he worked as an illustrator in New York and many of his magazine illustrations are present at the exhibit.  I particularly enjoyed his light infused watercolors of rural New England -its seascapes and architecture of neo-Victorian houses that brought him commercial success.   But what most enthralled the French crowd at the exhibit were his paintings of American urban life of the early to mid 20th century .  Chop Suey (1929), Nighthawks (1942),  Early Sunday Morning (1930), Gas (1940), Hotel Lobby (1943), New York Office (1962).  Many exude a sense of isolation, alienation and a feeling of melancholy.
(Grand Palais till January 28)

Edward Manet- Jeune Dame
Musee d'Orsay
Well that was enough for a week but I had wished I could have also viewed Impressionism and Fashion at the Musee d'Orsay (till January 20, 2013) .  I tried to get in but the lines through security were too long and I gave up.  I might be lucky and catch this traveling exhibit when it comes to the states -- first to New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from February 19-27 and then to the Art Institute of Chicago from June 30- September 22, 2013.   

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