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Special exhibits in Ghent and Paris

Le carnet de France

By Martine P. Dulles

Spring is coming, as you know and — maybe amid all the troubles (Gilets Jaunes, strikes and now the coronavirus!) — you may be planning on coming to France.

Let’s first take the train from the Paris Gare du Nord to Ghent in Belgium (a two-hour train ride) to visit the exhibit everyone is raving about this season: The Ghent Altarpiece entitled “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb,” by the brothers Hubert and Jan Van Eyck finished in 1432.

Some critics claim it is THE most beautiful painting in the world. On top of that, it is also quite an enigma and it has an eventful history. This large altarpiece contains 18 panels and measures 11.5 feet high by 15 feet wide when opened. In 2012, officials decided to restore this masterpiece and the work was predicted to take 18 months. Well, at the end of 2019, two-thirds of the restoration had been completed, mostly the outside panels of the chef-d’oeuvre. Before the rest of the restoration starts at the end of this year, The Ghent Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) and the city of Ghent decided to organize the largest-ever exhibit of Van Eyck art, which will be open until April 30, 2020.

After its complete restoration, planned for 2024, the altarpiece will return to its original location in the Cathedral Saint-Bavon in Ghent. It will then be more difficult to admire since it will be higher up behind the altar. The website “Lukas-art-in-Flanders” (https://lukasweb.be/en) shows fine details of the restoration of the altarpiece — the faces and expressions are extraordinary – definitely worth looking at.

Italian art in Paris

Now we leave the Flemish art in Belgium to realize that, in Paris, Italian art is in favor at the moment: The Grand Palais will present “Pompéi”, showing archeological and other new discoveries. This exhibit will take place from the March 25 until the June 8. The Grand Palais will soon be closed for renovation.

The Musée Marmottan-Monet in the 16th Arrondissement has “Cézanne et les maîtres. Rêve d’Italie” on exhibit. It demonstrates the influence of the Italian painters of the 15th century (Tintoretto, Giardano and others) on Cézanne, and in return, how Cézanne influenced some the 20th century Italian artists such as Morandi, Boccioni, etc. The exhibit will run until July 5.

At the Musée du Louvre, from the May 6 until the August 17 is an exhibit of Italian Sculptors from the Renaissance: “Le Corps et l’âme: sculpture de la Renaissance en Italie de Donatello à Michel-Ange.”

“Botticelli, un laboratoire de la Renaissance” will be hung at the Musée Jacquemart-André, 158 Boulevard Haussmann in the 8th arrondissement from the September 11, 2020 until the January 25, 2021.

From modern art to fashionable footwear

An event that has been long expected and delayed a few times is the opening of the new François Pinault Foundation in the restored Bourse de Commerce de Paris, now scheduled sometime this summer. François Pinault, a highly successful entrepreneur and a major collector of contemporary art, already owns two spaces in Venice: the Palazzo Grassi and the tip of the Punta della Dogana.

He has asked his favorite architect, the Japanese Tadao Andō, to redesign the Bourse de Commerce in Paris. The first construction of this monument dates from the 16th century. Located in the heart of Paris, near the Halles (the Paris food market until 1968), its use as a financial exchange became obsolete after the food market moved to Rungis in the suburbs of Paris near the Orly Airport. Fortunately, Monsieur Pinault purchased the building, and we are now going to have a major contemporary art museum showing the owner’s collections as well as temporary exhibits.

The Centre Pompidou, from March 18 until June 15, will show drawings of the “wrapping” of Paris by “Christo and Jeanne Claude,” his deceased wife.

Another modern art exhibit will be hung at the Musée d’Art Modern de la ville de Paris, 11 avenue du Président Wilson in the 16th Arrondissement: “Joseph and Anni Albers,” American artists. It will take place from the October 9, 2020 to the February 21, 2021.

If you are coming in March and you are interested in drawings (ancient and modern), do not miss the yearly Salon du Dessin created in 1991. It will be held from March 25-30, at the Palais Brongniart, Place de la Bourse in the Second Arrondissement. This is the 19th Century Palais ordered by Napoleon I, used to house the French Stock Exchange until 1987. The Palais alone is worth the visit; 39 international art galleries will present their works.

And let’s finish à la mode et en beauté:

The Palais Galliera is another magnificent place, which houses the Musée de la mode de la ville de Paris, at 10 avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie in the 16th Arrondissement. Closed for the last two years for renovation, it is reopening on April 4 with an exhibit of Coco Chanel’s creations. The Palais Galliera dates from the late 19th century, and its renovation has been financed by the Maison Chanel.

Betty Catroux, who was Yves Saint Laurent’s muse and a model, gave her clothes to the Musée Yves Saint-Laurent Paris, situated at 5 avenue Marceau in the 16th Arrondissement. You can admire them from the March 3 until the October 11.

To visit all these interesting exhibits and many more, you need good shoes. For the first time, the very famous French chausseur (footwear designer), Christian Louboutin, is having a retrospective exhibit until the July 26 at the Palais de la Porte Dorée, 293 avenue Daumesnil in the 12th Arrondissement. According to Monsieur Louboutin, “A shoe has much more to offer than just walking.”

I wish you wonderful promenades and visits.

Martine P. Dulles lives in Tours, in the Loire Valley of France. She was a docent at the MET in New York and later a licensed tour guide in Charleston, where she and her husband lived for 11 years. She now organizes bespoke guided tours in France and may be reached at mpd@dullesdeleu.com.

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