12 October, 2012–17 February, 2013
Musée d’Art moderne
de la Ville de Paris
11 avenue du Président Wilson
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10–18h
Thursday until 10pm
T 01 53 67 40 00
This exhibition at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris shows how deeply artists changed the form and content of art in France in the climate of threat and penury of the years 1938–47. Ten powerful sequences comprising almost 400 works by over a hundred artists are backed up by film and other documentary material.
By way of introduction, the International Exhibition of Surrealism of January 1938 seems premonitory in a context of looming danger André Breton and Marcel Duchamp described as “sombre” and “stifling”. In France’s many internment camps, prisons and, soon, hideouts, creativity forged resolutely ahead: works of survival that express the despair-driven energy of artists like Bellmer, Brauner, Ernst, Freundlich, Gotko, Gumichian, Hamelin, Kolos-Vary, Lévy, Nussbaum, Payen, Prieto, Rosenthal, Salomon, Soos, Springer, Taslitzky, Warszawski, Wols and others who used wax, string, stone, music paper and packaging in adapting their creative process and materials to the circumstances of the time.
On the heels of the Phony War and France’s defeat came Nazi occupation and the Vichy regime, with artists condemned to the new realities of the “dark days” and, for some of them—Arp, Brauner, Sonia Delaunay, Hausmann, Magnelli, Masereel, Räderscheidt, Steib, Taeuber, Tita—concealment in places like Marseille, Grasse, Sanary and Dieulefit. The most visible part of the Paris scene was dominated by the established masters—Matisse, Picasso, Bonnard, Rouault and their followers, the “young painters in the French tradition”, like Bazaine, Estève, Fougeron, Lapicque, Manessier and Singier.
The postwar works of 1944–47 are a reaction to the physical and mental violence of the past. This part of the exhibition takes a fresh look at the great modern movements: some ensured the “reconstruction” under the aegis of the French Communist Party—Fougeron, Herbin, Pignon, etc.—and a renewal of sacred art, while other artists took a radical line in the form of tachism, informal art, art brut, lettrism and recycling of detritus from the war. All of this—the work of Atlan, Bissière, Debré, Fautrier, Giacometti, Hartung, Leduc, Masson, Richier, Riopelle, Soulages, Schneider and Tal-Coat, for example—pointed up the unrestrained psychic upsurge as the sole response to history.
The exhibition includes outstanding loans from leading national and international institutions and numerous private collections.
More than 100 artists will be on show including Antonin Artaud, Jean-Michel Atlan, Jean Arp, André Breton, André Bauchant, Willi Baumeister, Jean René Bazaine, Hans Bellmer, Jésus Guillen Bertolin, Roger Bissière, Pierre Bonnard, David Brainin, Georges Braque, Victor Brauner, Camille Bryen, Bernard Buffet, Alexander Calder, Marguerite Caudan, Marc Chagall, Gaston Chaissac, Jean Gabriel Chauvin, Giorgio De Chirico, Aloïse Corbaz, Olivier Debré, Frédéric Delanglade, Sonia et Robert Delaunay, Paul Delvaux, André Derain, César Domela, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Gaston Duf, Max Ernst, étienne-Martin, Jean Fautrier, Auguste Forestier, André Fougeron, Otto Freundlich, Alberto Giacometti, Edouard Goerg, Henri Goetz, Julio Gonzales, Jean Gorin, Jacques Gotko, Francis Gruber, Stella Gumichian, Etienne Hajdu, France Hamelin, Hans Hartung, Raoul Hausmann, Jean Hélion, Auguste Herbin, Hector Hyppolite, Srul Jarzembeski, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Sigismond Kolos-Vary, Wifredo Lam, André Lanskoy, Charles Lapicque, Henri Laurens, Fernand Leduc, Jean Le Moal, Fernand Léger, Jane Lévy, Myriam Lévy, Jacques Lipchitz, Kurt Löw, Alberto Magnelli, Man Ray, Frans Masereel, Alfred Manessier, André Masson, Henri Matisse, Roberto Matta, Henri Michaux, Joan Miro, Felix Nussbaum, Roger Payen, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Edouard Pignon, Guillaume Pujolle, Prieto, Anton Räderscheidt, Hans Reichel, Germaine Richier, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Horst Rosenthal, Georges Rouault, Le Douanier Rousseau, Charlotte Salomon, Gérard Schneider, Serpan, Joseph Soos, Pierre Soulages, Chaïm Soutine, Ferdinand Springer, Nicolas de Staël, François Stahly, Giordano Stroppolo, Boris Taslitzky, Joseph Steib, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Jotz Taitz, Pierre Tal-Coat, Tita, Julius Turner, Raoul Ubac, Vago, Bram Van Velde, Victor Vasarely, Vieira da Silva, Yves Tanguy, various unknowns, Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé, Maurice de Vlaminck, Gérard Vulliamy, Abram Warszawski, Arthus Weisz, Wols, and others.
*Image above: Pablo Picasso, Nature morte à la chouette et aux trois oursins, 6 novembre 1946. Peinture déorésineuse sur bois (hêtre) / Resinous painting on wood (beech). Musée Picasso, Antibes. © ImageArt, Antibes, Photo Claude Germain. © Succession Picasso 2012.