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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Five B: Museum of Modern Art, City of Paris

The City of Paris has its own collection of Modern Art, and its own museum, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

The Museum of Modern art occupies one half of a handsome classical building called Palais de Tokyo, which was constructed in 1937 for an international exposition.

The other half is home to a contemporary art gallery that we didn't tour.

Palais de Tokyo
Art deco bas relief decoration
Monumental nudes flank the entrance path.

A large portion of the museum's galleries is given to temporary exhibitions, and the exhibits of its own collection appear to be changed frequently.

The collection tends to emphasize art made in Paris, though much of it was made by artists from other countries.

Some of the art was purchased by the museum, but much of it came from artists' heirs who couldn't pay the tax on their inheritance. The great strength of the museum is the capacity to display the work of certain artists in great depth.

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947

Pierre Bonnard, who began his art career in the 1890s and worked into the 1940s, generally painted intimate scenes of daily activities in his own home, often featuring his wife.

His obsession was color, and he was influenced by Gauguin's acidic contrasts and the wild colors of the Fauves.

His brushstrokes were loose, recalling the Impressionists, but his level of blurry vagueness is unique and gives his work a dreamlike quality.

These works come from his mature period.

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947
Nude in the Bath, 1936

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947
Lunch, 1932

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954

Henri Matisse was a dominant force in art all during the first half of the 20th century.

In America, his biggest collector was Albert Barnes, who founded the Barnes Museum in Merion, Pennsylvania, since re-located to Philadelphia.

When Matisse traveled to Merion to meet with Barnes in 1930, Barnes commissioned him to decorate the central hall in his new museum.

Matisse worked on the design in Paris for over a year before he discovered that his measurements were off by nearly a whole meter. He had to start all over again. The City of Paris Museum has the first canvas. The finished work was installed at the Barnes Museum, and it complements the building perfectly.

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954
The Dance, 1931-1933

Bart van der Leck, 1876-1958

Bart van der Leck was a Dutch painter who painted many crowd scenes. His stylized figures are anonymous, and they are crowded into a flat space to form a decorative design.

Bart van der Leck, 1876-1958
At the Market, 1913

Kees Van Dongen, 1877-1968

Kees Van Dongen was a Dutch artist who made his career in Paris. He was one of the original Fauvists around 1905. In the 1920s he became a popular portrait painter to upper class ladies.

Kees Van Dongen, 1877-1968
Maria Ricotti in “L’Enjôleuse”, 1921

Kees Van Dongen, 1877-1968
Portrait de Renée Maha, called Le Sphinx, 1920

Raoul Dufy, 1877-1953

Dufy's style is based on Fauvism's expressive manipulation of color.

He tended to reduce forms to mere outlines.

His great innovation was to separate form and color. In some of his paintings, outlines of forms are put down over arbitrary patches of color.

Raoul Dufy, 1877-1953
The Aperitif, 1908

Raoul Dufy, 1877-1953
Race course at Epsom, c. 1934

Raoul Dufy, 1877-1953
Maison et jardin, 1915

Raoul Dufy, 1877-1953
Trente ans ou La Vie en rose, 1931

André Derain, 1880-1954

Derain was a co-founder of Fauvism, with Henri Matisse, in 1904.

During the peak period of Cubism, he developed his own version of that style.

André Derain, 1880-1954
Nature morte à la table, 1910

Fernand Léger, 1881-1955

Fernand Léger was one of the original Cubists. His version emphasized the cylinder and the cone, and the sleek forms of the machine age.

Fernand Léger, 1881-1955
Contrast of forms, 1918

Fernand Léger, 1881-1955
The man with the pipe, 1920

Robert Delaunay, 1885-1941

Robert Delaunay got involved in Cubism around 1910. His version combined fragmented form with dynamic movement and vibrant color.

In this poster-like painting, he related the speed and energy of a game of football to the novelty of flight, the engineering marvel of the Eiffel tower, and the extravagance of a giant Ferris wheel, as symbols of modern life.

Robert Delaunay, 1885-1941
The Cardiff Team, 1913

In this example, luscious color dominates the design, and the objects tend to fade. This style was dubbed Orphism by the critics.

Robert Delaunay, 1885-1941
Symphony of Colors, 1917

Eventually Delaunay gave up subject matter and went completely abstract. This next painting is one of three murals that were commissioned to decorate the Salon des Tuileries.

Robert Delaunay, 1885-1941
Rhythm No. 3, decoration for the Salon des Tuileries, 1938

Robert Delaunay, 1885-1941
Rhythme No. 2, décoration pour le Salon des Tuileries, 1938

Marc Chagall, 1887-1985

Chagall's expressionist paintings depict dreams, memories, and feelings.

Marc Chagall, 1887-1985
The Dream, 1927

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978

Giorgio de Chirico was an Italian painter who lived in Paris off and on throughout his career, alternating with Rome. In recognition of the artist's bond with his adopted city, in 2011 the de Chirico Foundation bequeathed 61 works from the last half of his career to the City of Paris, which had already acquired several of his paintings. It enhances your understanding of an artist to see a great number of his or her works at once.

De Chirico is most famous for what he called 'metaphysical' paintings. In these he aimed to express an idea, or perhaps a spiritual state, by depicting several symbolic objects in a symbolic space. His symbolism was private, so each viewer is free to spin his or her own story around the image. The style is hard-edge and flat. The mood tends to be isolation, loneliness, and disorientation.

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Hermetic Melancholy, 1919 (artist age 31)

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
White horse,
c. 1930

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Still life with apples and grapes, c. 1930

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Nature morte dans un paysage champêtre,
c. 1943

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Horse and zebra, 1948

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Metaphysical interior with landscape, house and fountain,

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Head of a white horse, 1958

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
The return of Hebdomeros, 1969

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Metaphysical composition with head of Jupiter,

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Antique Idyll, c. 1970

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
The Return of Ulysses, 1973

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Still life in a country landscape, c. 1943

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Isa and Giorgio, undated

Giorgio de Chirico, 1888-1978
Return to the castle, undated

Jean Dubuffet, 1901-1985 

Dubuffet was always trying to shake things up. In a career that lasted from the mid-1940s to the mid-1980s, he sought to embrace lowly values—primitivism, ugliness, and insanity. For awhile he was interested in using lowly materials such as dirt to create an image. In this 'painting' the image is actually made of bark. You've probably noticed how attractive tree bark can be.

Jean Dubuffet, 1901-1985
Woody path, 1949

Take-aways from the City of Paris Museum

Artists we have met before:
  • Matisse
  • André Derain
  • Léger
  • Robert Delaunay
  • Chagall
  • Dubuffet
New French Artists:
  • Bonnard's work derived from Post-Impressionism, with acidic colors and blurry brushwork.
  • Raoul Dufy's style derived from Fauvism, with strong emphasis on color.
  • Dubuffet was a maverick who sometimes used natural materials in his work.

New Dutch Artists:
  • Bart van der Leck had a theme of stylized crowd scenes.
  • Kees Van Dongen was portrait artist to the fashionable set.

New Italian Artist:
  • De Chirico depicted metaphysical ideas.

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