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Art to See in Paris This Fall

Art to See in Paris This Fall

Besides FIAC and its satellite events, Paris has a rich array of visual treats on offer this fall — notwithstanding the pandemic and its related rules and restrictions. Here is a selection.

FONDATION VUITTON Five years ago, the Fondation Vuitton (the vessel-shaped private museum designed by Frank Gehry) drew 1.3 million visitors to its exhibition of the Shchukin Collection: masterpieces by Monet, Gauguin, Matisse and Picasso, among others, that were purchased on Paris shopping sprees by the Russian textile tycoon Sergei Shchukin. These spectacular works bedecked his Moscow palace all the way up to the Russian Revolution, when they were nationalized and scattered, and eventually wound up in Russia’s top museums.

This year, the Fondation Vuitton strikes again with an exhibition of the Morozov Collection, about 200 French and Russian works bought by two other textile magnates, the brothers Mikhail and Ivan Morozov, who also made multiple Paris shopping trips. Like the Shchukin family, the Morozovs came from abject poverty: Their forebears were serfs who, during Napoleon’s occupation of Russia, made ribbons at home, which they peddled at Moscow markets.

Both shows were curated by Anne Baldassari, the former director of the Picasso Museum in Paris. Besides masterpieces by Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne, Gauguin and Matisse (among others), visitors will experience the reconstituted music room of Ivan Morozov, adorned with seven panels by the French painter Maurice Denis.

GRANDE HALLE DE LA VILLETTE Speaking of Napoleon, this is the last chance to see the extravaganza dedicated to him at the Grande Halle de la Villette. Visiting the show is like watching a big-screen movie of Napoleon’s life, only with props and set pieces that are all completely original. You’ll see Napoleon’s jewel-encrusted sword, his tricolor sash, several of his beds, his monogrammed throne and the primitive wooden stagecoach that carried his body to its resting place on the island of St. Helena. The exhibition, which marks the bicentenary of his death, ends Dec. 19.

POMPIDOU CENTER If contemporary art is more your thing, head to the Pompidou Center for what is billed as the most important retrospective of the painter Georg Baselitz, who has dedicated much of his career to illustrating the challenges of growing up in Germany in the immediate postwar period.

Baselitz, who is 83, is simultaneously receiving what could possibly be considered an even bigger French accolade: This month, he will enter the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris as a foreign associate member. Baselitz will fill a seat inside the Académie that was previously occupied by two prominent European filmmakers: Andrzej Wajda of Poland and Federico Fellini of Italy.

MUSÉE D’ORSAY Across the river from the Pompidou, another top-selling contemporary painter, the South African-born Marlene Dumas, is on show with a tribute to France’s most famous 19th-century poet, Charles Baudelaire. Ms. Dumas has produced 14 paintings inspired by Baudelaire’s “Spleen de Paris,” his collection of 50 prose poems. In a parallel display, the Musée d’Orsay is hanging three key works by Ms. Dumas next to artworks from the Orsay collection.

GALERIE LELONG & COMPANY Fans of contemporary African art can head over to the Galerie Lelong & Company for a solo show of Barthélémy Toguo, a Cameroonian painter and performing artist. Mr. Toguo trained in Ivory Coast and picked up classical art techniques before moving to Europe and discovering newer disciplines such as video and performance art. He is famous for a series of performances called “Transit” that were staged in airports, train stations and other transport hubs. In one performance, he showed up for a flight at the main Paris airport, Charles de Gaulle, wearing a cartridge belt filled with pieces of candy. In another, he took a seat in a train compartment dressed as a street sweeper, causing unease among travelers and leading the ticket inspector to intervene.

Mr. Toguo’s exhibition at Lelong is a commemoration of the poet and writer Edmond Jabès, who was of Egyptian origin. The artist draws parallels between the writer and the Bamileke people of western Cameroon through a series of blue paintings that are evocations of genocide, displacement and exile. The exhibition features an interactive installation: Members of the public can either make a donation or send a paper or electronic message to the artist.


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