Monday, July 15, 2013


On a lovely, bright saturday I headed over to the Pinacotheque for two exhibitions on two of my favorite art styles: art nouveau and art deco.  Before I hit the exhibit, I got sidetracked in the beautiful Jardin de Tuileries.  In the belle park, I set up under a banyan with an upright chair and reclining chair to make a perfect deck chair for people watching.

After some lovely park time for some reading and writing, I made my way to Avenue la Madeleine to the museum.  I admit, I got a student ticket.  But I feel a sabbatical is an educational endeavor, hence I am a student.  Besides I was doing reconnaissance, and would probably return to the museum another time.

I began with the : La Révolution Décorative exhibition, and it was beautiful and phenomenal.  The exhibit traced the history and genesis of this decorative art through drawings, artifacts and explanations.

The thing most amazing to me was the role of Japanese cultural on this art form. The opening of Japan helped influence European art via the woodblock print and decorative print.  It changed the focus and perspective, first of those who created impressionism to those who created Art Nouveau.

The exhibit also explained how Art Nouveau helped spur cultural eroticism and spark the beginnings of a sexual awakening.  Art Nouveau lead to an exploration of eroticism and female sensuality through art that was profound.  See under: Arthur Foache, Le Garonner

Art Nouveau also had a serious aspect of public and cultural diplomacy.  Art Nouveau was shared with an intrigued world at the Paris Exposition of 1900; the role of the exposition as a medium for sharing new ideas and new styles was profound.  The Paris Expo because a point to communicate this new style and send it back to other locations.  And Art Noveau became such a potent medium for expressing national culture, heritage and fables.  Like the work of Alfons Mucha in illustrating the Czech and Slavonic epics

Another fascinating bit of the exhibit was an exploration of mysticisme et monde moderne.  There was a picture I loved of Brunhild by Gaston Bussiere.

And of course, there was a part on Sarah Bernhardt, Le grande belle de L'Art Nouveau:

Un être exceptional au cœur d'un epoque exceptionelle.

In her beauty and talents, she towered beautifully over an exceptional age of beauty.

Sadly, the period of art nouveau began to die with the grim realities of the Great War.  The lightness and beauty had little place in a world gone dark (not an exactness, it still lived on in Mucha's work- especially as mentioned related to the new Czechoslovakia but the overall the movement had lost its encompassing focus)

I left the excellent exhibit for the second part, on Tamara de Lempicka- the Queen of Art Deco.

Born out of the ashes of the Great War, and into the decorative Roaring Twenties, Art Deco augmented the focus of the artistic world:

While Art Nouveau was drying up and saw its shapes evolving towards an abandonment of the arabesque, to return towards a form of geometric aspect and transforming itself little by little into what is known as Art Deco, the representation of the female figure was also to undergo a major evolution.
From sensuality and eroticism, we were to head towards a much more advanced, transgressive sexuality. The image of the “tomboy” as a defining characteristic of Art Deco was to provide Tamara de Lempicka with an overweening position in that movement, going so far as to make of her its icon.

I was not familiar with Lempicka's work, and it was quite fascinating to see the influences that contributed to Art Deco in her work.  It was also a fascinating retrospective on Lempicka ( ni ange ni bête; bulleya)

Perhaps my favorite piece was L'charpe bleue:

Sadly, as The Great War hastened the decline of Art Nouveau, so too did the Second Great War help hasten the decline of Art Deco.

Yet, I think I will always be somewhere lost in art nouveau wishes and art deco dreams.

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