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Paris Exhibitions Not to Miss this Month: June 2019

  • Portrait of Shelby Hunter © Kehinde Wiley and galerie Templon


Museum and galleries in Paris have something to offer to everyone! Whether you want to live an immersive aesthetic experience or you’re interested in politically engaged art, we’ve got your back with this month’s selection of exhibitions!

The Parisian art scene is known to be pretty conservative, but something’s changing lately… Indeed, we’re seeing more and more attempts to consider art history with fresh eyes and to give a voice to marginalized populations – all of which is pretty exciting if you ask me!

Some of our picks this month fall into this category of intellectually challenging exhibitions, but if your goal is to forget about the harshness of the world for a moment and experience pure beauty, we’ve got something for you as well.

Black Models: From Géricault to Matisse

An historic event in many ways. For the past 30 years, postcolonial studies have been reshaping art history, but this marks the first time that a prominent French institution like the Musée d’Orsay has created an exhibition focusing on the theme.

“Le modèle noir” examines the representation of black figures in art. Covering a period from the abolition of slavery in France in 1794 to the Harlem Renaissance movement in the 1920s and up to today, the exhibition explores the impact that racist and colonialist societies have on artistic production.

While we’d like to think that artists are generally forward thinkers and social activists, this exhibition shows us that their works largely conformed to the zeitgeist, reflecting the “spirit of the times.”

Most paintings feature anonymous figures of a somewhat vague ethnic group, the works’ titles often employing antiquated, derogatory terms for people of color. The curators of the exhibition have worked to correct this injustice, and have done an incredible job uncovering the names and life stories of the models.

Detail from Portrait of a Black Woman by Marie-Guillemine Benoist

They also managed to show the public how black figures were used to represent the “other” – societies seen to be radically different from Occidental civilization. Depending on the period, we can feel whether artists were appalled by, fascinated with, or sympathetic toward this “other,” although very few saw beyond their prejudices to paint their subjects as individuals rather than the fantasy society constructed.

The exhibition is both beautiful and enlightening, definitely a must see!

On view until July 21, 2019.

Musée d’Orsay, 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris
Metro Solférino or RER Musée d’Orsay
Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun: 9:30 – 18:00
Thurs: 9:30 – 21:45
Closed Mondays
Tickets: 14€

Kehinde Wiley, Tahiti

This show could be seen as a contemporary answer to the topics addressed in “Le modèle noir!” Artist Kehinde Wiley first became famous for his paintings of young African-American men and women from the streets of New York, using Western symbols of power and domination to depict his models as heroic figures. Then, in 2016, he was chosen by Barack Obama to paint his official Presidential portrait.

The exhibition “Tahiti” presents the portrait artist’s latest works. After painting the American President, Wiley returned to his primary personal and artistic commitment to the invisible figures of society. This time, the painter choose to focus on Tahiti’s Māhū community, the traditional Polynesian classification of people of a third gender, between male and female.

On view until July 20, 2019.

Galerie Templon, 28 Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare, 75003 Paris
Metro Rambuteau
Tues – Sat: 10:00 – 19:00
Closed Sundays and Mondays
Free entry

Portrait of Shelby Hunter by Kehinde Wiley © Kehinde Wiley and galerie Templon

Starry Night

A center for digital art, the Atelier des Lumières offers a new way to experience art. Located in a refurbished foundry in the very hip 11th Arrondissement, it holds immersive exhibitions, based on the projection of famous works of art all over the space. No voiceover nor explanations leaflet here, the idea is to let go and fully live this aesthetic experience, guided by the music and the animated images.

This season you’ll be able to dive into Van Gogh’s most famous masterpieces and also enjoy a fantastic show on Japanese art. Both shows mesmerize children and adults alike, and Instagrammers absolutely love it!

Make sure to buy your tickets online though, as the show’s often sold out!

Atelier des Lumières, 38 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011 Paris
Metro Rue Saint-Maur, Père Lachaise, Saint-Ambroise
Mon – Thurs: 10:00 – 18:00
Fri, Sa: 10:00 – 20:00
Sun: 10:00 – 19:00
Tickets: 14.50€

‘Nuit Étoilée’ at the Atelier des Lumières © Culturespaces and E. Spiller

Festival Circulation(s)

The 104 (or cent-quatre if you’d like to write it out) is an atypical art center located in the north of Paris. Its gigantic industrial halls offer free artistic practice spaces, nice coffee shops and restaurants, artistic residencies, and an excellent program of exhibitions.

Every year the 104 welcomes Circulation(s), a renowned European photography festival. This edition is particularly good, with a small selection of carefully curated photo series.

We couldn’t help but notice the number of female artists using their work to fight for fellow women. We were amazed by the sensibility of Ulla Deventer’s exploration of prostitution, the cleverness of Camille Gharbi’s representation of spousal homicide, and the narrative power of Sina Niemeyer’s series on her experience with child abuse.

Don’t worry though, the exhibition also features plenty of lighter subject matter! You’ll also be able to enjoy some purely aesthetic photographs, including Chloe Rosser’s Form and Function series.

On view until June 30, 2019.

CENTQUATRE-Paris, 5 Rue Curial, 75019 Paris
Metro Riquet
Wed – Sun: 14:00 – 19:00
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Tickets: 6€

Form And Function By Chloe Rosser © Chloe Rosser

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