The Paris sun has gone into hibernation, making it a great time of year to spend all day inside contemplating or admiring artworks. Whether you're a fan of photography, immersive installations, or painting masters, here are our picks for the best art exhibitions to see while you're in Paris this November.
No more people-watching on the terrasse, wandering the streets under the sunshine, or lying in the grass in the park… It’s cold, it’s grey, it’s rainy… it’s November! But you know what? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Autumn is the perfect season to spend time in the majestic museums of Paris.
From the greatest painter of all time to a talented, young new artist, this month we’ve selected excellent exhibitions for all tastes.
This is THE event of the year – or maybe even of the decade?
The Louvre is commemorating the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death with an unprecedented retrospective. Taking the curatorial team ten years and a lot of political manoeuvres, the show includes ten of da Vinci’s paintings (out of the 14 – 18 attributed to the artist), as well as 80 drawings. The Vitruvian Man as well as the Saint Jerome – which never leave Italy – are both on show, as is the most expensive painting in the world, the Salvator Mundi, sold 450 millions dollars in 2017 to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
We hesitated to put that exhibition in the must-see for November, since tickets are already sold-out for the whole month… But if you’ll be in Paris in December, you should definitely book right now! Or let Urbansider take care of that for you with our concierge services!
On show through February 24, 2020.
Musée du Louvre, Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Metro Palais Royal Musée du Louvre
Mon – Sun: 09:00 – 18:00
Late nights on Wed & Fri: 09:00 – 21:45
Min Jung-Yeon is a young Korean artist living in France for more than 15 years. This is her first solo show in a major Parisian institution, and what a show!
She designed an immersive installation – a gigantic kaleidoscope in which the visitor can wander, lost in a dark forest reflected and distorted by mirrors placed among the artist’s paintings. The work is based on the artist’s memory of a traumatic attack she endured in her childhood, in the midst of the forest that had been her playground.
A beautiful, powerful, and delicate work on reconciliation, Min Jung-Yeon uses her memory to construct a discourse on dualities, contrasts, resilience, and reconstruction that goes far beyond her personal history and echoes the political situation of her country as well as Laozi philosophy.
In parallel to Min Jung-Yeon’s installation, The Musée Guimet is also exhibiting her father’s stone collection – a traditional scholar’s activity still perpetuated today.
On show from November 6, 2019 to February 17, 2020.
Musée Guimet, 6 Place d’Iéna, 75116 Paris
Wed – Mon: 10:00 – 18:00
If you’re a fan of contemporary art, be sure to check out our Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in Paris while you’re here!
El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 1541-1614) is a singular and fascinating figure in Art History. Born in Crete and trained in Venice and Rome, he then moved to Toledo, the religious capital of Spain. He developed a unique style, moving on the naturalism and hyeratism of the Renaissance painting’s figure to elongate faces and distort bodies, in order to find grace – the supreme quest of art according to him. His color choices were quite violent: crude red, pink, green or yellow, emerging from a camaïeux of earth tones to create an even more dramatic effect.
Although long disregarded, today, he’s considered as the last great painter of the Renaissance period and the first of the Spanish Golden Age. Once considered too “eccentric” and “only worthy of scorn” by many 17th- and 18th-century scholars, the Romantic movement revived interest in his oeuvre, seen as the perfect romantic hero – gifted but misunderstood.
It was finally the Modern Movement which restored him as a major figure of Art History. Picasso confessed he was dazzled by the modernity of El Greco, and he has since been a father figure for many expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon.
The Grand Palais is hosting the first monographic exhibition of this genius of painting, and it’s definitely a must-see!
On show through February 10, 2020.
Grand Palais, 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008 Paris
Metro Champs-Elysées Clemenceau
Mon, Thu, Sun: 10:00 – 20:00
Wed, Fri, Sat: 10:00 – 22:00
With this exhibition, the Jeu de Paume pays a beautiful homage to Peter Hujar, one of the great American masters of black and white photography. Unlike his contemporaries Diane Arbus or Robert Mappelthorpe, he fled fame and fortune, afraid of seeing his art polluted by success. Hujar wanted to remain anonymous, which explains why his works haven’t received the recognition they should have nowadays. But this show is willing to finally cast a light on this powerful oeuvre.
Peter Hujar’s art is rooted in downtown New York subculture. He wanted to take “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects.” He has taken portraits of major figures of the 70s and 80s intellectual scene like Susan Sontag and William Burroughs, but also of artists, musicians, and performers like transgender actress Candy Darling. He was also a documentarist of the gay life in New York, from the Stonewall uprising – the first LGBTQ demonstrations – in 1969 to the mid-80s AID crisis.
On show through January 19, 2020.
Jeu de Paume, 1 Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris
Tues: 12:00 – 21:00
Wed – Fri: 12:00 – 20:00
Sat – Sun: 11:00 – 20:00
The Centre Pompidou has invited Christian Boltanski, a major figure of the French contemporary art scene, to create an exhibition recounting his 60-year-long career.
For more than half a century now, Boltanski has been treating the subject of memory – both collective as well as individual. Through his paintings, letters, photographs, movies, and installations, we will be able to appreciate the poetry of his perspective on Occidental society. His works are overflowing with a melancholic nostalgia that has the power to plunge you into a mist of recollections, raising questions about the meaning of your life and the curse of history.
We are very curious to discover his oeuvre in its entirety and are bracing ourselves for an artistic choc!
On show from November 13, 2019 to March 16, 2020.
Centre Georges Pompidou, Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris
Metro Rambuteau or Hôtel de Ville
Mon, Wed, Fri – Sun: 11:00 – 21:00
Thurs: 11:00 – 23:00