International artists and Art History are on the agenda this September, with shows featuring French romanticism, American photography, the Golden Age of British painting, and an Irish artist whose works reflect seemingly every artistic courant of the 20th century.
September is the beginning of the art season in Paris, with institutions slowly coming back from holidays and opening exciting new shows while some of the best summer shows are still on view!
Here is our monthly guide to the current can’t-miss art exhibitions in Paris.
The Petit Palais offers a sweeping panorama of Paris from 1815 to 1848, a very unstable period during which France was governed by two emperors, three kings and saw two different revolutions arise. It was also a time of cultural effervescence in Paris, which was populated by some of the greatest artists of all time like Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Flaubert, Hector Berlioz, Frédéric Chopin, and many more.
It’s quite an impressive show: the Petit Palais has gathered more than 600 pieces – paintings, clothes, books, furniture, etc., in an attempt to depict life in these troubled times, in a city so crowded and schizophrenic that Balzac coined it “the monster”.
Room after room, you discover Paris’s most emblematic neighborhoods. You’ll pass through the infamous Palais-Royal and its prostitutes, explore the new artistic quarter la Nouvelle Athènes, and even see Notre-Dame before it was transformed by the rise of Gothic Revival.
This exhibition is the occasion to rediscover some masterpieces by the Romantic painters Delacroix and Gericault, but also to learn about the splendors and miseries of life in Paris at the time from hundreds of documents, sculptures and paintings.
On show through September 15.
Petit Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris
Metro Champs Elysées – Clemenceau
Tues – Sun: 10:00 – 18:00
Fri: 10:00 – 21:00
Wright Morris is a storyteller. Best known for his novels depicting life in the Midwest, he also experimented with other ways to portray this fascinating part of the world, including photography and also the combination of fictional texts and images.
Morris didn’t consider himself a social commentator but rather a portraitist. Although his images are devoid of figures, he captured the identity of the Great Plains inhabitants through their objects, their interiors, their cars, the architecture of their homes, and the landscapes in which they grew up, worked, lived, and died.
A beautiful portrayal of rural America in the 40’s and 50’s and a poetic escape for the imagination.
On show through September 29
Fondation Henri-Cartier-Bresson, 79 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris
Metro Filles du Calvaire, Arts et Métiers, or Rambuteau
Tues – Sun: 11:00 – 19:00
And don’t forget to take a look at our August guide to see more exhibitions still on view.
This is the most expected show of the month. The Centre Pompidou is welcoming a major exhibition of Francis Bacon, one of the key figures of 20th-century Art History.
The tormented Irish painter – a sickly child, abused by his father, who left home at age 16 to freely live his homosexuality and find his voice as an artist in London – devoted his life to depicting the intensity of the human experience.
Francis Bacon’s work is a point of reference in Art History. He reinterpreted many of the Spanish Old Masters’ paintings (including Goya, Zurbaran, Greco, and above all, Velasquez), talked about the influence of Van Gogh and Gaugin’s colors on his work, described his encounter with Surrealism as a major shock in his early career, got inspired by the Minimalist movement to create even more striking compositions, and loved both photography and film.
The Centre Pompidou’s curator has chosen to explore a lesser known aspect of his work: his passion for literature. From the father of tragedy Aeschylus to the American poet T.S. Eliot, the exhibition includes readings of Nietzsche, Bataille, Conrad, and more. We can’t wait to discover how these authors inspired Bacon’s work.
Opening on September 11, 2019. On show through January 20, 2020.
Centre Georges Pompidou, Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris
Metro Rambuteau or Hôtel de Ville
Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun: 11:00 – 21:00
Thursday: 11:00 – 23:00
Closed on Tuesdays
Although George III’s reign (1760 – 1820) is considered the Golden Age of British painting, the works of this period are relatively unknown in France, likely because the Académie Française wasn’t particularly fond of the themes explored in their artworks.
During this time, art became a public affair in Great Britain. The will to define a distinctively British identity led painters to treat themes and use techniques different than those in fashion in Europe. The exhibition retraces this evolution, focusing on how landscape painting – a genre usually disregarded in Europe – became extremely popular across The Channel. It also examines how and why British painters developed a more intimate style for official portraits, leading to the conversation pieces depicting families staged in an informal fashion.
In addition to showing masterpieces by the two great rivals of the times, Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, the exhibition also includes many works from lesser-known painters and the more tormented artists of the end of this era, like Fuseli and Turner.
Opening on September 11, 2019. On show through February 16, 2020.
Musée du Luxembourg, 19 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris
Metro Mabillon, Saint-Sulpice, or RER B Luxembourg
Open everyday: 10:00 – 18:00
Late night on Mondays until 22:00
And finally, if you’re eager to discover a couple of young artists, Salomé Chatriot and Samuel Fasse are presenting the latest work of their long-term collective project, H.S// Am I Still Human? at the AMAC Projects Gallery from September 19-23. Exploring the subject of the human mind and body in the future, the project centers on the intersection of the natural and the artificial.
Vernissage September 19, 18:00 – 22:00
On view September 19-23, 2019
AMAC Projects Gallery, 10 Rue Fontaines du Temple, 75003, Paris
Metro Arts et Métiers or Temple
Tues – Sat 11:00 – 19:00
This weekend is a particularly good time to be in Paris. Saturday and Sunday, September 21 - 22, 2019, mark the 36th edition of the Journées du patrimoine, also called the European Heritage Days.
If you’ll be in Paris this Friday, September 13th, large strikes will be affecting most public transportation. Transport unions have called for a grève in protest against pension reforms and the RATP (the Parisian transport operator) foresees 'heavily disrupted' traffic conditions.