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What’s on in Paris this August

23 July 2015

Delve into the Design Process During a Visit to the Capital’s Leading Museums & Galleries this Summer

Alongside its wealth of world-class permanent collections, Paris’ leading museums and galleries offer an array of enlightening exhibitions, each providing the chance to delve a little deeper into their subject matter. From the fascinating history of street art to the creation of impressionist statues, we invite you to look beyond the glossy finish or final masterpiece and discover the story behind some of the world’s most treasured artworks, contemporary design pieces and avant-garde movements this August.

Rodin: The Laboratory of Creation

Musée Rodin

Until 6th December 2015

Just south of the river, surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns and a circular water feature, a grand 18th century mansion is home to the Musée Rodin. Sculptor Auguste Rodin spent the last nine years of his life working here when it was known as the Hôtel Biron, putting finishing touches to The Gates of Hell; a 6 metre by 4 metre piece that depicts the first section of Dante’s Divine Comedy, ‘The Inferno’. Alongside its permanent collection that includes The Thinker, a life-size nude hunched on a rock, head in hand with a thoughtful expression, and The Kiss, a sculpture representing the passionate embrace of Paolo and Francesca da Rimini, the listed building is also exploring its original role in the artist’s life with an exhibition that focuses on the Parisian artist’s studio space and design process.

Boasting 150 works, some never seen by the public before, as well as studies, sketches and photos, this extensive display allows first-hand insight into the creative paths Rodin followed before reaching the end masterpiece. Mock-ups and models portray singular body parts and composition ideas, from the final study of Honoré Balzac’s head in modelling clay, with individual indents still intact, to a miniature terracotta Monument à Whistler standing at just over 12’’. A plaster head with areas yet to be defined is displayed alongside a headless, handless nude in bronze, both sharing the name Pierre de Wissant, while the artist can be seen surrounded by classical plinths and numerous preparatory works in a photo taken in 1902. Offering an exclusive look into his ‘laboratory of creation’ and the unique opportunity to observe the advancements in his skills and ideas, this is a must-see exhibition for any art lover.

Invention/ Design

Le Musée des Arts et Métiers

Until 6th March 2016

Exploring the design process beyond a single artist, Le Musée des Arts et Métiers uses 100 objects to examine the links between historic and modern inventions. Denis Papin’s 17th century pressure cooker is displayed alongside a more condensed, pot-like version from 1949 named the Cocotte Henri IV, which in turn sits side-by-side with the 2013 Tefal Nutricook, a smoother model, complete with its own built-in mobile app. Each product ultimately offers the same function, however generation after generation have attempted to improve on its efficiency and aesthetic. Aiming to uncover the role of the designer, the exhibition looks at their inspirations and constraints, how they go about improving existing products and innovating new ideas, delving into the process further using videos, interviews and archival documents.

An intriguing and diverse range of sources have led to that elusive creative spark, the light bulb moment that’s resulted in a desire to push things forward. Varying from the science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which influenced technological advancements into videophones, to the natural structure of lily leaves inspiring the architecture of London’s Crystal Palace, the process makes for insightful viewing. Organised by Sismo Design, the exhibition is designed to both inform and challenge perceptions, with co-founder, Antoine Fenoglio, keen to highlight that the modern designer looks beyond appearance and predicts that “tomorrow’s designer will be like yesterday’s inventor: at the same time an engineer and a practitioner…” Offering the opportunity to view an extensive treasure trove that follows centuries of creativity and innovation, this unique display will undoubtedly inspire.

Pressionism, the Masterpieces of Graffiti on Canvas from Basquiat to Bando

Pinacothèque de Paris

Until 13th September 2015 

As a medium, it takes at least five years to master and as a movement its attracted followers including French fashion designer Agnès B, who put together a show of works herself during 1989... however many have overlooked the art of spray painting, also known as Pressionism. Offering the chance to explore its vibrant history, the Pinacothèque de Paris has curated a 100 piece exhibition that includes sketches of composition ideas and designs, showcasing the creative process artists follow before putting their finger to the button. Though the first space is dedicated to tagging, charting its progression from basic signature to blocked calligraphy, the exhibition is keen to highlight the difference between the simple street versions of this practise, more than often seen as vandalism, and the figurative, expressive and collage works of the avant-garde movement.

Following a yearning to give work longeivity beyond the streets and subways of New York, a group of graffiti artists began to work on canvas during the 1970s. With the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring amongst them, contemporary collectors began to take notice and Philippe Lehman, a member of the Lehman banking family and a graffiti artist himself, introduced many American artists to buyers in Paris. Combining pieces from private collections, this unique exhibition offers the opportunity to view works from this era and beyond including T-KID 170’s The Soldier, a muted depiction of a gas masked soldier, and Lady Pink’s colourful self-portrait with turquoise green skin, red cap and purple gilet; ensuring an enlightening experience for any contemporary art lover. 

With such a wealth of works on display and some fascinating stories to tell, Paris is the perfect destination for any fan of the arts this summer.


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