After a long, imposed lockdown, the Paris arts scene is back and better than ever! With some grand openings and reopenings, a light-filled look at old favorites and exciting opportunities to discover new ones, we can head into summer with our eyes and hearts full. Just be sure to check the websites before you go as most museums – even free ones – are requiring reservations to respect current health measures.
The Paris museum landscape welcomes a major new player with the opening of the Pinault Collection at the Bourse de Commerce. Housed in Paris’ former commodities exchange building, the museum features 10 new exhibition spaces installed under its lovingly restored frescoes and signature glass cupola. Pulling from billionaire businessman François Pinault’s collection of more than 10 000 works of contemporary and modern art, the inaugural exhibits include a show dedicated to the “Picture Generation” featuring works from photographers Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler, Richard Prince and more. Also on display is a collection of Bernard Lavier’s playful assemblages, work from pioneering African-American conceptualist David Hammons and a selection of paintings devoted to the human figure, including three monumental works by Rudolf Stingel. Guided tours are available on weekends to fully appreciate the stunning redesign from the team of architects led by Tadao Ando.
Where: Pinault Collection-Bourse de Commerce, 2 rue de Viarmes, 75001 Paris
When: Inaugural exhibits through December 31, 2021
The recently remodeled Palais Galliera, the fashion museum of the city of Paris, has thankfully extended this unmissable retrospective of Gabrielle Chanel’s life and career. The exhibit recounts her early years, the development of her unique style, from the little black dress to the iconic perfumes and jewelry, and her return to design in the mid-1950s. Ten photo portraits accompany the 350 pieces on display, attesting to the fact Chanel herself was always the best ambassador of her brand.
Where: Palais Galliera, 10 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75016 Paris
Where: Through July 18, 2021
Legends and Legacies
Jointly organized by the Musée national Picasso-Paris and the Musée Rodin, this unique double exhibit explores the similarities between these two influential artists who were also masters of self-promotion. Featuring over 500 works, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, drawings, archival documents and photographs, the exhibit at the Musée Rodin focuses on modes of representation in the early 20th century, while the Musée Picasso shines a light on the similarities in the two artists’ creative processes.
Where: Musée national Picasso-Paris, 5 rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris & Musée Rodin, 77 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris
When: Through January 2, 2022
On the bicentennial of his death, this grand-scale exhibit explores the complex character of Napoléon Bonaparte from his ascension to his exile and everything in-between. Over 150 works are on display, including paintings, costumes, furniture and objets d’art owned by Napoléon himself, as well as contemporary creations which comment on his legacy. The famous “N” monogram has lost none of its luster nor its controversy.
When: Through December 19, 2021
Where: Grande Halle de la Villette, 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris
Women Make their Mark
As its title suggests, this remarkable exhibit traces a half-century of female artists from the pre-Revolutionary years to the Restoration. Through 70 works on display from public and private French and international collections, it explores how changes in tastes, social practices and artistic production opened the door for women painters to be accepted in the world of fine arts.
Where: Musée du Luxembourg, 19 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris
When: Through July 4, 2021
Featuring 106 artists and more than 500 works dating from the 1860s to the 1980s, this exhibit spotlights the contributions women artists have made to the abstract art movement, giving center stage to many who were unfairly written out of its history. Works by Louie Bourgeois and Barbara Hepworth are displayed alongside lesser-known names, providing an opportunity to discover some new favorites.
Where: Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou 75004 Paris
When: Through August 23, 2021
Paris on Display
This museum dedicated to the history of Paris reopens after a five-year renovation project with an exhibit celebrating one of the city’s most emblematic photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Politically engaged and artistically innovative, his subjects ranged from the liberation of Paris to working class vacationers to the crème de la crème of France’s literary set. While visiting the museum, be sure to check out the permanent collection including a stunning display of over two hundred 19th and 20th century street signs.
Where: Musée Carnavalet, 23 rue de Sévigné, 75003 Paris
When: Through October 31, 2021
While not strictly a stylistic movement, the term “School of Paris” is used to designate the effervescent art scene in France in the first part of the 20th century, prior to WWII. Many of the artists who flourished during this time were Jewish, having fled other parts of Europe in search of creative and religious freedom. The exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Art and History focuses on this generation of young artists, including Marc Chagall, Amadeo Modigliani, Jacques Lipchitz, Chana Orloff, and many other lesser-known names. A fascinating exploration of the intersection between the historical and the political, figurative and abstraction, tradition and modernity.
Where: Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, 71, rue du Temple, 75003 Paris
When: Through October 31, 2021
Colors of Summer
One of Paris’ most beautiful small museums presents the work of Paul Signac, retracing the life and work of this master of color and one of the fathers of neo-Impressionism. Alongside his luminous landscapes, over 20 works by contemporaries such as Georges Seurat, Camille Pissarro, and Maximilien Luce, will be on view. The perfect way to celebrate the end deconfinement and the start of the summer season.
Where: Musée Jacquemart-André, 158 boulevard Haussmann 75008 Paris
When: Through July 19, 2021
Nestled at the end of the Jardin des Tuileries, the Orangerie museum shines a light on an unusual chapter in Magritte’s career: the “solar” period, inspired by the work of Auguste Renoir and his budding optimism about the end of WWII. Bringing together close to 100 paintings and drawings, the exhibit features Magritte’s work alongside Renoir’s masterpieces, contemporary paintings by Picabia and other works, underscoring the lasting influence of these surprising and little-known gems.
Where: Musée de L’Orangerie, Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, 75001 Paris
When: Through July 19, 2021