Paris Arts & Culture: 14 Top Picks for Fall-Winter 2017-2018

Paris Arts & Culture: 14 Top Picks for Fall-Winter 2017-2018

Paris art & culture
La Danse, André Derain, 1906, Private collection, © Adagp, Paris 2017

Attention! Art aficionados, culture buffs and enthusiastic tourists, the Fall-Winter 2017 cultural scene in Paris is packed with must-see exhibits. From rare retrospectives to visiting collections to new ways of looking at old friends, it’s a feast for the eyes and the imagination.

Grand Retrospectives

Irving Penn 

The impressive glass-and-steel structure of the Grand Palais is the temporary home to not one but two major retrospectives this season. Irving Penn celebrates the centenary of the birth of one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century with a look back at his 70-year career. Best known for his fashion photography and portraits of celebrities, this is a chance to discover the extraordinary breadth of his work, including striking still lifes and tableaux of indigenous peoples. A modern master gets his well-deserved due.

When: Through January 29, 2018
Where: Grand Palais, 3 avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008 Paris

Gauguin the Alchemist 

In contrast to Penn’s pared-down aesthetic, Paul Gauguin is best known for his colorful, dreamlike paintings of Polynesian women. But in fact, he worked in a variety of mediums: painting, drawing, engraving, sculpture and ceramics. Tracing the major events in Gauguin’s life, Gauguin the Alchemist puts the spotlight on Gauguin’s experimentation with different materials, his use of thematic repetition and the way he incorporated symbolism into his work, all of which would inspire many artists after him.

When: October 11, 2017 – January 28, 2018
Where: Grand Palais, 3 avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008 Paris

American Moderns

Being Modern: MoMa in Paris 

New York City comes to Paris as two major exhibits spotlight the collections of two major American art institutions. First, the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton houses a selection of works from the venerable Museum of Modern Art, better known as MoMa. Featuring over 200 highly significant works – some famous, some less so – the exhibit highlights the important role that MoMA, its curators and its exhibition program have played in the history of art in the 20th and 21st centuries. Included are masterpieces by Paul Cézanne, Gustav Klimt, Paul Signac, Edward Hopper, Max Alexander Calder, Yvonne Rainer, Frank Stella, and many, many more.

When: October 11 – March 5, 2017
Where: Fondation Louis Vuitton, 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris

Pop Art – Icons that matter, Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Meanwhile, the Musée Maillol welcomes works from the renowned Whitney Museum, featuring over 60 powerful pieces of Pop Art, many of which have never been seen in Paris before. Considered a uniquely American art form, Pop Art began in the 1960s in reaction to abstract expressionism. Incorporating everyday objects and other elements of pop culture, such as comic strips, films and advertisements in their work, artists such as Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein and Rosalyn Drexler used intense colors, contemporary references and a good dose of irony to depict the “American way of life.”

When: Through January 21, 2018
Where: Musée Maillol 61 rue de Grenelle 75007 Paris

Illuminating History

Oriental Christians: 2,000 Years of History 

When most people think of Middle Eastern culture, they think of Muslims and Jews. But Christians have also played a major role in the political, cultural, social, and religious development of the region for centuries. The exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabfocuses on the unique role of Christianity through several pivotal periods, underscoring the incredible diversity of its churches and orthodoxies. Several little-seen masterpieces will be on display, including the Rabbula Gospels, a famous illuminated Syriac manuscript dating from the sixth century, and the earliest known church frescoes—from the third century—from Dura-Europos in Syria.

When: Through January 14, 2018
Where: Institut du Monde Arabe, 1 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris

Peru before the Incas

The mighty Inca Empire has captured the imagination of the world for centuries. But what of the cultures that existed before the Incas? These ancient societies included the Mochicas (or Moche) who laid the foundations for pre-Hispanic civilization over 1,500 years ago. Drawing on recent archaeological developments in the region, the exhibit at Quai Branly offers an insight into the origins and organization of these ancient societies. Who held the power – the celestial gods, the kings, the urban elite, the warriors, the priests and priestesses? Through nearly 300 pieces, the exhibit will lead you through a fascinating archaeological investigation.

When: November 14, 2017 – April 1, 2018
Where: Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, 37 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris

The Wonder Years

Picasso 1932 

Dedicated to one single year, Picasso 1932, l’année érotique focuses on a pivotal time in the great artist’s life and career. Referred to as “the year of wonder,” not only did his paintings reach a new level of sensuality but he cemented his celebrity status as the most influential artist of the early 20th century. Some of Picasso’s best-known works, from his color-saturated portraits to his surrealist drawings, were created during those 12 months, while he attempted to divide his time between family and his mistress/model Marie-Thérèse Walter. More than 100 paintings, sculptures and works on paper reveal the complexity and richness of Picasso’s life and work.

When: October 10, 2017 – February 11, 2018
Where: Musée national Picasso-Paris, 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris

André Derain 1904 – 1914, the Radical Decade

The first major solo show of Derain’s work in over 20 years, The Radical Decadefocuses on his pre-WWI career when he played a crucial role in the development of two avant-garde movements: Fauvism and Cubism. The exhibit includes some of his best-known paintings (Mediterranean landscapes, large-scale dance and bather compositions), as well as his lesser-known photographs, and the African and Maori sculptures and ceramics that inspired him.

When: Through January 29, 2018
Where: Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris

Shades of the 19th century

The Art of pastel from Degas to Redon

The Petit Palais is one of the most charming museums in Paris, with an excellent collection of 19th century art, including over 200 pastels. A selection of them is on rare view in this exhibit, highlighting the pastel technique. At the crossroads between painting and drawing, pastels allowed artists to work quickly in a variety of styles, from Impressionism to Symbolism to society portraits. The exhibit showcases works from Berthe Morisot, Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt, and Edgar Degas, and a particularly remarkable collection of works by Odilon Redon. Extremely fragile, these works will be on display for only a limited time before returning to the archives, so don’t miss this chance.

When: Through April 8, 2018
Where: Petit Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill 75008 Paris

Degas, Danse, Dessin. A Tribute to Degas with Paul Valéry

If Degas’ pastels have given you a hankering for more, an exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay should satisfy your craving. Focusing on the relationship between the artist and Paul Valéry, poet and intellectual, Degas Danse Dessin juxtaposes Degas’ art and Valéry’s writing, revealing new ways of looking at both their work. A series of concerts and ballet films have been programmed around the exhibit, echoing themes in Degas’ work that continue to resonate with wide audiences.

When: November 28, 2017 – February 25, 2018
Where: Musée d’Orsay, 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris

A Passion for Collecting

Monet, The Collector

Claude Monet is one of the most celebrated impressionists of all time. But did you also know he was an avid collector? For the first time ever, an exhibit at the Marmottan Monet Museum pulls back the curtain on Monet’s private collection of prints, paintings and sculptures. Although much of the work was dispersed at his death, the Marmottan has managed to bring the prestigious gang back together: Delacroix, Corot, Manet, Renoir, Caillebotte, Cézanne, Morisot, Pissarro, Rodin, Signac are on view, as well as an impressive array of Japanese prints, giving insight to Monet’s personal influences and taste.

When: Through January 14, 2018
Where: Musée Marmottan Manet, 2 rue Louis Boilly 75016 Paris

The Hansen’s Secret Garden, The Ordrupgaard collection 

The beautiful Jacquemart-André Museum was created around the collection of two art lovers, so it’s the ideal place to show off the works assembled by another pair of connoisseurs, Danish couple Wilhelm and Henny Hansen. Put together between 1916 and 1918, the extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries includes over 40 works that have never been seen before in Paris. Corot, Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir, and Gauguin are just some of the artists that graced the walls of the art gallery in their private mansion (which was nonetheless open to the public) and are now on display in this remarkable setting.

When: Through January 22, 2018
Where: Le Musée Jacquemart-André, 158 boulevard Haussmann 75008 Paris

Image and Imagination

Valerian and Laureline

Best known internationally as the main characters of the latest Luc Besson film, Valerian and Laureline started life over 50 years ago in the comic series by French writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. Hugely influential at the time, the comics followed the journey of two spatiotemporal agents from Galaxity, the capital of Earth in the 28th century as they travel throughout time and the Universe. Using their story as a starting point, this immersive exhibit explores questions about the cosmos, material, spacetime, time travel, the present, and extraterrestrial life. Get ready to blast off for an exciting and educational adventure.

When: Through January 14, 2018
Where: Cité des sciences et de l’industrie, 30, avenue Corentin-Cariou, 75019 Paris


From “Delicatessen” to “the City of Lost Children” to “Amélie,” the imaginative visual style of filmmakers Marc Caro and Jean Pierre-Jeunet is unmistakable. A new exhibit at the Halle Saint Pierre plunges you into the world of the artists with an eclectic mix of costumes, scenery, story-boards and props that make their movies so fantastical and fantastic. Caro and Jeunet were intimately involved in the planning of the exhibit, creating a “Cabinet of Curiosities” approach that perfectly reflects their singular cinematic vision.

When: Through July 31, 2018
Where: La Halle St Pierre, 2 rue Ronsard 75018 Paris


  1. Love the diverse selection of both big and smaller expos. Have seen some of these excellent choices and your descriptions seem spot on to me. Now I have more to go and seethat I probably wouldn’t have spotted before. Thank you!


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