Art & Design Magazine

Top 10 Art Exhibitions in Paris

By Alejandra @ArgosDe

Here’s a rundown of what I think are the most interesting and relevant exhibitions currently showing in Paris. This is the last in a series of articles about the best exhibitions in various cities, including Madrid, New York and London. Don’t forget to bookmark this page for future reference, as I plan to update it in due course.

Last updated: May 2014


Grand Palais


Exposiciones en París - Robert Mappletorpe


Robert Mapplethorpe. Until July 13, 2014. 


For this exhibition the Gran Palais has brought together over 250 works by American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Visitors will be able to see the evolution of his work throughout his career, as well as understand what was going through the artist’s mind when he was releasing the shutter of his Polaroid or Hasselblad. He was obsessed with beauty and the idea of creating a world without boundaries; his study of how the forces of nature affect the human form has left us arresting images of faces, hands, naked bodies… and a sublime series on flowers, adding a touch of finesse to the collection. Read more.





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Exposiciones en París - Bill Viola


Bill Viola. Until July 21, 2014.


Viola’s works have always centered around the general concept of Life — natural phenomena such as fire, wind, water and death are some of the specific themes that come up time and again. His search for a natural order in the world, by means of  simple, subtle harmony, is evident to those viewers who invest time in his work, which invites us to escape our day-to-day lives and appreciate the natural principles that sustain existence, the way the Ancient Greeks understood it. Life seen as continuous movement and change (“Life is like a flowing river”). Through his work, Viola wants us to stop and think about who we are, our surroundings, where we’re heading and whether or not we’re actually perceiving the world around us. Read more.



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Centre Pompidou 


Exposiciones en París - Enri-Cartier-Bresson


Henri Cartier-Bresson. Until June 9, 2014.


The Cartier-Bresson exhibition at the Pompidou presents the influential photographer’s work chronologically and structures his work into distinct phases, each emphasizing a particular style; while his beginnings have more to do with the Surrealist movement, his later work focuses on socio-political issues. Evidence of this thematic shift are his photographs of the Spanish Civil War, World War II, decolonization and the Cold War. His commitment to the cause did not manifest purely through his photography — he was also outspoken in his condemnation of those in power as well as supportive of those in less favourable positions. Read more.





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Exposiciones en París - Martyal Raysse retrospectiva


Martial Raysse. Until September 9, 2014.


This significant retrospective of influential contemporary French artist Martial Raysse has recently opened at the Pompidou. His career began in literature before moving on to painting, a somewhat more universal language. He is best known for his close ties with the French avant-guarde of the 50s and his brilliant pop art phase.





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Musée de Luxembourg


Exposiciones en París - Joséphine


Joséphine. Until June 29, 2014.


This exhibition allows visitors to see the different stages of Joséphin’s life, from her time in Martinique, her marriage to Napoléon Bonaparte and coronation as empress in 1804, to her life after her divorce. The music, culture, travels, fashion, gardens and art collecting present in her life are all witness to her progressive lifestyle and her great influence on the modus operandi of French society in the first half of the 19th century. Read more.





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La Maison de la Photographie Européenne


Exposiciones en París - Martín Parr


Martin Parr. Until May 25, 2014. 


This is an unmissable opportunity to see 62-year-old British photographer Martin Parr’s current work. Parr’s focus has been on mass tourism, a theme he studies critically but not without humour. In this exhibition, La Maison de la Photographie Européenne has given the artist carte blanche to offer his own personal vision of the city of Paris, with its people, its many streets filled with tourists, its museums, restaurants, fairs, its fashion and anything that might have caught his eye as photographer and foreigner. Read more.





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The house-workshop of the Martel Brothers


Exposiciones en París - Hermanos Martell


The Parisian Robert Mallet Stevens (1886-1945), who together with Le Corbusier was one of the most influential architects of the French modern movement, was the designer of this architectural marvel, built in 1927. In 1929 he founded the Union des Artistes Modernes to unite the Parisian avant-garde artists of the first half of the 20th century — Jean Prouvé, Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand… Read more.



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Musée d'Art Moderne 


Exposiciones en París - Fontana


Lucio Fontana. Until August 24, 2014.


The Museum of Modern Art is currently presenting one of the largest retrospectives of Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), one of the 20th century’s great visionaries. The artist’s concept of space is explored across over 200 works, including sculptures, paintings, installations and ceramic — a large and diverse body of work which also represents his shifts between the abstract and the figurative.




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 Galerie Perrotin


Exposiciones en París - Chen Zhen



Chen Zhen. Fragments d'éternité. Until June 7, 2014.


This retrospective consists of 30 iconic works from 1980 onwards by Chinese artist Chen Zhen (1955-2000). He retreated to Tibet in the 80s, an event which influenced and enriched both his spiritual life and his artistic work. The main themes on display are Man, consumer society and nature, which he explored both from a European and a Chinese cultural perspective, as he moved to Europe in the second part of his life and resided there until his death. His work is based on a transcultural model of thought — a transcendental model in which frictions between contrasting experiences are manifested.


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Musée d'Orsay


Exposiciones en París - Van Gogh - Artaud


Van Gogh / Artaud. The Man Suicided by Society. Until July 6, 2014.


This exhibition is based on the well-known text by Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), Van Gogh, The Man Suicided by Society. Artaud claims that society was to blame for pushing Van Gogh to committing suicide, as he could no longer tolerate the intolerable truths of the world. The exhibition offers around 40 works on display, each of which is accompanied by a quote by Artaud, helping us better understand the nature of the great painter: “Van Gogh is just a painter, nothing more”, “In him there is no philosophy, no mysticism, no ritual, no occultism, no liturgy, no history, no literature, no poetry — yet to understand a storm in the wild, we should seek no-one but him.”



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