Sunday, May 22, 2011

Van Dongen and General Idea

On Saturday, John and I visited the Musée de l'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris to see two major retrospectives. They were displayed in the over-the-top 1937 Exposition building, the Palais de Tokyo, facing the Seine.
Van Dongen: Fauve, anarchist, socialite, was a retrospective of the work of Kees von Dongen that brought to bear the latest historical research to his "enigmatic, contradictory and paradoxical" stages in his career. We both had found what we'd seen of his work problematic and this retrospective made his work much more accessible and told a fascinating tale of his career between 1895 and the early 1930's. We came away with a new appreciation of his oeuvre.
Haute Culture, GENERAL IDEA, 1969-1994, was the most comprehensive and fascinating retrospective of the work of the Canadian art star trio, AA  Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal that we'd ever seen. Tracing their collaborative work through videos, artifacts, ephemera and installations, the exhibition really captures the rebellion, humour and strength of their essentially conceptual art.
I love the colonnaded Art Deco building with its Antoine Bourdelle sculpture of Eternel France on the terrace
and Auguste Janniot's vast bas-reliefs representing the 9 muses framing the staircases. Somehow all the elements of the building and the 2 retrospectives seem to compliment each other perfectly.

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