French cultural events
in North America
By Natalie Radolinski
This winter, escape into the world of celebrity past. The Jewish Museum’s SARAH BERNHARDT: THE ART OF HIGH DRAMA celebrates the style, politics and undeniable charisma of the world’s first true movie star. Relishing the limelight, Bernhardt leveraged her fame by lending her image to posters by Alphonse Mucha and Jules Chéret, and putting her name on products from hair curlers to liqueurs. She recognized the power of mass marketing early on and sought out talented artists and designers who could boost her career, soon becoming the most photographed woman in the world.
Her quest for stardom led Andy Warhol, a rising commercial artist, to make several line drawings of the actress. This silkscreen portrait, based on Napoleon Sarony’s photograph, appeared in Warhol’s series “Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century” in 1980. It is one of more than 250 works in various media that offer a glimpse into the multifaceted life of “the Divine Sarah.” Through April 2 at The Jewish Museum in New York City. thejewishmuseum.org
West Palm Beach
French Impressionism and Boston: Masterworks from the Museum of Fine Arts traces the development of Impressionism in both France and the United States and looks in particular at the way that Impressionist works found their way to the homes of Boston collectors during the second half of the 19th century. The show brings together some 50 works by such artists as Claude Monet, Camille Corot and Childe Hassam.
Through March 5, 2006, at the Norton Museum of Art. norton.org
Approximately 35 drawings by François Le Moyne, Charles-Joseph Natoire and Jean-Baptiste Greuze, among others, reveal the tastes of collector Charles E. Dunlap, a Harvard alumnus who contributed prized 18th- and 19th-century works to the university’s art museums. French Drawings and Paintings from Harvard’s Dunlap Collection spotlights Dunlap’s most significant donations and examines the relationships he maintained with his professors, who greatly influenced Dunlap’s growth as a collector and donor.
Through March 12, 2006, at the Fogg Art Museum. artmuseums.harvard.edu
GAUGUIN & IMPRESSIONISM
Perhaps best known for his Polynesian works, Paul Gauguin developed into a professional artist years earlier under the tutelage of Camille Pissarro. Featuring some 50 paintings and 20 sculptures and ceramics, Gauguin and Impressionism focuses on Gauguin’s Impressionist beginnings and follows his career to 1887, when he set sail for Panama and Martinique. The show also presents a unique group of works from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen that includes one of Gauguin’s most ambitious early paintings, “Nude Study (Woman Sewing)” from 1880.
Through March 26, 2006, at the Kimbell Art Museum. kimbellart.org
Believing that fashion should enable freedom of movement, Lucien Lelong pursued what he called “kinetic designs” and created pieces for the Duchess of Windsor, Clare Booth Luce and Marlene Dietrich, among other famous clients. Modern Master: Lucien Lelong, Couturier 1918-1948 presents sportswear, daywear, evening gowns and accessories that reflect the breadth of the designer’s talents. Himself a master of the many aspects of haute couture, Lelong personally sparked the careers of such designers as Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior.
Feb. 28 through April 15 at The Museum at FIT. fitnyc.edu
West Palm Beach
After painting the Stein portraits in 1916, Matisse went on to create a series of some 40 works devoted to a new Italian model, known only by her first name, Laurette. Matisse in Transition: Around Laurette examines the artist’s career from 1916 to 1919, the period during which he first began to paint in series, an approach he would use time and again during his later years in Nice. The exhibit pays particular attention to “Laurette with Long Locks”(1916) and “The Italian Woman”(1916) but also includes numerous paintings and related drawings that reflect each moment in Matisse’s progression from one pose to the next.
Jan. 28 through April 16 at the Norton Museum of Art. norton.org
Around 1907, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso broke away from conventional painting techniques and perspectives to start the movement known today as Cubism. Facets of Cubism focuses on the development of the Cubist movement in France until 1920 and includes paintings, sculptures and works on paper by such artists as Braque, Fernand Léger, Henri Laurens and Jacques Lipchitz. The exhibit is being held in honor of Irving Rabb and his late wife, Dolly, who were benefactors of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and strong promoters of Cubist works.
Through April 16 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. mfa.org
Showcasing many personal items belonging to the Emperor, Napoleon: An Intimate Portrait endeavors to portray the everyday life of the leader, apart from the legend that surrounds him. Created from the collection of Pierre-Jean Chaleçon, a First-Empire authority, the exhibit presents works by some of the greatest artists of the time with more than 250 objects, paintings, prints, documents and furniture items that shed light on the man behind the image.
Feb. 6 through April 30 at the Museum of Florida History. museumoffloridahistory.com
The first retrospective of its kind in the United States, Girodet: Romantic Rebel brings together more than 100 of the French painter’s works that range in subject from mythology to Napoleon’s military triumphs. Greatly influenced by the political and social changes resulting from the French Revolution, Girodet quickly moved from the neoclassical style of his early works to create more dreamlike and Romantic canvases. In addition to his major paintings, the exhibit also includes lesser known preparatory drawings and book illustrations that reveal Girodet’s talents as a draftsman.
Feb. 11 through April 30 at The Art Institute of Chicago. artic.edu
Marking the centenary of the artist’s death, Cézanne in Provence celebrates the achievement of one of the founding fathers of modern art through an exhibition of some 120 of his greatest paintings and watercolors. The exhibit explores the artist’s attachment to his native region through paintings of such places as Cézanne’s family estate, the Jas de Bouffan, which comes to life in portraits of family members, landscapes and estate employees. A highlight of the show is Cézanne’s series of Bathers, which was painted in the studio he built on the outskirts of Aix and is considered by many critics to be his finest masterpiece.
Jan. 29 through May 7 at the National Gallery of Art. nga.gov
An authentic eight-foot-high model forms the centerpiece of French Donjons: Castle of Coucy, Medieval Life in Miniature. Complete with 2,500 individually crafted figurines, the model seeks to capture a moment in time of castle life and castle defense in the Middle Ages: While the kitchen prepares for a feast inside, armaments such as stone catapults, ladders and battering rams stand ready for a siege outside the walls.
Feb. 4 through May 7 at the Joslyn Art Museum. joslyn.org
Meaning “yes, yes” in Romanian, “rocking horse” in French and “a sign of foolish naiveté” in German, the word “Dada” was chosen to convey the internationalism of the Dadaist artist network. The first major museum show to explore this avant-garde movement, Dada presents objects in various media—painting, sculpture, photography, collage, graphic work, sound recordings—organized by the major cities that helped the movement flourish. While many Dadaists criticized the rise of the media and machine culture that followed World War I, they often used elements of the new technologies in their creations. The exhibit features more than 400 of these works by some 40 artists, including Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Tristan Tzara and Francis Picabia. Feb. 19 through May 14 at the National Gallery of Art. nga.gov
GOYA IN BORDEAUX
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes left Madrid for Bordeaux in 1824 at the age of 78; though the Spanish capital had been his home for 50 years, he and other artists like him sought refuge from the persecution of Ferdinand VII. Goya’s Last Works focuses on this lesser known phase of Goya’s career from 1824 to 1828 and features some 50 works including experimental miniatures on ivory made when he was 80 years old. The exhibit begins with “Portrait of a Lady (Maria Martinez de Puga)”(1824) and brings together many pieces from his two final private albums.
Feb. 22 through May 14 at The Frick Collection. frick.org
PARIS AND LONDON
The first exhibit to explore the interaction between French and British artists in the late 19th century, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Sickert: London and Paris, 1870-1910 focuses in particular on the influence of Edgar Degas and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec on painting in Great Britain. Bringing together about 90 works from public and private collections, some never before displayed, the show features such artists as Pierre Bonnard, James Tissot, Henri Fantin-Latour and Edouard Vuillard.
Feb. 18 through May 14 at the Phillips Collection. phillipscollection.org
Born in Paris in 1911, Louise Bourgeois studied art at various schools including the Ecole du Louvre and the Académie des Beaux Arts before immigrating to the United States. She turned to sculptural work in the 1940s and was greatly influenced by the European Surrealists who came to the U.S. after World War II. Louise Bourgeois: Femme, The Art of a Living Legend in a Legendary Art Museum presents 40 works, installed by Bourgeois herself, that span all the major phases of her career. Under the overarching category “Femme,” her pieces reflect themes such as domesticity, parental fidelity and the bodily and social experiences of women.
Feb. 11 through May 21 at the Walters Art Museum. thewalters.org
HENRY OSSAWA TANNER
One of the most important African-American painters of the 20th century, Henry Ossawa Tanner spent most of his career as an expatriate in Paris and was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1923. Henry Ossawa Tanner and the Lure of Paris brings together his major works, including the religious and Orientalist subjects for which he is famous, alongside those of French artists who may have influenced him such as Camille Pissarro, Eugène Delacroix, and Camille Baptiste Corot.
Through May 28 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. artbma.org
ART DECO GLASS
While René Lalique’s early works reflect the human body and other key elements of his academic training, the artist soon developed a unique Art Deco style that he quickly brought to the world market. Déco Lalique explores this transformation from traditional sculptor into 20th-century modernist and pays particular attention to Lalique’s success in applying new design to mass production. The show takes an in-depth look at how Lalique melded art with industry by building upon the press-molded and mold-blown technology that had been developed by French glassmakers in the early 1800s.
Through Jan. 2007 at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. rom.on.ca
Part philosophy and part farce, Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit recounts the story of a man and two women, all recently deceased, who are brought to the same room in hell by a mysterious Valet. Instead of hellfire and torture devices to signify their damnation, the characters find themselves locked in a Second Empire-style drawing room, where they have been placed together to make each other miserable in a never-ending love triangle. The American Repertory Theatre’s cleverly designed set involving a tilted platform places the characters in a literally unstable world in which they must struggle to maintain their balance. With Remo Airaldi as Valet, Will LeBow as Garcin, Karen MacDonald as Estelle and Paula Plum as Inez. Directed by Jerry Mouawad.
Jan. 7 through 29 at Harvard's Loeb Drama Center. amrep.org
Jules Massenet’s La Navarraise comes to the stage this winter with the Academy of Vocal Arts Opera Theatre. Set on a village square near Bilbao during the Carlist war in 1874, Massenet’s tragic opera tells of the passionate love between Sergeant Araquil, a member of the Biscaya regiment, and Anita, a young woman of Navarre. Their relationship meets with great disapproval from Araquil’s father, Remigio, who demands a dowry of 2,000 douros from Anita to marry his son. Determined to be with Araquil, Anita embarks on a dangerous quest to meet Remigio’s seemingly impossible demands.
Jan. 19 and 20 at the Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. avaopera.com
Soprano Dame Felicity Lott, mezzo-soprano Della Jones and the Cleveland Orchestra come together for an evening of music entitled Berlioz-Chausson-Mendelssohn. The concert includes Hector Berlioz’s “Roman Carnival Overture,” based on his opera “Benvenuto Cellini,” and Ernest Chausson’s “Poême de l’amour et de la mer,” one of the few pieces the composer wrote for orchestral production. Conducted by Marc Minkowski.
Feb. 2 through 4 at Severance Hall. clevelandorch.com
Renowned tenor Jean-Paul Fouchécourt and the Opera Lafayette Orchestra present Concert of Airs from Operas by Rameau, a celebration of music by the 18th-century French opera composer. Considered by many to be the leading Rameau specialist, Fouchécourt sings pieces from a wide array of Rameau’s operas including “Platée,” “Les Indes Galantes,” “Les Fêtes d’Hébé” and “Zoroastre.” Conducted and art-directed by Ryan Brown.
Feb. 12 at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. operalafayette.org
SAMSON AND DALILA
Though Camille Saint-Saëns was a prolific composer, only one of his dramatic works has been produced time and again. Now Samson et Dalila returns to the stage once more in a production by the Metropolitan Opera. The opera’s arias movingly evoke the story of the Hebrew leader and the tantalizing seductress who sought to destroy him. With Plácido Domingo as Samson and Olga Borodina and Marina Domaschenko as Dalila. Conducted by Emmanuel Villaume.
Feb. 10 through 25 at the Metropolitan Opera House. metopera.org
ROMEO & JULIET
First heard in Paris in 1867, Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette quickly became one of the most famous adaptations of Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers. This November, the Metropolitan Opera presents the first new production of the tragic opera in nearly 40 years, complete with Juliette’s waltz and Roméo’s balcony aria. Conducted by Bertrand de Billy, with Natalie Dessay as Juliette and Ramón Vargas as Roméo.
Through March 9, 2006, at the Metropolitan Opera House. metopera.org
FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL
The largest French film festival in the United States, the 14th annual Virginia Commonwealth University French Film Festival presents a selection of 12 feature films and 12 short films representative of the most recent developments in French cinema. In addition to showing the movies, the festival provides an opportunity for cinephiles to speak with a delegation of 35 directors, actors and pro-ducers during question-and-answer sessions following the screenings.
March 31 through April 2 at the Byrd Theatre. frenchfilm.vcu.edu
THE NATIONAL D-DAY MUSEUM REOPENS
Designated by Congress as America’s National World War II Museum, the National D-Day Museum reopens for visitors on Saturday, December 3rd, after having been closed to the public since Hurricane Katrina. Built in New Orleans in honor of Andrew Higgins, who created the landing craft that Eisenhower believed won the war for the Allies, the museum explores the economic and political roots of World War II and closely examines the military mobilization of Allied Forces. Four interactive galleries featuring electronic maps, mini-theaters, original artifacts and photomurals offer visitors an intimate look at the heroic efforts that changed the course of the war. Louisiana residents will receive special discounts, and admission is always free for men and women in uniform. For more information about upcoming events, please visit ddaymuseum.org.