Francisco Goya y Lucientes
Meijer de Haan
The exhibition Crime and Punishment looks at a period of some two hundred years: from 1791, when Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau called for the abolition of the death penalty, to 30 September 1981. In the work of the greatest painters, Goya, Gericault, Picasso and Magritte, images of crime or capital punishment resulted in the most striking works. The son of a rich Cuban plantation owner, P.H. Emerson began to take a passionate interest in photography in the early 1880s, the two albums here represent defining moments in Emerson's career, and demonstrate the changes in his artistic development. The painter Meijer de Haan (1852-1895) is mainly known today for the often mysterious portraits of him painted by his 'friend' Paul Gauguin. He began painting in his native Holland, then continued mainly in France, but his work remains largely unknown.
Crime and Punishment
17 March - 27 June 2010
General curator: Jean Clair, Member of the Académie Française, general heritage curator
Philippe Comar, professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts
Laurence Madeline, curator at the Musée d'Orsay
The exhibition Crime and Punishment looks at a period of some two hundred years: from 1791, when Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau called for the abolition of the death penalty, to 30 September 1981, the date the bill was passed to abolish it in France. Throughout these years, literature created many criminal characters. The title of the exhibition is itself taken from a work by Dostoyevsky. In the press, particularly the illustrated daily newspapers, the powerful fantasy of violent crime was greatly increased through novels.
At the same time, the criminal theme came into the visual arts. In the work of the greatest painters, Goya, Géricault, Picasso and Magritte, images of crime or capital punishment resulted in the most striking works. The cinema too was not slow to assimilate the equivocal charms of extreme violence, transformed by its representation into something pleasurable, perhaps even into sensual pleasure.
It was at the end of the 19th century that a new theory appeared purporting to establish a scientific approach to the criminal mind. This tried to demonstrate that the character traits claimed to be found in all criminals, could also be found in their physiological features. Theories like these had a great influence on painting, sculpture and photography. Finally, the violence of the crime was answered by the violence of the punishment: how can we forget the ever-present themes of the gibbet, the garrotte, the guillotine and the electric chair?
Beyond crime, there is still the perpetual problem of Evil, and beyond social circumstances, metaphysical anxiety. Art brings a spectacular answer to these questions. The aesthetic of violence and the violence of the aesthetic - this exhibition aims to bring them together through music, literature and a wide range of images.
Please note that some of the pieces presented in the exhibition may be shocking to some visitors (particularly children).
A project of
Photography Not Art
17 March - 20 June 2010
Curator: Thomas Galifot, curator at the Musée d'Orsay
The son of a rich Cuban plantation owner, P.H. Emerson began to take a passionate interest in photography in the early 1880s, when he was studying medicine in England. Initially an advocate and theoretician of "naturalistic" photography, from 1890 onwards, he moved towards a less contrived style, focusing his attention more on the landscape.
The two albums here represent defining moments in Emerson's career, and demonstrate the changes in his artistic development. Life and Landscapes on the Norfolk Broads that appeared in 1886 was his first book. Like Jean-François Millet, his favourite subject was rural life, and he conferred a monumentality and timeless solemnity on the actions and customs of country dwellers. Marsh Leavespublished in 1895, is the photographer’s last book. The peasants have disappeared, replaced by landscapes, and naturalism gives way to a restrained, subtle poetry greatly influenced by Japanese art.
The quality of P.H. Emerson's work and its evolution alongside the emergence of Pictorialism make this artist one of the fathers of the revival of art photography.
Meijer de Haan, the Hidden Master
17 March - 20 June 2010
Jelka Kröger, art historian, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
Sylvie Patry, curator, Musée d'Orsay, assisted by Philippe Mariot, archivist, Musée d'Orsay
André Cariou, Director, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper
The painter Meijer de Haan (1852-1895) is mainly known today for the often mysterious portraits of him painted by his 'friend' Paul Gauguin. He began painting in his native Holland, then continued mainly in France, but his work remains largely unknown. He was, however, an important figure in Gauguin's circle during the late1880s. Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Amsterdam, De Haan revealed his artistic talents at a young age. His early work was influenced by Rembrandt. The scandal provoked by Uriel Acosta, a large painting now lost, forced De Haan to moved to Paris in 1888. It was there that he met Gauguin. His career and his style of painting were radically transformed by this meeting. From April 1889 to October 1890 he painted alongside Gauguin at Le Pouldu and Pont-Aven. Sérusier, Filiger, Schuffenecker, Morgens Ballin and Jan Verkade made up the rest of this more or less tightly knit group.
Meijer de Hann's painting embraced and developed the principles of Synthetism championed by Bernard and Gauguin: simplification and flat areas of bright colour to evoke an image of Brittany readily perceived as 'primitive'.
This exhibition was conceived following an initiative by the Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam, and organised with the Musée d'Orsay, Paris and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Quimper.
Image: Théodore Géricault (1791-1824)Etude de pieds et de mains1818-1819Huile sur toileH. 52; L. 64 cmMontpellier, Musée Fabre © Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération – cliché Frédéric Jaulmes
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