At Musée Picasso, there is a good surprise

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Picasso, “Paul as Arlequin”, 1917

Of course the main attraction at Musée Picasso is the presentation of the collections in a decor created by Sir Paul Smith, the fashion designer who loves color. And it is a great incentive for anyone who is deterred by Picasso’s style to see his masterworks in a calm and playful way. But the surprise for me was to discover Faith Ringgold‘s “Black is beautiful” exhibition. It increases its impact to be presented within the museum which celebrates this year the fiftieth anniversary of Picasso death on April 8. I just happened to have started a puzzle of Ringgold’s Sunflowers sent to me from Boston and was thus totally struck to find her paintings and quilts exhibited in the grand Hotel Salé. A double bill which should attract you.

In the Blue room, Le Fou, bronze, and self portrait are very elegantly displayed

My favorite room is the dark blue one with a bronze of Le Fou and Picasso’s self portrait from 1901 in the back. It is a beautiful space perfectly elegant and calm. I also loved the multicolor wall to wall carpeting used by Smith in the stairways and the striped color rooms upstairs.  Cecile Debray has obviously made a change to the presentation of the collections which should appeal to children a lot.

It is a pleasure to slide down this corridor decorated by Paul Smith

The different rooms are emphasized by very bright colors and exceptional art work of course.

I was not familiar with Faith Ringgold’s art (born 1930) and learned that her mother was a fashion designer in Harlem in the thirties, which encouraged her to make quilts. Her sense of color is extraordinary and in this first retrospective of her work in France, one measures the impact of her fight for African American art.

Faith Ringgold, Early Works #15 They Speak no Evil, 1962 courtesy of the artist and d’acs Galleries, New York

An interesting postage series of stamps commemorating in 1967 the Advent of Black Power shows how influential she has been in the US. A room is dedicated to “I have a dream” the famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr. with political quilts hanging on the wall.

Faith Ringgold, “Coming to Jones Road Part 2: Martin Luther King Jr.”, 2010 courtesy the artist and d’Aca galleries, New York.

I enjoyed the three quilts of Paris that she made in 1994, one called Café des Artistes in Saint Germain des Prés, featuring Toulouse-Lautrece, Utrillo, Gauguin and Van Gogh with a group of African American artists. They tell the story of  William Marie Simone , a young Afro American artist who settles in Paris. Another one of Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame seen from afar  with Pont Neuf in the foreground: it is called “Wedding on the Seine” with the bride feeing from church.

Wedding on teh Seine: The French collection Part I, #2, 1991, Private collection

Faith Ringgold is until July 2, Paul Smith and Picasso is until August 27 at Musée Picasso.

It is always safer to book!

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