At Petit Palais, Modernity is the theme

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Marie Laurencin, “Portrait of Max Jacob,” 1908, Orléans, Musée des Beaux Arts

This is the third part of a trilogy started by Christophe Leribault at Petit Palais with “Paris Romantique ” in 2019 and “Paris 1900”, in 2021. “Le Paris de la Modernité, 1905-1925” is a multifaceted show starting with Montmartre and Montparnasse, the beginnings of automobile and aviation, Paul Poiret and Jeanne Lanvin’s fashion, the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and the Ballets Russes, the War, les “Années Folles” and the influence of Americans, and again Montparnasse, Joséphine Baker and the Exposition Universelle of 1925. It is a huge show (of 400 pieces) curated by Annick Lemoine, director of le Petit Palais and Juliette Singer, scientific adviser.  You will see many works that you already know but there are wonderful discoveries to be made like the paintings of Jacqueline Marval, Marcel Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel”, Gino Severini‘s futurist “La Danse du pan-pan au Monico” or Albert Marquet’s sculpture of a child which inspired the word fauvism to the art critic Louis Vauxcelles, who described it as “Donatello chez les Fauves”.

Marcel Duchamp, “Bicycle Wheel”, 1913-1964, Centre Pompidou

There is a lot to choose from in this exhibition and all kinds of publics will love it. After the introductory rooms of Kees Van Dongen and a very surprising portrait of Max Jacob by Marie Laurencin, a painting of  the artists’ city “La Ruche” by Michel Kikoïne, and superb early paintings by Chagall, I particularly liked Natalia Gontcharova‘s “Still life with lilacs” which is already cubist. Roger de la Fresnaye’s impressive “Cuirassier”, inspired by Géricault’s “Wounded Cuirassier”, is followed by the Cubists of the 1911 Salon: Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes and Henri Le Fauconnier  are followers of Picasso of course, who is present with the fantastic, “La Femme au pot de moutarde” lent by the Kunstmuseum Den Haag in The Hague.

Henri Le Fauconnier, “Abundance”, 1910, Kunstmusuem den Haag, Albert Gleizes, “The Bathers”, 1912, Paris Musée d’Art Moderne, Jean Metzinger, “The Blue Bird”, 1912-1913, Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne

The Italian futurists Marinetti, Boccioni, Severini, are in a beautiful room which introduces  speed and movement:  a 1911 aeroplane lent by Musée du Bourget, faces the wonderful Duchamp Wheel, with a propeller designed by Chauvière. Fashion and jewelry follow with Cartier ad Poiret and the couturier’s role in promoting artists such as Robert Delaunay and Marie Laurencin.  I then discovered Jacqueline Marval, one of the painters involved in the decors of the Foyer de la Danse of Théâtre des Champs Elysées under Antoine Bourdelle’s supervision. A portrait of Nijinsky and Karsavina is also very pretty. Igor Stravinsky’s portrait by Jacques Emile Blanche concludes this musical section before the War occupies the galleries.

Jacqueline Marval, La Danse Bleue, 1913, Société Immobilière du Théâtre des Champs Elysées

A film of WWI, a few paintings by Vallotton which make the war seem almost abstract, precede Foujita’s irresistible portrait of a little girl and André Derain’s. Then follows the inevitable lesbian room with Tara de Lempicka, Foujita again, and Chana Orloff‘s Bronze portrait of Romaine Brooks.

Félix Vallotton, Senegalese soldiers at the Mailly camp, 1917, Musée de l’Oise, Beauvais

A splendid room is devoted to the 1925 Art Deco exhibition with Edgar Brandt’s Internal door of the Collector’s Pavilion, Joseph Bernard’s  “The Dance” and Jacques Emile Ruhlmann’s “Treasury” (Chariot Chest).

I was happy to walk out of  the museum through its permanent collection of wonderful 1900 portraits and sculptures. The show is a great introduction to the first quarter of the XX th century ad I recommend it to all teenagers…

Petit Palais “Le Paris de la Modernité” until April 14.

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