It’s always a great joy to board the train for the one hour and fifteen minutes ride to Metz, where Centre Pompidou organizes the most intriguing exhibitions. At the moment, “The adventure of color” a selection of works from the Pompidou center in Paris is an easy show for all publics with some marvelous works by Morrelet and Matisse. And the very much talked about “Modern couples”, puts forward 40 arts couples from 1900 to 1945. Both shows are worth the trip and they complement each other perfectly.
The scandalous couple formed by Nancy Cunard and Henry Crowder, a Black jazz musician is one of the strong moments of the exhibition which is both artistically fascinating and a great tribute to artistic lovers. We learn, in Alexandra Lapierre‘s biography of the Cunard mother and daughter, that after founding a bookstore “The Hours Press” with her lover Louis Aragon, Nancy Cunard published Beckett and many other avant garde writers while Henry Crowder illustrated the cover. The scandal created by her relationship with an African American jazz musician is just one of the many daring relationships of this show.
On the second floor, Dora Maar and Picasso open the show with Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst photographed in Cornwall, by Lee Miller. Fabulous paintings, photographs and stories animate the two floors of the museum. A portrait of Dora Maar by Man Ray, self portraits by Claude Cahun and her high school love, Marcel Moore. Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz put together their antagonistic art in “East river from the Shelton”: Georgia paints it colorfully in 1927 after a black and white photograph of Stieglitz.
There is one stunning room with Robert and Sonia Delaunay. Their collaboration is obvious when you see her fabrics and his colorful paintings including a great self portait. The section of architects and designers working together like Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto an his wife, Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici was less interesting to me as was the Bloomsbury group room which was off subject I thought. Yes, they all slept with each other, but were they a working couple?
I loved the room with Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson’s sculptures and paintings. I have known their work for a while having visited the Tate in St Ives, Cornwall and her studio many times. But her “Two forms” sculpture is just erotically fascinating. A discovery I made was the couple formed by Tina Modotti a wonderful Italian actress turned photographer and American photographer Edward Weston who shared a studio in Mexico city.
There are many, many photographs in the exhibition and maybe to many couples. Some of them could have been passed by for the show is a little long and tiring. And the multiplicity thins the impact.
But when you walk downstairs, you can relax in the wonderful room created by François Morellet and Tadashi Kawamata and Martial Raysse, Raysse Beach. I was lucky to visit it among three classes of 5 year olds from the local school and it gave it all its truculence.
A good video of Daniel Buren’s “Never twice the same” , Matisse’s “Papiers découpés”, the very pretty “Bleu de Ciel” by Vassily Kandinsky and “The Musicians” by Nicolas de Staël concluded this glorious visit. All these works were selected from the collection of Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Centre Pompidou Metz, until 22/07 for the color and 20/08 for Modern couples.
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