David Hockney’s “Normandism” in Rouen and “Impressionism” at Giverny

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Giverny by DH, 2023

I am crazy about David Hockney, and his series of iPad drawings started just after COVID in the house he bought in Normandy, is riveting. They were shown at Galerie Lelong in Paris and at the Tate and Musée Granet in Aix last year. Some of them and other paintings are exhibited in Rouen at Musée des Beaux Arts, until September 22. This is a good excuse to visit the beautiful town, its Museum of Ceramics and cathedral (where Roberto Alagna sings on April 26)  and return to Giverny, an hour away,  where Musée des Impressionistes has a sweet exhibition “l‘Impressionisme et la mer“.

26th November 2020, No. 2, iPad painting printed on paper

To access the Hockney portrait exhibition devoted to his closest collaborators, his doctor, gardener and friends, you have to walk through the beautiful rooms of Musée de Rouen which, like many provincial French museums, hides absolute masterpieces. You first go through the Hubert Robert room with his masterful painting of Château de la Roche Guyon (which has a number of events taking place until the summer). Then there are a number of smaller Impressionists bequeathed in 1909,  by the very generous collector François Depeaux, who had made money in coal mines in Wales. Joseph Delattre, Gustave Loiseau, Albert Lebourg, who painted along the Seine area all visible here. And onn the walls is drawn a fun itinerary along the river with all the artists who painted in Normandy.

The list of artists who painted on the Seine between Giverny and Deauville is drawn on the walls

Then we enter the Jacques-Emile Blanche room with at least twenty portraits including writer Raymond Radiguet‘s, Jean Helleu’s young son, Igor Stravinsky  and Jean Giraudoux. The walls are grey, the paintings quite dark, and suddenly emerges  Hockney’s orange and green self portrait laughing, made on November 22, 2021. He wears a bright tweed suit with a yellow tie.

Self portrait, 22nd November 2021, Acrylic on canvas, collection of the artist

In a larger room some of his works are confronted to Monet’s views of the river and I don’t think it works at all. Monet’s pale colors look weak against his acrylic. A series of moons on paper, is stunning though. They were all done between April and December 2020. The catalog was already sold out after three weeks! (until September 22 Musée des Beaux arts de Rouen)

A Delft violin circa 1710 at Musée de la Céramique in Rouen

In Giverny, the scenery is always magical when you drive over the little bridge next to Monet’s house. The park impeccably kept under Hugues Gall’s attentive supervision, is at the end of the street from the parking. And halfway you find Musée des Impressionismes which used to be the American museum by the Terra foundation. The news of the day was the opening of a new restaurant “Oscar” by the chef, David Gallienne, born in Condé sur Sarthe. He learned to cook with is grandmother and was a laureate of the Top Chef television show, in 2020. His other restaurant Jardin des Plumes, on the same street, already has a Michelin star. The menu at lunch every day, and dinner on week ends only, is at 39€  and 55 € with cheese. I loved smelling oats on my way in, it felt like a horse was eating next to me…

Paul Signac, Barfleur, 1931, Giverny, Musée des Impressionnismes, gift of Charlotte Hellman Cachin in memory of her mother Françoise Cachin

Impressionism will  be all around Normandy this summer competing for the crowds with the 80 th celebration of the landing of allied troops in June 1944. From Corot, their inspirer, to Courbet, Daubigny, Boudin, Renoir, Signac, Pissarro, Jongkind and Monet, cliffs, harbors, waves, low tide, all maritime topics are covered in the pretty galleries of the Museum. Gauguin ends the show in the section “Escape” just after “Storms and shipwrecks”.

Paul Gauguin, Landscape of Te Van, 1896, Le Havre, Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux

There are many works lent by Musée d’Orsay who has a privileged relationship with the departmental museum and numerous Boudin from Musée André Malraux in le Havre.

“Impressionism and the Sea” until June 30, at Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny. You can find the full program of exhibitions from Yvetot to Caen on Normandie Impressionniste 2024 until September 22.

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