Modern Art. 7 Exhibitions Not to Miss This Summer

Modern Art. 7 Exhibitions Not to Miss This Summer

As the sunny days return, there is a tour of France with exhibitions that shed new light on the great painters of modernity.

Pierre Bonnard, the way of Japan

Bonnard and Japan
Caumont – Art center, in Aix-en-Provence. Until October 6.
Contact: website or 04 42 20 70 01.

Originally, it was a screen. Four vertical panels feature Women in the garden as if inscribed in the vegetation, without perspective, in emerald and gold hues. This is the first splash of the exhibition “Bonnard and Japan”, at the Hôtel de Caumont in Aix-en-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône), which compares the work of the French painter ( 1867-1947) and those of Japanese masters from the beginning of the 19th century, starting with the famous Big wave by Hokusai.

This unique presentation is based on the hypothesis of curator Isabelle Cahn: “This member of the Nabi movement, who discovered oriental prints around 1890, will imbibe their aesthetic and their vision of the world throughout his life. » From the beginning, Pierre Bonnard, challenged by the Buddhist concept of impermanence, tried to materialize the ephemeral, firstly through movement.

Having settled in Paris since 1889, the Fine Arts student focused on the urban effervescence, walking around Montmartre and Batignolles, sketchbook in hand. “For example, in his Green tram it translates the movement in the manner of the painter Hiroshige, with this partly cut wagon, almost already out of the frame, and the numerous passers-by who cross in diagonal Xs,” analyzes Isabelle Cahn.

A vibrant palette

From 1909, the forty-year-old, dazzled by the Côte d’Azur, aspired not only to represent the moment, but to suspend it. “He began to capture the fleetingness of natural phenomena thanks to a palette that became dazzling,” explains Isabelle Cahn. Every day, the walker sketched, in a diary, the beauty of the seasons, skies and lights to recreate them in his studio, like the prints of hanami – celebrating the cherry blossoms in spring. Among the wonders of the exhibition, its seascapes at dusk make perceptible the warmth of the last glowing fires of the summer sun that irradiate the skin of vacationers.

In Isabelle Cahn’s eyes, “Bonnard is attached to deep happiness, where extreme joy and the anguish of its disappearance mingle.” Just as Japanese artists had engraved their “floating world,” the French painter immortalized his daily life, as the years flew by: the laughing lunch of his still small nephews, or the pearly body of his companion in full toilette… The grace of little nothings to, he hoped, “arrive before the young painters of the year 2000 with butterfly wings.”

Joan Miró, a work of magnitude

Miro. A blaze of signs
Grenoble Museum. Until July 21.
Info: 04 76 63 44 44 or on the website

Blue background, thin lines, black dots and red bars. Gathered in a room at the Grenoble museum (Isère), Blue I, Blue II, Blue III by Joan Miró (1893-1983) capture the visitor. These 3.5 m oils, executed on March 4, 1961, form a milestone in the artist’s approach. “It took me a long time to make them. Not to paint them but to meditate on them,” Miró explained at the end of their execution. “They represent a form of achievement. From the first to the third canvas, Miró moves towards simplicity,” points out Sophie Bernard, co-curator of the exhibition.

This retrospective of the Catalan artist offers even more than this hypnotic face-to-face. In 18 rooms and 130 works (paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, etc.), it reveals seven decades of experimentation from which emerge the importance of the background and the stain, the refusal of prettiness and virtuosity, the language Mironian composed of non-fixed recurring motifs… D’ Interior (1922-1923), marking his exit from realism, at his Constellations small formats of exile reflecting his fascination for the Norman skies observed between 1940 and 1955, through his sculptures, his artistic trajectory is revealed to the public. And contradicts the reductive image of a painter associated with childhood because of his summary graphics.

Despite his unalterable international notoriety since the 1980s, Miró’s work remained little shown in France in its scope. The Grenoble museum remedies this brilliantly.

The Buffet Enigma

Bernard Buffet, medieval and pop
Fontevraud Museum of Modern Art. Until September 29.
Rens.: 02 41 51 73 52 or the website

We sometimes reduce Bernard Buffet (1928-1999) to his sad clowns and his black thistles. “At the Fontevraud museum (Maine-et-Loire), we wanted to show the range of his production, by confronting its extremes: medieval and pop,” explains curator Dominique Gagneux.

From 1948, at the age of 20, the gifted artist, considered the equal of Picasso, evoked the disarray of the post-war period by seizing medieval imagery: he represented his contemporaries as hieratic figures enclosed in their settings and even like modern Christs in revisited scenes from the Bible.

From the end of the 1950s, his sharp lines, close to comic strips, were adorned with colors to depict the icons of the leisure society: azure coffee makers, gleaming 2 CVs, golden towers of New York… Fontevraud offers a stroll through within a bewitching work, both painful and brilliant, which remains a mystery.

4 other exhibitions to discover this summer!

“Max Jacob, whimsical cubism”

The museum, enlarged and renovated in Céret (Pyrénées-Orientales), explores fantasy in the production of one of the figures of Cubism. And paints a portrait of his complex and dual personality.

Museum of Modern Art of Céret
From June 29 to December 1. Rens. : website or 04 68 8 7 27 76.

“Turner, the sublime legacy”

Eighty paintings by the 19th century master of light and atmosphere, including masterpieces from the Tate in London, dialogue with the creations of fifteen modern and contemporary artists.

Grimaldi of the Monaco forum
From July 6 to 1er Sept. Info: website or +377 99 99 30 00.

“David Hockney, Normanism”

Here is the recent work of David Hockney, 86 years old, so seduced by Normandy that he has settled there since 2019. Night drawings made with a digital tablet, portraits and landscapes in acrylic are divided into three parts. An exhibition presented free of charge during the Normandy Impressionist Festival 2024.

Rouen Museum of Fine Arts
Until September 22. : Info.: website; 02 35 7128 40.

“Vera Molnar, talking to the eye”

Proponents of artistic creation through artificial intelligence consider it their ancestor. The Pompidou Center in Paris is dedicating a retrospective to Vera Molnar, a Hungarian visual artist who evolved from geometric abstraction to computer-programmed series.

Paris Pompidou Center
Until August 26. Rens: website or 01 44 78 12 33.

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