Bath of light and colors. Arab musicians play the bendir. The sun pierces the skin of their instrument, reddens their nails, digs mauve-blue shadows. This large format canvas contains all the art of the Doubian traveling painter Paul-Élie Dubois (1886-1949). It is part of the retrospective dedicated to him by the museum of the castle of the Dukes of Württemberg, in Montbéliard (Doubs). Dense, the exhibition reveals the influences of this relentless and demanding worker. But also the richness of his work, too long remained in the shadow of his portraits of Tuareg warriors, made in 1928 in Hoggar, a region in southern Algeria, during a scientific exploration mission. Hailed from 1920 by his peers, critics and the public, he was then somewhat forgotten outside his country.
Often described as an orientalist because of the subjects that made him famous, Paul-Élie Dubois flirts with many artistic movements of the 20th century: post-impressionism, nabi, fauvism… However, constants remain in his painting. On the one hand, a deep rootedness in his native land of Franche-Comté. He returns regularly to the “country” and paints all his career landscapes and local inhabitants, as well as his family. On the other hand, a taste for contemplation, solitude and spirituality, perceptible in his representations.
Barbara Gouget, deputy director of the museums of Montbéliard, links him to his strict Protestant darbyst* upbringing. It is therefore not surprising that the desert, surveyed until 1948, neither frightened nor destabilized him. Above all, his meticulous restitution of light and color invades all his canvases, whether it is a bed of wild daisies, a portrait of his bedridden father, bereaved women, the sun shining on the villa Abd- el-Tif of Algiers. A singular approach that his colleagues detected in 1904, when he was only a student landed in Paris. This mastery has become his signature, and a source of enchantment for visitors treading the floor of the museum.
* Literalist movement stemming from Anglicanism.
And also… Neapolitan slices
Between sea and volcanoes, Naples is a vibrant crossroads of contrasts. His painting, by turns dark and colorful, is in the spotlight this summer in two exhibitions, “Naples for passion. Masterpieces from the De Vito collection”, at the Granet museum in Aix-en-Provence (Bouches -du-Rhône) and “Naples in Paris. The Louvre invites the Capodimonte Museum”. With Bellini, Titian, the Parmesan, Caravaggio… In the Grande Galerie, dedicated to Italian painting, we witness an impressive comparison of the invited works and those of the Parisian museum.
By Caravaggio – who stayed only briefly in the capital of the Spanish viceroys – we can thus admire the dramatic Flagellation (1607). Above all, his emulators are represented, such as Artemisia Gentileschi with her Judith decapitating Holofernes or Jusepe de Ribera, whose Apollo and Marsyas represent the dread of the satyr dismembered by the god. These terrible stagings in chiaroscuro in no way obscure the other side of Naples, with in particular Luca Giordano, with Rococo lightness: surrounded by clusters of winged-head poupines, and under a canopy, his Our Lady of the Rosary (circa 1685) is one of the most popular Madonnas of the Neapolitans. The exuberant still lifes by Luca Forte or Giuseppe Ruoppolo still express the delicacy of this transalpine Midi. Sean Rose
At the show at Bonnard
The Troupe of Mlle Églantine immortalized in the middle of the French cancan by Toulouse-Lautrec or the acrobat balancing on a horse from the Cirque by Georges Seurat: the Bonnard museum celebrates the era of entertainment which opens at the Belle Époque with the works of several contemporary artists of Pierre Bonnard, evoking a theater, cabaret interior, café… delights of modern life. This beautiful work in a singular format is the subject of an exceptional loan. SR