the Troyes Museum of Modern Art reopens its doors

the Troyes Museum of Modern Art reopens its doors

Troyes (Aube) continues to regain its colors. Tearing off the plaster from its walls had already made it possible to rediscover this half-timbered town with red and yellow facades. And now the former draper capital finds its Museum of Modern Art, closed in 2018 for renovation.

The setting is this former episcopal palace, at the foot of the cathedral, built of chalk stone and equipped with a delicious garden. It conceals real gems: the works of art brought together by a beauty-loving couple, Pierre and Denise Lévy. By chance of life, Pierre Lévy from Lorraine was assigned to Troyes for his military service in 1927. The young man met his wife there and took over his father-in-law's textile industry. Happy in business, he took the company to the top. The couple then began buying works of art. The couple first acquired paintings from their friend André Derain, before expanding their palette to other artists. At the end of their lives, they bequeathed a nice collection to the State. Thus the Museum of Modern Art of Troyes was created: under the beams of the old episcopal palace, the colors of modern art work wonders.

Concentrated masterpieces

The collection spans a century. And what a century! From approximately 1850 to 1950, painting probably accomplished its most profound revolution, from the realism of Gustave Courbet to the abstract inspirations of Nicolas de Staël. Between the two, there is a fireworks display of tawny colors, of faces at the party in taverns or of women in the factory. The visitor savors each painting like a sun-drenched fruit. Admirably highlighted, Big Ben, by André Derain, explodes in the face. The painter made no secret of it, he who wanted to “use colors like sticks of dynamite”. Objective achieved: the eyes are electrified by this contrast between the blue of Westminster and the sun which shines in small bursts on the Thames. This Fauvist painting alone is worth visiting the museum. But the other works are not left out with the paintings of masters (Modigliani, Van Dongen), the sculptures, the tapestries (a splendid Polynesia by Matisse), the enigmatic masks and statuettes of Africa. Not to mention the glassware which constitutes a little treasure, signed Maurice Marinot. Familiar with the Lévys, the artist was a painter before excelling as a glassmaker. A “magician of glass” who interweaves colors and shapes in Art Deco elegance.

What is striking is that each work deserves the respect of visitors. In some large museums, the eyes can drown in an ocean of paintings. Here, the place remains on a human scale and all the pieces have been selected “with the heart”, according to Pierre Lévy. A subjective journey through art since it corresponds to the choices of the couple of collectors. Thus, the impressionists are not legion and there is little abstraction. The Lévys preferred human figures. One thing is certain: they tasted good.

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