Lumières: Carte blanche à Christian Lacroix

Art, Painting
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 (Vue du musée Cognacq-Jay dans le cadre de la carte blanche à Christian Lacroix, automne 2014 / Photo : © Raphaël Chipault & Benjamin Soligny)
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Vue du musée Cognacq-Jay dans le cadre de la carte blanche à Christian Lacroix, automne 2014 / Photo : © Raphaël Chipault & Benjamin Soligny
 (Pierre Gonnord, 'Charlotte' / © Pierre Gonnord )
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Pierre Gonnord, 'Charlotte' / © Pierre Gonnord
 (Jean - Baptiste Greuze, 'Petit garçon au gilet rouge', entre 1775 et 1780 / Paris, musée Carnavalet / © Musée Cognacq- Jay / Roger-Viollet)
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Jean - Baptiste Greuze, 'Petit garçon au gilet rouge', entre 1775 et 1780 / Paris, musée Carnavalet / © Musée Cognacq- Jay / Roger-Viollet
 (Tim Walker, 'Xiao Wen in Sherbertyellow Marilyn Wig' / © Tim Walker)
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Tim Walker, 'Xiao Wen in Sherbertyellow Marilyn Wig' / © Tim Walker
 (Vincent J. Stoker, 'Hétérotopia#TEEDI' / © Vincent J.Stoker )
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Vincent J. Stoker, 'Hétérotopia#TEEDI' / © Vincent J.Stoker
 (Dessin de Christian Lacroix / © Monsieur Christian Lacroix)
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Dessin de Christian Lacroix / © Monsieur Christian Lacroix
 (Niclas Lafrensen, dit Nicolas Lavreince, 'La Consolation de l’absence', c. 1785-1790 / © Musée Cognacq-Jay / Roger-Viollet )
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Niclas Lafrensen, dit Nicolas Lavreince, 'La Consolation de l’absence', c. 1785-1790 / © Musée Cognacq-Jay / Roger-Viollet
 (Grégoire Alexandre, 'Viktor&Rolf, Surface', 2010 / © Grégoire Alexandre )
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Grégoire Alexandre, 'Viktor&Rolf, Surface', 2010 / © Grégoire Alexandre
 (Maurice Quentin de La Tour, 'Autoportrait au jabot de dentelle', c. 1750 / © Musée Cognacq-Jay / Roger-Viollet )
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Maurice Quentin de La Tour, 'Autoportrait au jabot de dentelle', c. 1750 / © Musée Cognacq-Jay / Roger-Viollet
 (Louise Bossut, 'Paysage bruxellois sous la neige' / © Louise Bossut )
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Louise Bossut, 'Paysage bruxellois sous la neige' / © Louise Bossut
 (Canaletto, 'Le Grand Canal, vu du pont du Rialto', c. 1725- 1730 / © Musée Cognacq-Jay / Roger- Viollet)
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Canaletto, 'Le Grand Canal, vu du pont du Rialto', c. 1725- 1730 / © Musée Cognacq-Jay / Roger- Viollet

Set in the centre of the Marais between a cluster of chic modern galleries, the Musée Picasso, the MAHJ and the Carnavalet, the Musée Cognacq-Jay has long suffered from the local competition and a slightly dusty image. Dedicated to the collection of 17th-century objects and artworks of Samaritaine founder Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, the museum has struggled to find its place in the Parisian cultural landscape – until now. As of early 2015, it has re-opened after several months of inspired renovations, and is completely reinvigorated.

The carte blanche offered to Christian Lacroix to celebrate the reopening has given the collection a whole new lease of life. Perked up by classy lighting and chic décor, pieces by Fragonard, Watteau, Canaletto, Boucher and Rembrandt are finally being shown to their advantage. As well as curating the ‘Lumières’ exhibition, Lacroix has given the space new élan through clever use of deliciously modernised baroque wallpapers, carpets, rugs and wall hangings – only the final room, under the roof, is still a little dull.

A little like the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, which was brilliantly relaunched a few years ago, the exhibition that inaugurates new look Cognacq-Jay juxtaposes 18th century works with contemporary pieces in a move that is very fashionable, but so intelligently handled that it allows us to simultaneously rediscover period pieces with a new perspective and to grasp the importance that the ideas behind them still hold today.

Everything hangs together with remarkable harmony – sculpture (Bernard Quesniaux), art deco (great furniture by Ferruccio Laviani), painting (John Currin), fashion (Christian Lacroix, naturally, and also Vivienne Westwood) and photography (Tim Walker, Pierre Gonnord) occupy the corridors with amazing naturalness, to the point where you don't really notice which period each piece comes from.

By: Mikaël Demets/EH

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