This retrospective of César Baldaccini at Centre Pompidou, bringing together around 100 pieces from around the world, is one of the most anticipated of the year. It also stands as the first complete retrospective of the artist spanning his entire career. From his beginnings in illustration at the age of 25 to his mastership of sculpture his talent lead him to become one of art's great innovators. Considered one of the most radical sculptors of the 20th century, his pieces developed as he advanced in his craft - only interrupted by his death in 1998.Upholding a balance between modernity and tradition, over a 50-year career he managed to constantly reinvent himself. And still, his most famous sculpture is found in the hands of the best French actors every year...
An exhibition dedicated entirely to pastels is rare – partly because they are so difficult to preserve and so often stay hidden away in museum archives. But the Petit Palais is an exception, presenting 130 works from pastel’s second Golden Age, around the nineteenth century. Take a journey through symbolism, impressionism and realism and leave in awe of the depth and light of this difficult medium. The selection of artists is impressive: Redon, Renoir, Degas, Gauguin, Morisot, to name but a few. It’s a feast for the senses – Degas (the undisputed king of pastel) juxtaposes colours and figures, but go up close and it’s an abstract wonder. Redon, another great, is proof that the less detail added, the more the viewer is free to embellish the image with their imagination. Each work is unmissable.
Visual artist Mohamed Bourouissa is known for his focus on the marginalised in society; prisoners, the employed and illegal street peddlers have all been his subjects in the past. In 2014, he became involved with the Afro-American residents of Strawberry Mansion, the Northern district of West Philadelphia where horse riding is at the heart of everyday life. The Fletcher Street Stables is as much a refuge for young adults, as it is for the horses saved from the slaughterhouse – and is a contemporary revival of the past's representations of black cowboys. During his stay, Bourouissa organised Horse Day, where local artists and equestrians worked together to create the best horse costume. The exhibition documents this day of celebration, with the artist’s sketches and collages taking us to the inner world of these city riders. Despite its documentary style, an additional film sets up a parallel universe, where the artist relies on multiple points of view to raise awareness of this unusual reality. The overall effect is of having broken apart the American paradox (or rather the false illusions of the American Dream) – riding full pelt from dreams to dystopia.
After the Petit Palais' last marvellous exhibition, it's pulled out all the stops for a truly five-star experience. The theme? Paris. The line-up? It’s Franco-Batavian and seriously impressive: over 115 works by Van Gogh, Mondrian, Scheffer, Van Dongen, Millet and Cezanne, to name but a few. This rich chronological 19th-century collection makes the links between freshly arrived Dutch artists and the Parisian masters. Paris, a city where all is possible, transformed the conservative and out-dated attitudes of the Dutch artists and rather than carrying on the tradition of their elders, they set a great artistic revolution in motion. Take Van Gogh for example, who painted the Butte Montmartre in a pointillist style at the end of the 19th century, or Mondrian, who plunged himself into his own interpretation of cubism. This is a mesmerising deep-dive into the Pigalle of yesteryear.