From the Mayas to Medieval Morocco, a Round-the-World Round-Up of Paris’ Temporary Treasures
Paris must undoubtedly lay claim to one of the finest and most diverse collection of temporary exhibitions across Europe, if not the world. With its wealth of museums and grand exhibition halls, there’s always a fascinating and eclectic mix of subject matter on offer to complement the already prestigious permanent collections on display throughout the year. Often we concentrate on the great painters, whose artistic masterpieces grace the walls of many a Parisian civic institution. And yet, over the winter months, there’s a wide wealth of ethnographical, historical, cultural and artistic subject matter originating from all four corners of the globe to be explored in the French capital. Here’s a brief round-up of just a few of the far-reaching exhibitions taking place in Paris over the winter months…
Occupying an exceptional location on the banks of the River Seine at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du Quai Branly displays some 3500 works of art including costumes, masks and musical instruments from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, presented so as to highlight the historical depth of the civilisations and cultures that produced them. Running until 8th February, 2015, the Quai Branly presents ‘The Mayas, three thousand years of civilisation’, exploring the mysteries surrounding the histories of the Mayas, a historically fascinating South American civilisation who were reputedly at the early forefront of architecture, astronomy, writing, art and maths.
Also on temporary display at the Quai Branly is an exhibition devoted to the distinctive black and white art of the Solomon Islands, a Pacific archipelago comprising some 900 individual islands. Paying particular attention to the cultural traditions of the western and eastern provinces in addition to the Polynesian enclaves, the exhibition presents the way in which “the technical and visual characteristics of the objects depict the relationships between humans and between humans and supernatural beings”. Open daily except Monday (11am until 7pm; 9pm Thursday to Saturday), entrance costs 11€ to visit both the permanent and temporary collections.
Over at the Grand Palais, one of the smaller exhibitions taking place at this fabulous venue is devoted to ‘Haiti, two centuries of artistic creation’. Combining paintings, poetry, sculptures, installations, mobile suspensions and videos, this artistic Haitian ensemble of 150 works dates from the 19th century to the present day and seeks to show off the creativity of its people, with influences from religion, voodoo magic, poetry and politics. Open daily (except Tuesdays), the exhibition runs until 15th February, 2015 and entrance costs 13€.
Perhaps one of Paris’ lesser-known exhibition spaces, situated on the Rue Vignon in the 9th arondissement, the Pinacothèque de Paris presents two exhibitions in late-2014-early-2015 falling under the seasonal banner, ‘Art and Eroticism in the East’. The first, ‘The Art of Love in the Time of Geishas: Forbidden Japanese Masterpieces’ (until 15th February, 2015), explores life and culture in Japan during the Edo period (1603 – 1867), bringing together over 200 etchings, prints and other artefacts best reflecting these hedonistic traditions.
Until 11th January, 2015 the Pinacothèque also offers ‘The Kama-Sutra: Spirituality and Eroticism in Indian Art’, exploring the erotic aesthetics of Indian cultural life and Hinduism. Single tickets cost 13€ apiece yet visit both exhibitions on the same day and you’ll get a 50% discount on your second ticket. Due to the sexual nature of the exhibitions, under 18s are advised not to visit. The Pinacothèque is open daily (except Tuesdays) from 10.30am until 6.30pm, with late-night opening on Wednesday and Fridays until 8.30pm.
A short distance away at the mighty Musée du Louvre meanwhile, one of its temporary exhibitions is dedicated to ‘Medieval Morocco: An Empire from Africa to Spain’. Running until 19th January, 2015, the exhibition takes a look at the 11th to the 15th centuries, a period in which the western Islamic world was at the height of its artistic and historical glory, with some 300 works including textiles, ivory, calligraphy and architectural decoration chronologically showcasing the Moroccan and Andalusian cultural landscape. The Louvre is open daily (except Tuesdays) from 9am until 6pm, with late-night opening on Wednesday and Fridays until 9.45pm. Entrance costs 13€ for the exhibition itself, but for 16€, you’ll also get to visit the wealth of treasures to be found in its permanent portfolio.
And last but not least, if you’ve indulged in medieval Morocco, why not take in its contemporary side with a visit to the Institut du Monde Arabe in the Latin Quarter, showcasing the many facets of artistic and creative output in contemporary Morocco today, from visual and video art to architecture and fashion. Closed Mondays, the Institut opens daily from 10am until 6pm (until 9.30 on Fridays and 7pm on weekends and bank holidays). The exhibition runs until 25th January, 2015 and entrance costs 8€.