Monday, 19 November 2012

The Pinacotheque Museum, Paris

The Pinacotheque Museum, Paris

The Pinacotheque Museum is in the heart of Paris, in the elegant Place de la Madeleine, and is one of the capital’s newest museums. It has been directed by Marc Restellini since 2007 – a daring and inspiring curator who has welcomed diverse and interesting exhibitions as well as secured some of the most amazing masterpieces in the world to put on show.

The Museum’s own collection is normally housed on the lower ground floor and is made up of long term loans from private collectors. Restellini has advocated an unusual and never-done-before philosophy of assembling the paintings and sculptures in no particular school or period. In this sense, for example, a painting by the illustrious Renaissance painter Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-94) is placed alongside the twentieth century French artist Gaston Chaissac (1910 –64) Similarly a piece by Eugene Delacroix (1826) is neighbours with a painting by Theodore Gericault (1791-1824) The aim of this modern and rather audacious idea is to bring out each painting’s individuality and radiance. The comparison between each painting or set of paintings becomes very rich and exciting. Restellini’s self proclaimed aim is to try to evoke the same magic a work of art has in a private home as in the Pinacotheque.

There are many masterpieces and works of art to admire. One of my favourite paintings in this collection is by Pieter de Hooch, the renowned genre painter of the Dutch Golden Age, 1629-1684. He was a contemporary of Jan Vermeer whose themes and styles he adopted in his work. The painting on display called ‘A Man reading a letter to his wife’ is one of his most famous and reveals his clever and delicate mastery of light, colour and perspective . He was renowned for choosing intimate family scenes and tableaux. The Modigliani painting that is exhibited is also incredible. Called ‘Hanka Zborowska’ it leapt out at me both because of the intensity of the colours he used and the force of his sitter’s gaze. Modigliani, we learn, was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked and lived mainly in France. He was primarily a figurative artist who worked in a modern style and became famous for his mask like faces and elongation of form just like this Hanka painting.

Another glorious painting on display is by Renoir and is entitled ‘Portrait of Georgette–Marie Malivernet ’. This is a side profile of a young lady, her head bending low in peaceful contemplation. The warm pastel colours are in tune with the feeling of serenity the painting conveys.

I would have to warn any potential visitor that the room housing the permanent collection is a little claustrophobic and the lighting is poor. Many people have complained of long queues to get into the museum so it is advisable to buy a ticket before hand. Yet notwithstanding this the quality of the exhibitions that are on show and the calibre of the pieces on display in the permanent collection make The Pinacotheque an imperative museum to visit.

By Larissa Woolf, Arts Editor,

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