Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Photo: © MAP, © Service presse Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais / Agence Bulloz
Beauty or ugliness? This is the question here. Is a rat inevitably repulsive? And why do we still think that the peacock is the king of birds? From tomorrow on, the Grand Palais is showing an extraordinary exhibition about “Animal Beauty” bringing together 120 masterpieces of Western Art from the Renaissance to the present day.
It was actually in the Renaissance that the naturalist representation of animals really took off. The German artist Albrecht Durer invented what he called the Tierstück, literally “animal piece”. From then on, the animal, wild or domesticated never left the canvas.
In five chapters and through a set of major works, the exhibition not only looks at the relationships that artists have developed with animals, but also shows how our relationship towards nature and its creatures have constantly changed. Why did the horse always represent the upmost perfection? Why do we still consider the peacock as the king of birds and pinnacle of beauty as the French Buffon described it? Why did others never seem to be a valuable subject? How did prejudgement form our gaze? And then, why did the dog only earn the right to its own portrait in the middle of the 16th century?
Emmanuelle Héran, curator of the show, told the story of a Goya painting showing a cat fight. When it was discovered, it was soon evident that Goya had madea kind of template for a tapestry. Curiously and, until today, some art historians still claim that this painting cannot possibly be a true Goya. Why? Because “a great painter like him would never have painted such a humble subject”.
Beauty or ugliness? The answer is obvious. Even if the representation of animals was, for a long time, considered as a dubious subject in art history, the 120 masterpieces brought together here, show you the soul of the animals. Some are breathtakingly beautiful, others just very touching, others again will not easily earn your sympathy : Louise Bourgesoise adored spiders; Picasso was very much into toads. The beast is not always the beauty.Beauté Animal – FINISHED – FROM 21 MARCH UNTIL 16 OF JULY 2012 – FINISHED!! Grand Palais