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Vanités - Musée Maillol

By the past, in ancient Greece, the skeleton suggested the passage of time and the brevity of life. A theme found in the mosaics of Pompeii. At the time, the slave whispered in the ear of the Roman general: "Memento Mori" (Remember that you will die).  Vanity is developed in the late Middle Ages, a time when religion dominates, whence the idea of purgatory, where wars and epidemics make life specially ridiculous. The term "vanity" comes from the words of Ecclesiastes: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Vanity is a reflection on life, moralizing, which should lead to redemption, "said Loic Malle, an art historian who helped design the exhibition. After a decline in the Renaissance, vanity is experiencing a golden age in the seventeenth century. In the south it is often associated with religious scenes. In Northern Europe, it may be an element of still life. With the French Revolution, there is a change in the meaning of the concept of vanity. It was secularized and became an object that is part of the workshop. Skull "will crystallize all fears" but has no "promise of eternity or promise of progress," said Loic Malle. The exhibition is chronological, but in reverse: it begins with the early twenty-first century, where the skull is everywhere, on clothing, jewelry, pubs and even toys. "There's a whole generation of young artists who is very interested in death because our society hides it" considers Patrizia Nitti, new artistic director of the Musée Maillol. For her, "the exhibition is not sad at all." "It's a way to tame death," says she. Andy Warhol painted a series of skulls in bright colors, completely secularized. At the same time, AIDS, plague of modern times, brought death to the heart of art.  Artist emblematic Briton Damien Hirst is famous for platinum skull set with 8601 diamonds. We will not see it but at the Maillol Museum presents an image of the skull that laughs, amid sparkling diamond dust (For the Love of God, Laugh). Damien Hirst has delivered a "surprise" at the Maillol Museum. Knowing that exposed one of his skulls covered with flies (Fear of Death), he has taken another "much more beautiful because it comes complete with its jaw," said Patrizia Nitti. "A small wonder. Even his teeth are in wings of flies," said she.  Basquiat has its skulls voodoo cult in his Haitian origins, Annette Messager creates skulls as children's games, with gloves and crayons. Miquel Barcelo painted a huge skull in the desert, occupying the entire canvas. Robert Mapplethorpe, hit by AIDS, represents himself with a cane pommel shaped skull.  The exhibition compares three beautiful vanities of the seventeenth century, three St. Francis chiaroscuro holding a skull in his hands, leaning back, eyes full of madness in Georges De La Tour (Ecstasy of Saint Francis), full of passion in the Caravaggio (Saint Francis in Meditation) and full of pain Zurbaran (St. Francis kneeling).  The theme of the vanity is in a new eclipse the eighteenth to return to the nineteenth, after the French Revolution. It Gericault who invented the vanity with its glorious secular Three skulls painted in full Napoleonic debacle. In the twentieth century, Picasso and Braque were built of the skulls in their lifes. In 1933, the German Erwin Blumenfeld made a disturbing montage which superimposed a skull and a photograph of Hitler. The exhibition assumes the skull all the sauces, the wings of beetles (Jan Fabre), in packs of Gauloises (Serena Carone), carved fruit and vegetables (Dimitri Tsykalov). The earliest work is a small mosaic table covered Pompeii. A skull symbolizing the body and a butterfly symbolizing the soul are laid on the wheel of life.

That's life, Vanities Caravaggio to Damien Hirst, Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol, 59-61 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, 01-42-22-59-58
Every day except Tuesdays and holidays, 10h30-19h
Rates: 11 € / 9 €
Until June 28, 2010

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