Friday, April 17, 2015

Lumières: Carte-blanche à Christian Lacroix, Musée Cognacq-Jay - Paris



I have always preferred Paris' small museums.

Within their confines, I can focus freely without the push and pull of crowds and each has something unique in perspective to offer while always tilting towards the beautiful. The Musée Cognacq-Jay was one of my favorites while I lived there, certainly as it was one of the least known bijoux of the Marais but also - for a girl who did not have a song to her name - it was free. 

It was quite sleepy in those days, so quiet that the guards were often caught nodding off in their perspective corners. Still, I went. The collection, which was founded by the owner of the La Samaritaine department store Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jay in 1927, focuses entirely on the fine arts dating from the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment in France. The pieces - including paintings, drawings, furniture and objets d'art - were moved into the 16th century Hotel Donon by the City of Paris in 1990 and there they sat. It was entirely for the visitor to conjure up the romanticism of the period in order to be swept from one room to another.

No more. To celebrate its newly appointed renovation, the museum's directors decided to give carte-blanche to designer Christian Lacroix. The irony that I would be spending some of my precious few hours in Paris seeing the work of Arles' prodigal son was not lost on me but I have a great respect for the commitment that Mr. Lacroix gave to the renovation of the Musee Reattu and with the Rencontres International Photography Festival. I knew that I would be in for a treat and I was not disappointed.

The exhibition was, quite simply, one that I enjoyed for the sheer pleasure of the experience more than any other that I have seen in recent memory. It is a beautiful gift when the precise kind of art that your weary heart needs arrives just beyond the range of your tingling fingertips, isn't it? For what was the most interesting to me, the most stimulating, was that, of the 450 pieces on display, 150 were borrowed from other institutions with the express hope of creating a confrontation between the 18th century - its ideals and deceptions - and our society today. Suddenly, the collection is electric and alive with relevance. 

Christian Lacroix's signature touches can be seen throughout - from the truly spectacular carpets and wall furnishings that would be worthy of an exhibition in their own right, to examples of his magnificent theatrical costumes - and indeed he was heavily involved in the reorganization of one's visit to the museum as well as the exhibition itself. He has expressed that his intention was not to look at the renovation so much as for a museum but as if it were the house of a collectionneur, perhaps the Cognacq-Jays themselves and it is a concept that exudes great warmth throughout. There was so much for me to take in - the details and the juxtapositions are fantastic - that I could have spent all day in those gilded rooms but time was not on my side. However, I did my best to steady my camera in the often shadowy spaces to try and share with you a bit of what I experienced and I was so gourmande that there will be a second post to follow. Like me, hopefully this beautiful exhibition just might set you dreaming...













If you happen to be in Paris...go! The exhibition closes this weekend. I promise you, you won't regret stepping into the en(Light)enment.


Lumières: Carte-blanche à Christian Lacroix
Musée Cognacq-Jay
8, rue Elzevir
75003 Paris

Open 10am - 6pm
Closed Mondays. The exhibition ends on April 19th but there will much that will remain so do go.
Price: 8€ per person.
Unfortunately, the museum is not at all accessible to those with reduced-mobility.
There is app for the exhibition en français. If you are interested, see here.

For more information about the museum in English: click here.






21 comments:

  1. THOSE SHOES!
    Especially, the ones on the LEFT!!!!!!
    That has been on my "HIT" list the last two visits but I have never gotten there..............HAPPY YOU DID!
    Looks magical to me................XO

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    1. Manalo Blahniks! Well-spotted my beautiful Contessa...and do go next time, you would love it!

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    1. You are quite welcome, Joan. You know that I like to write about art when I can. :)

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  3. Wow... a person could get lost in there.

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  4. WOW!! This looks amazing - and so YOU; were you quivering with delight? It does look like an amazing renovation and exhibition, and you captured it beautifully. I love the mannequins who seem to be viewing the art, and the old/new art side by side is wonderful. How wonderful that you were able to view this - thank you for sharing it with US! Also, my French is pretty shabby, but I take that sign to mean something like, "Paris, it is the world. The rest of the earth is for dummies". (or my alternate translation of the 2nd part is: "the rest of the earth is not for the fabulous people").

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    1. Sister, you are so awesome. While the literal translation is "Paris, it is the world. The rest of the planet is nothing but its suburb" you totally nailed the meaning!! Score one for Sistah Pamplemousse!

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  5. Well, you know that we can't get there, so thanks so much for sharing! We were able to come along with you for the ride and we look forward to part 2, yet to come! Gorgeous shoes. Divine dress and the groupings of old and modern made it seem more personal and quirky! Love it!
    Cheers,
    Deborah

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    1. Thank you Deborah, more girlyness to come in Part two...

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  6. I can tell you went to Yale because I had to read your blog three times just to soak it all in. Every sentence is so full and I just love it love it love it. I wish I could've gone to this exhibit with you. I can see us holding hands and squealing with delight at each turn. Thank you so much for sharing this. What's next?

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    1. Next is the rest of the exhibition! And as I mentioned, you were right there with me in spirit - it is why I took so many photos. But if you had been in person? Well, I think we would have gotten thrown out for having one too many Squee moments. ;)

      Thank you for the compliment about my writing too. Coming from one of the smartest women that I know, that is extra special, merci.

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  7. This must have been such a pleasure to see.

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    1. G, it was lovely and so peaceful in there...

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  8. Heather I wish I could have attended this stunning, so glorious exhibit! I am sure that hours would have been wiled away in pleasure of such art! Thank you!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. Karena, I had to practically jog through it but I could have spent all afternoon there!

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  9. Exquisite photos! I will have to visit this museum next time I'm in Paris.

    -Jessica

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  10. oh my goodness. I must bookmark this for the future!!!

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    1. Wait until you see the gowns in the second series! They could be your costumes!!!

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  11. Oh my goodness, Heather. I'm so sad that we missed this. Amazing. Like you, I prefer the small museums of Paris. I devour at least one like a petit bon bon on every Paris trip, but have yet to visit the Cognacq-Jay. I would have loved to have caught this. Next best thing is seeing your take on it, though. Thank you! XOXO

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