The must-see exhibitions in France in 2020

Museums in France have lots in store for 2020: from the opening of the Bassins de Lumières and the Franciscaines to a slew of new temporary exhibitions that are really worth seeing. Wander in wonder in Paris, Marseille, Deauville, Caen, Bordeaux, Metz, Lille, Le Havre and Lens.

Must-see exhibitions in Paris

Vinci at the Louvre, Gréco at the Grand Palais, Soulages at the Centre Pompidou, Tissot at the d’Orsay, Charlotte Perriand at the Louis Vuitton Foundation... the list goes on for culture lovers in Paris in 2020.

Find out all the details here.

‘Man Ray and Fashion’ at Château Borély, Marseille

Until March 8, 2020

He revolutionised fashion photography by transforming it into a form of artistic expression in its own right. Man Ray exhibits at the Museum of Decorative Arts, Earthenware and Fashion at Marseille’s Château Borély. Iconic pieces from major fashion houses, dating from the 1920s and 1930s, are featured. Man Ray’s eye captures materials, evolving clothing styles and details in the feminine collections of the great contemporary designers. Thanks to his freedom of tone, Man Ray has collaborated with Vogue and Harper Bazaar which have exalted his vintage photographs and his surrealist range.

‘Voyage, Voyages’ at MuCEM, Marseille

January 22 – May 4, 2020

Travel has always been for artists who inspire, influence and exchange. The ‘Voyage, Voyages’ exhibition offers a journey through 100 works (paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings, photographs, videos) leading us to real and imaginary horizons with Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Gauguin, Kandinsky, Andy Warhol and Richard Baquié. An exhibition that particularly resonates with MuCEM, the museum anchored in front of the Mediterranean which champions the dialogue between different cultures.

‘Soleils Noirs’ (‘Black Suns’) at the Louvre-Lens, Lens

March 25 – July 13, 2020

Black is black. The Louvre-Lens museum, an extension of the Parisian Louvre in Northern France, explores this colour – or non-colour – through painting masterpieces inspired by black as a source of poetry and sensuality. Black is explored as a symbol of infinity, timelessness and beginnings, but also darkness, ignorance and death. From the absence of light to total dazzlement, it’s a must-see!

‘Nuits Electriques’ (‘Electric Nights’) at MuMa, Le Havre

April 4 – September 20, 2020

The Normandy Impressionist Festival offers a wealth of exhibitions and experiences to visitors. Among them, ‘Electric Nights’ at the André Malraux Museum of Modern Art in Le Havre examines the way 19th-century painters treated the evolution of the urban landscape, at a time when urban lighting was appearing. The representations of these new light experiences reveal their concerns at a time of profound transformation between 1850 and 1914, with works by Monet, Pissarro, Steinlen, Bonnard, Van Dongen, Delaunay, Eugène Jansson, Atkinson Grimshaw, Jósef Pankiewicz and Darío de Regoyos.

‘Gustav Klimt: Gold and Colours’ at the Bassins de Lumières, Bordeaux

From April 17, 2020

For their opening in Bordeaux, the Bassins de Lumières will revisit the works of Gustav Klimt thanks to the advanced technologies deployed by Culturespaces, at the heart of the world’s largest digital art centre. Expect a century of Viennese painting and an original look at the painter and his successors through portraits, landscapes, nudes, colours and gilding. Transported right to the heart of the paintings, visitors can admire large-format masterpieces such as the famous ‘Kiss’ and immerse themselves in turn-of-the-century imperial Vienna. Impressive and completely immersive.

‘The Sky as a Workshop: Yves Klein and his contemporaries’ at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz

May 2 – November 2, 2020

The Centre Pompidou in Metz is set to present an exhibition dedicated to Yves Klein (1928-1962), revealing his aesthetic affinities with a multitude of artists. The sky, the air, the universe and the cosmos then represent the intangible workshop conducive to reinventing art and the relationship of man with the world in the post-war period. New plastic developments ventured in particular towards monochrome, with the creation of the famous Klein blue. In the context of space conquest and nuclear weapons, this generation of artists shared a new idealism around freedom, and made heaven an intangible and spiritual shield. Dive into the blue…

‘Pharaons Superstars’ at MuCEM, Marseille

April 29 – August 17, 2020

You may have heard of Cheops, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, Tutankhamun and Ramses – but who today remembers Teti, Sesostris or Nectanebo? This exhibition explores how some ancient Egyptian kings and queens have become international icons today, while others, who had their heyday in antiquity, have almost fallen into oblivion. It’s a journey back over 5,000 years with 300 items from the MuCEM as well as large French and European collections (including some from the Louvre), which delve into the exploits and posthumous notoriety of the pharaohs.

‘Regatta in the Colours of Daniel Buren’ at the Franciscaines, Deauville

July 18 – September 20, 2020

Among the first exhibitions at the Franciscaines, the new cultural space in Deauville (Normandy), ‘Régate de couleurs by Daniel Buren, Voile/Toile - Toile/Voile’, is both conceptual, performance-led, experiential and a work of art. It’s part of the multidisciplinary vision of the Franciscaines. The event takes place in two stages: a regatta of the nine small boats painted by Daniel Buren, led by young sailors, will take place on Saturday, July 18. Depending on the order of arrival, the sails/canvases will be transported to the Franciscaines cloister to be displayed. In mid-July, highlights will take place in the presence of the artist, intended for all audiences. An event organised as part of the Normandy Impressionnist Festival.

Le Louvre de Picasso’ at the Louvre-Lens, Lens

September 23, 2020 – January 25, 2021

You have to understand the Louvre to understand the work of Pablo Picasso, who lived from 1881 to 1973. The museum is a fundamental place for the artist, from his first visit in 1900 to the exhibition of his own works in the Grande Galerie in 1971; it occupied a special place in the artist’s imagination and was involved in his very conception of art. This exhibition is a dialogue between Picasso’s work and the Louvre collections, organised in collaboration with the Musée National Picasso-Paris, displaying large-scale works alongside archive documents.

‘Gérard Fromanger: Annoncer La Couleur’ (‘Advertise Colour’) at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Caen

May 16 – September 20, 2020

This is one of the many events organised as part of the Normandy Impressionist Festival, devoted not only to Impressionism, but also to its influences on artistic trends until today. The exhibition presents the works of one of the greatest representatives of the narrative figuration movement, who is also very attached to Normandy. Through 60 works produced from 1966 to 2018, Caen’s Fine Arts Museum will present the extent to which this passionate street artist developed an innovative art, away from the formalist style.

‘La Manufacture: A Labour of Love’ at the Gare Saint-Sauveur, Lille

September 8 – November 8, 2020

As part of Lille’s World Capital of Design 2020 season, this exhibition – curated by Lidewij Edelkoort, a highly-regarded trend forecaster – explores the experiments of a new generation of designers who want to break away from a superfluous conception of industrial design. It’s now a question of reconciling the hand and the machine to produce amazing objects and materials, creating a new future for craft.

‘Chagall: Le Passer de Lumière’ at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz

October 17, 2020 – February 15, 2021

This exhibition will examine the importance of light and stained glass in Chagall’s work. The stained glass models produced for many buildings in eastern France (Metz, Reims, Sarrebourg), neighbouring Germany (Mainz) and internationally (Israel, the US, England and Switzerland) will be brought together for the first time. Alongside them will be a large collection of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and drawings from the collections of the Pompidou Centre, the Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice, other international museums and private collections.

‘Colours, etc’ at the Tripostal, Lille

October 9, 2020 – January 3, 2021

Another show as part of Lille’s cultural season, ‘Colours, etc’ is designed as a walk through the seven main colours and the universe of pigments used by painters and craftsmen from the Middle Ages. Contemporary designers and artists are invited to present a project or create a work on the theme of colour and the senses, creating an immersive experience for visitors. An exhibition co-produced by Lille3000 and the Ghent Design Museum.

Manifesta 13, Marseille

June 7 – November 1, 2020

For its 13th year, Manifesta will be held in France for the very first time, taking over in Marseille in the form of a multidisciplinary cultural season with artists from all walks of life. Manifesta 13 Marseille will involve a varied programme of exhibitions, performances, meetings with artists, readings and interventions, organised in three sections: ‘Traits d’Union.s’ which considers new forms of ‘being together’; ‘Tiers Programs’, a series of interdependent projects created between educational and artistic circles; and ‘Parallèles du Sud’, a programme of cultural events in Marseille and across the region (e.g. at the Mamac in Nice, and at Frac Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur). The event headquarters is at Espace Manifesta 13, on Marseille’s La Canebière.

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