By Michel Laclotte
Art historian, curator, and museum director Michel Laclotte has been on the vanguard of French cultural existence over the last part century. This casual autobiography sheds gentle on his extraordinary profession with heat and directness. Highlights contain two decades as leader curator of portray and sculpture on the Musée du Louvre, heading the staff that created the Musée dOrsay, and taking the reins of the Louvre to guide the hassle that culminated within the museums transformation into the “Grand Louvre,” one of many worlds preeminent cultural attractions.
Raising the curtain on fifty years of Western paintings scholarship, intrigue, and fulfillment, Laclotte introduces a unprecedented solid of characters who set Frances cultural course within the postwar interval from Charles de Gaulle and André Malraux within the Fifties to François Mitterand within the Eighties and Nineties. His tale overlaps with nearly each significant scholarly determine in French paintings historical past of the final half-century, in addition to Laclottes mentors and associates all through and past Europe, from Roberto Longhi and Anthony Blunt to Sir John Pope-Hennessy and Millard Meiss. An incomparable testomony to a interval of seismic swap within the museum international, this quantity should be crucial interpreting for artwork global afficianados and all scholars of paintings and glossy culture.
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Extra info for A Key to the Louvre
At Maeght, I saw with jubilation the Surrealist exhibition of 1947, entering under curtains of rain, the tennis players sitting on pool tables . . In a tiny room, Langlois sometimes projected real oddities, such as prints of American films subtitled in Danish, or Russian films in English. It was there that I discovered Dreyer, Eisenstein, German Expressionist cinema, Murnau’s Sunrise, with its incredible tracking shot, Flaherty, von Stroheim, and many others. As of 1947, when I started at Lycée Henri IV, my friends and I went to the movies sometimes twice a day, especially to the Champollion.
This need to index every painting I’ve ever seen, to inventory others I found in every book I could lay my hands on? To itemize all the Rembrandts or Fragonards in French collections? No doubt an adolescent passion for classification. And alongside this went a profound interest in the national patrimony. The result of my family’s traditional patriotism? Perhaps. From my first serious readings in art history, before my studies made them more systematic, I’ve retained a keen memory of Henri Focillon’s The Life of Forms and Salomon Reinach’s Apollo—an admirable little pocket guide, the equivalent of which I would love to find today—as well as of several “coffee table” books.
As for exhibitions, after the Liberation I passionately followed everything that was happening in museums, the progressive reopening of their galleries, new acquisitions, shows —I absorbed it all like a sponge. In particular, there were exhibitions at the Orangerie, either major loan shows or scholarly exhibitions based on original research—such as The Golden Age of Toulouse Painting in 1946 or Philippe de Champaigne in 1952—and at the Petit Palais, where the director, André Chamson, put great emphasis on display.