Since June 9, 2022, the Biennale des Arts de Nice has devoted 11 exhibitions to the theme of Flowers. In this context, the Jules Chéret Museum of Fine Arts presents the theme: "Flowers of Artifice",
In an exclusive interview with Fabrice Roy, Johanne Lindskog, Director of the Museum speaks passionately about this unique place and this temporary exhibition that can be admired there until October 30th.
- Johanne Lindskog, tell us about your background.
- My vocation as a curator was quite early. I put my studies at the service of this ambition to access a position in a museum institution. This is how, at the age of 26, I joined the Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice as a curator.
I stayed there for 4 years and then I was recruited by the city of Nice to be director of the Musée des Beaux Arts Jules Chéret. For three years, I have kept a collection of more than 10,000 works covering 6 centuries of art history.
Since my arrival at the Museum, I have immersed myself in the study of this collection, most of which concerns works from the 19th century. What touched me the most was the global approach of the artists of that time, in which we looked beyond painting for other forms of expression such as music or literature.
- How was the Jules Chéret Museum of Fine Arts born?
- The Jules Chéret Museum of Fine Arts is the oldest art museum in Nice. It was created in 1872, shortly after the annexation of Nice to France. After having been located at the Library of Nice, then in a gallery on boulevard Dubouchage, it will then be moved to rue Notre-Dame at the Palais Bréa which still exists.
It was not until January 7, 1928 that it was inaugurated in its current premises, the villa of the Ukrainian princess Elisabeth Kotchoubey, acquired by the City of Nice in 1925.
- Gustave Adolphe Mossa is a figure of this institution!
- Gustave Adolphe Mossa was a very important artist for the Museum, since he was its curator for 45 years, from 1926 until his death in 1971. He previously conducted a dazzling career as a Symbolist artist and between 1901 and 1918, he created a series of fascinating works, including one that depicts Lucifer and was part of an altarpiece on the subject of the 7 deadly sins. He hijacks religious symbols in a sulphurous way, like this aureole of holiness which is behind the face of the devil. This one also has a cyclamen in his hair and is kissing the snake of original sin.
- The Museum's collections contain real treasures.
- The major pieces entered by donation, like the Christ on the cross which arrived in the collection in 1879 and was attributed to Fra Bartolomeo for a long time. It was in 2005 that the specialist in Florentine Mannerism Philippe Costamagna discovered that it was the famous crucifixion mentioned by Vasari in his collection entitled Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori (1560-1570). This Christ, painted by Agnolo di Cosimo, known as the Bronzino, seems dozing rather than deceased, in a rendering of great delicacy which suggests that he still has a breath of life.
- "Fleurs d'artifice": a multifaceted exhibition?
- A stakeholder in the Flowers 2022 biennial, the Museum of Fine Arts offers an exhibition mainly from its collections and with an extremely educational approach. We wondered in particular why, since the Middle Age, artists have integrated floral motifs in their works, why, in the 17th century, it becomes a subject in its own right with real portraits of flowers, and why these will be in the 20th century the pretext for the most extreme art, abstract art.
We thus propose a succession of routes within chronological and thematic rooms, in which we also present "Focus Flowers" - each room being devoted to a flower which is commented on in its iconography and its symbolism.
We also worked with florists who created floral compositions presented during the opening.
There are therefore several levels of reading which have also enabled us to carry out a restoration campaign on numerous works, and to present some of them. Thus, the painting by Julie de Cistello, painter of Brazilian origin, "Tea in the countryside" where the flower serves as a structuring colored composition for the rest of the painting.
For this exhibition, alongside works from our collection, we have had some exceptional loans such as an 18th century Mogol miniature which presents a miniaturistic poppy, a flower that was grown to make opium. We are in a non-narrative, decorative dimension, but also in the evocation of the economic wealth of the Mogol empire.
- This exhibition was also an opportunity to highlight many women artists.
- We highlighted many women artists from the collection, such as Louise Breslau, Blanche Augustine Camus or Marie Bashkirtseff by showing how they approached this subject, either in a classic way or in a much more daring way, breaking with the conventions of the time.
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In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...