Paris’s Can’t-Miss Spring Art Exhibits

Paris’s vibrant art scene is in full flower this spring with major museum shows, superb smaller exhibitions, and some stellar photography exhibits devoted to the work of French artists and the city of Paris. The sampling below offers a selection of exemplary shows featuring painting, drawing, photography, and music.


Degas and the Nude

Musée d’Orsay, through July 1

Following the blockbuster exhibits Claude Monet and Edouard Manet, in the Musée d’Orsay‘s great masters series, this major exhibition—the first in Paris devoted to Degas since 1988—follows the artist’s distinctive and sublime portrayal of the nude in the medias of sculpture, engraving, drawing, painting, and pastel.


Matisse Pairs and Series

Centre Pompidou, through June 18

A selection of masterworks at Centre Pompidou marks the artist’s exploration of painting via the repetition of a theme. Sixty paintings and 30 drawings, created between 1899 and 1952, illuminate the repetitions, rhythms, and relationships of his oeuvre and span the artist’s long and varied career.


Eugène Atget

Musée Carnavalet (Museum of the City of Paris), through July 29

Celebrating one of Paris’s most important chroniclers of Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Musée Carnavalet’s retrospective reunites 230 photos of the city from three important collections in Paris, Madrid, and the U.S. for the first time. Well-known images alongside rarely seen photos made between 1898 and 1927, include portraits, gardens, quays of the Seine, old storefronts, and the traditional French metiers.


Doisneau, Paris Les Halles

Hotel de Ville (City Hall of Paris), through April 28

Paris native son Robert Doisneau famously documented the teeming life of the colorful Les Halles market over forty years, providing an aesthetic and sociological portrait of a vibrant Paris neighborhood. Covering the years to 1933 to the market’s dismantling in the 60s, Hotel de Ville is exhibiting 150 photos that constitute an invaluable photographic record of a tragic disappearance.


Helmut Newton

Grand Palais, through June 17

This exhibit marks the first retrospective in France of the famously provocative German-born photographer, who frequently lived and worked in Paris. A choice selection of 200 original and vintage prints are on display at the Grand Palais spanning the years 1920-2004, including the portraits, fashion shots, and nudes that are considered 20th-century icons.


Paris in Song

Bibliotheque de la Ville de Paris, through July 29

Bibliotheque de la Ville de Paris’ interactive exhibit places 400 Paris-themed songs by the great French stars—including Juliette Greco, Maurice Chevalier, Yves Montand, and Georges Brassens—in their Paris neighborhoods. Photos, album covers, posters, film clips, and videos comprise a tribute to love, Paris, and the love of Paris through song. The songs in the show and their locales can be previewed on the library’s fantastic site.


Debussy: Music and the Arts

Musée de l’Orangerie, through June 11

The great and influential turn-of-the-20th-century composer drew inspiration from the works of his time, including the avant-garde poetry and paintings of close friends. Works by Degas, Renoir, Vuillard, Gauguin, Claudel, Redon, Bonnard, and the manuscripts of Gide, Louÿs, Valéry, and others evoke an important artistic moment that deeply affected the composer and his work on display at the Musée de l’Orangerie. The event includes an extraordinary series of concerts, films, lectures and ateliers for kids ages 8-12.

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Photo Credits: Musée d’Orsay: Courtesy of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Centre Pompidou: Pompidou by Juan Pablo Colasso
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License; Eugene Atget at the Musée Carnavalet: © Emmanuel Pottier / Musée Carnavalet; Doisneau at the Hôtel de Ville: © Mairie de Paris/Deborah Lesage; Grand Palais: © Collection Grand Palais / François Tomasi; Paris in Song: © Mairie de Paris; Musée de l’Orangerie: Musée de l’Orangerie by
Attribution-NonCommercial License