Back to Africa: Cubism at the Pompidou

pompidou maskAmong the more than 300 works on view through February 25 at the Centre Pompidou for its exhibition Cubism is, above, “Masque krou,” Côte d’Ivoire, undated and uncredited. Painted wood, metal, and cork. 25.5 x 16.5 x 18.3 cm. Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon, Lyon. © Lyon MBA – Photo Alain Basset.

Lutèce Diary, 6: What’s wrong with this picture? At the Pompidou, it’s a man’s, man’s world, baby

Cezanne Vollard.jpgAmong the 300+ oeuvres featured in the exhibition “Cubisme,” running at the Centre Pompidou in Paris through February 25 is, above, Paul Cézanne, “Portrait of Ambroise Vollard,” 1899. Oil on canvas, 101 x 81 cm. Petit Palais, Musee des beaux-arts de la Ville de Paris, Paris. Copyright Petit Palais/Roger-Viollet.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2019 Paul Ben-Itzak

(Like what you’re reading? Please let us know by making a donation today. Just designate your payment through PayPal to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to donate by check. No amount is too small.  Don’t miss  out on our upcoming coverage from Paris and Lyon of art, theater, film, puppets, and dance from around the world! Drop a line to artsvoyager@gmail.com with the words “Flash Me, Dance Insider & Arts Voyager” and we’ll add you to our list.)

PARIS — It won’t come as any surprise to many of you that, curation-wise, the Centre Pompidou — or Beaubourg, as the locals call it — is one sexist institution. But the mammoth advertising poster — in English, with no apparent translation large enough to read — that confronted me on the Boulevard St.-Germain the other night as I was finishing up a gallery run was an open invitation for a Gorilla Girls reunion or for Oksana Shachko to come back to life and make up with the rest of the Femen for one last unified demonstration. Under the cheeky proclamation “Without the Centre Pompidou, Paris wouldn’t be Paris,” was a list of some of the artists without whom the Centre Pompidou presumably wouldn’t be the Centre Pompidou:

“Joan Miro, Vassily Kandinsky, Robert Delaunay, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, and many others.”

Now, if you’ve been to the Pompidou, you might opine that, male-female artist proportion-wise, this is just truth in advertising. I have, and even without getting into all the other worthy women included and excluded (notably Leonor Fini) from the national modern art museum, from the names on the list itself one name stands out as being ignobly left out: Robert’s wife, Sonia Delaunay, by far the more interesting and versatile artist, the mother of spontaneous color and, with Blaise Cendrars, co-author of “La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France,” at least one copy of which seems to be in the collection of the Pompidou (another is apparently in the collection of my alma mater’s art museum), whose Sonia holdings are a lot more interesting than its Robert holdings. If Sonia — or any other female artist — is featured in the museum’s Cubisme exhibition running through February 25, it’s not evident in the press kit, among which *none* of the available images (including Cezanne’s portrait of the seminal art dealer Ambroise Vollard, featured above) were of work by female artists.

My immediate instinct on seeing the lack of ANY female artist’s name, underlined by the glaring omission of Sonia Delaunay while her artistically inferior husband was highlighted, was to want to write, “The Pompidou is having its Me-Too moment.” My more considered reflection was “Rien a voir. Me-Too designates sexual harassment or aggression, and what the Pompidou’s guilty of here, curating-wise, is sexist discrimination.” And my more informed conclusion is that the twin bases for sexual harassment are the proclivity of some males for violence and domination and the conviction that women’s only legitimate place is in the bedroom or the kitchen, all of which come from the same source as sexual discrimination: the Phallocracy.

Pompidou expo re-unites Pablo Picasso & Deportée Surrealist Pal Max Jacob

Pompidou Cubism Picasso Jacob

Among the 300 paintings, drawings, and historical documents on view at the Center Pompidou in Paris through February 25 for the exhibition Cubism are, left, Pablo Picasso, “Self-Portrait,” 1907. Oil on canvas, 56 x 46 cm. Narodni Galerie, Prague. Copyright the National Gallery, Prague, 2018. Copyright Succession Picasso 2018. And, right, Pablo Picasso, “Portrait of Max Jacob,” 1907. Gouache on paper, 62.5 x 47.5 cm.  Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Copyright Rheinisches Bildarchiv Koln, Irouschek, Sonja, rba_c010921. Copyright Succession Picasso 2018. That the surrealist poet’s portrait hangs in a German museum is ironic; in February 1944, after none of his artist friends, including Picasso and Cocteau, were able to successfully intervene on his behalf (Cocteau tried, but didn’t talk to the right person; Sasha Guitry promised but did not come through), Jacob was arrested by the Gestapo after being ratted out by neighbors, dying of pneumonia in the Drancy way-camp before he could be deported. On his deathbed, Jacob — who had converted more than three decades earlier and regularly wrote proselytory poems for his friends — asked for a priest. “De vagues réverbères jettent sur la neige la lumière de ma mort.” (From “The Dice Cup.” To read Max Jacob’s poem on Fake News, click here.)

The Big Bang Axiom: Back to the Future with “Inventing Abstraction” at MoMA

abstraction severini for repost

From the Arts Voyager archives: Gino Severini, “Mare = Ballerina (Sea = dancer),” 1913. Tempera and pastel on cardboard, 25 13/16 x 18 ½” (65.5 x 47 cm). Triton Foundation. ©2012 Gino Severini / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo courtesy of the Triton Foundation.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2013, 2018 Paul Ben-Itzak

If you think the world only started getting smaller — and the many worlds of art cross-fertilizing — with the advent of the Internet, you need to get yourself to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. With “Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925,” a pan-media exhibition of 350 paintings, drawings, prints, books, sculptures, photographs, recordings, dances, and more, running through April 15, MoMA returns to its historical and pedagogical roots and, not incidentally, furnishes a much-needed refresher for a 21st century New York art world as evidently rootless as it is profligate, as well as a template for today’s would be multi-media hopscotchers, too often content with dilettante dabbling and dipping into their sister art forms.

(To receive the complete article, first published exclusively on the DI and AV on January 8, 2013, including more images, subscribers please contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the DI for one year for just $36/year by designating your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check.)