Download PDF by Michel Laclotte: A Key to the Louvre

By Michel Laclotte

An paintings international insider offers a witty and penetrating account of 50 years on the middle of overseas culture.

Art historian, curator, and museum director Michel Laclotte has been on the leading edge of French cultural existence during the last part century. This casual autobiography sheds gentle on his outstanding occupation with heat and directness. Highlights contain two decades as leader curator of portray and sculpture on the Musée du Louvre, heading the group that created the Musée dOrsay, and taking the reins of the Louvre to steer 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 path within the postwar interval from Charles de Gaulle and André Malraux within the Fifties to François Mitterand within the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties. His tale overlaps with nearly each significant scholarly determine in French paintings background 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 switch within the museum global, this quantity can be crucial studying for paintings global afficianados and all scholars of artwork and smooth culture.

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The following anecdote illustrates rather humorously what people already thought of Huyghe before the war. As the executor of Jean Vergnet-Ruiz’s estate, I’m in possession of part of his diary. In it, he recounts that in September 1939, the museum board faced the problem not only of evacuating works of art, but also of mobilizing for war. He himself was mobilized as a military doctor; Sterling went into the army, and so on. ”* Another important art historian, Pierre Francastel, taught at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes.

Huyghe excelled at those kinds of association. Very early on, then, I had the sense that there was no difference between old and modern painting. Huyghe was also behind the creation of the Impressionist museum at the Jeu de Paume; I remember its opening in 1947, the way the light from its windows shimmered on these “modern” paintings. It was also in 1947 that the Musée National d’Art Moderne (MNAM) opened its doors with Jean Cassou as director. Visits there soon became de rigueur, and Jean Coural and I went every Sunday morning.

In any case, my appetite was boundless! Once I began taking an interest in Italian painting, gilded backgrounds, Piero della Francesca, and Bellini, my admiration and readings tended toward Berenson, Roberto Longhi and his first pupils, Richard Offner, and, further back in time, Cavalcaselle, Raimond Van Marle, Adolfo Venturi, and Pietro Toesca. They tended, in other words, toward art history based on the study of a given artist’s style with an eye to discovering and defining his particular manner of conceiving and painting a subject, analyzing what differentiated him from other artists, grouping artists from the same family into studios and schools—in short, adhering to notions of invention, influence, rupture, or tradition in a particular historical and geographical context.

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A Key to the Louvre by Michel Laclotte

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