From the Petit Palais in Paris to the splendor of Villa Borghese in Rome, discover 4 contemporary art exhibitions that dispel the autumn blues…

Contemporary art exhibitions for autumn in France

Thirty candles for the Printemps de septembre in Toulouse. Following his passing in June, painter Gérard Fromanger illuminates the Printemps de septembre with a gigantic 9-meter-long canvas. His powerful artwork, reminiscent of a contemporary Guernica, reflects upon the upheavals of the world. It is one of the standout works featured in this year’s edition of the festival, which celebrates its 30th anniversary. The festival invites around fifty artists to exhibit their works across 28 venues in the city and its surroundings. The lineup for this edition is prestigious, featuring names such as Walid Raad, Miriam Cahn, Natacha Lesueur, Katinka Bock… The Printemps de septembre runs until October 17th. Visit printempsdeseptembre.com for more information.

Gérard Fromanger, De toutes les couelurs, peinture d’Histoire, 1991/1992 FNAC 02-663 Centre national des arts plastiques. 

Gérard Fromanger, Of All Colors, History Painting, 1991/1992 FNAC 02-663 National Center for Visual Arts. Gérard Fromanger / CNAP

Othoniel Reaching for the Stars, Paris. Master of colors and ever-changing reflections, Jean-Michel Othoniel transforms the Petit Palais into a palace of wonders. The journey begins in the grand staircase of the museum, which has been transformed into a river of a thousand blue bricks that shimmer day and night. In the circular garden, amidst cherry trees and potted palm trees, Japanese banana plants, pink, mauve, and white bear’s breeches, the artist has scattered around twenty new sculptures: black and gold lotus flowers whose brilliance evokes Pharaoh masks, mirrored artworks, golden necklaces hung from the branches of oriental trees, giant pearls nestled in the niches of the peristyle, colored bricks arranged like a polyphony of precious small wall panels… Jean-Michel Othoniel, who will join the Academy of Fine Arts in October, leads us to the borders of dreams. The Theorem of Narcissus, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Petit Palais, until January 2nd. Visit petitpalais.paris.fr for more information.

Contemporary art exhibitions for autumn in Bilbao and Rome

Alice’s World, Bilbao. Alice Neel (1900-1984) is one of those 20th-century women artists whose work has been reevaluated in the past decade, when the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Whitechapel Gallery in London dedicated a retrospective to her in 2010. This time, her fame crosses the Atlantic with this major exhibition of her paintings, drawings, and watercolors in Bilbao, revealing the contemporary relevance of her deeply feminist and socially engaged oeuvre. Alice Neel was particularly interested in individuals marginalized by American society, ostracized due to their sexual orientation or social class. She often stated that she had spent her entire life “trying to assert the dignity and eternal importance of the human being,” and she lived up to her words with her artworks, especially her portraits of pregnant women or victims of domestic violence, which possess great emotional intensity. One does not emerge unscathed from such an exhibition. Alice Neel: People Come First, Guggenheim Museum, until February 6th. Visit guggenheim-bilbao.eus for more information.

Self-Portrait, 1980. 

Self-Portrait, 1980. Alice Neel

Flamboyant Hirst, Rome. We remember the astonishing exhibition reminiscent of a cabinet of curiosities that Damien Hirst presented in 2017 at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. Now, in Rome, his eclectic pantheon of real-fake ancient sculptures, supposedly submerged after a shipwreck, enters into a dialogue with the extraordinary collection of the Borghese Gallery. Created in marble, bronze, coral, rock crystal, and semi-precious stones, Damien Hirst’s “wonders” complement and extend the museum’s mannerist masterpieces, naturally fitting into the exuberant decor of the Villa Borghese, adorned with marble, stucco, and mosaics. To complete the panorama of his lush art, Damien Hirst also disperses his Colour Space paintings throughout the rooms. These paintings are covered in overlapping and jostling dots, creating an eruption of colors, like particles under a microscope. Damien Hirst, Borghese Gallery, until November 7th. Visit galleriaborghese.beniculturali.it for more information.