From Paris to Marseille, 15 enticing (and free) exhibitions

Galleries are also making their comeback! Modern vanities, everyday heroes, exploration of immodest, poetic, or deconstructed bodies, contemporary ceramics, research on the notion of identity… “Connaissance des Arts” has selected 15 must-see exhibitions for you in the vast panorama of these free exhibitions. From Paris to Marseille, they are the perfect opportunity to indulge in art without spending a penny! However, be aware that time is running out as some of them are only open for a few more days.

  1. The Inner World of Geer Van Velde

Of the two brothers, Geer and Bram van Velde, Dutch artists of the 20th century, Geer is probably the lesser-known one. While there are undoubtedly points of convergence and similarity in their respective works, the resemblance quickly fades when closely examining their oeuvres. Geer Van Velde (1898-1977) exudes a meditative precision, a uniqueness in perception. He paints the world, but above all, it is his inner world that takes precedence. His studio is composed of simple and unpretentious compositions. His palette is monastically sober, discreet, and subtle, with variations of gray, mauve, and bluish tones, but sometimes also vibrant colors. He is a painter of refined and delicate abstraction that describes his surroundings with precision and sensitivity. This exhibition cleverly juxtaposes a corpus of six oil paintings on canvas (ranging from €30,000 to €180,000) with a collection of about twenty more accessible works on paper (ranging from €8,000 to €15,000). This back and forth between the interior and exterior, with a meticulously crafted mode of expression, makes his work particularly captivating once it has been tamed.

“Geer Van Velde. Works of Meditation,” Galerie de la Présidence, Paris, from September 20 to October 30.

Geer van VELDE, Composition, 1958, gouache, 22 x 21 cm. ©Galerie de la présidence, Paris.

Geer van Velde, Composition, 1958, gouache, 22 x 21 cm. © Galerie de la présidence, Paris.

  1. The Modern Vanities of François Bard

This solo show by François Bard is a true event, for several reasons. First and foremost, for the aficionados of his powerful and sensitive work, it is a highly anticipated return to the art scene, as his last exhibition in France dates back to 2017. What could be better for the inaugural event of Olivier Waltman’s brand-new space in Le Marais, a 160-square-meter venue that will showcase François Bard’s recent works? Under the enigmatic title “Dans l’ombre de l’autre” (In the Shadow of the Other), this new collection of twelve oil paintings on canvas and paper (ranging from €4,000 to €45,000) invites us to question the place of humanity in the world and its destiny, through these off-centered portraits filled with mystery, featuring cinematic framing and a staging reminiscent of grand painting. “I work around the theme of vanity, which, for me, emphasizes a form of imperfection[…]: the representation of princes, kings, power, and won battles… There is also religious vanity with all these saints meditating in front of skulls, questioning the afterlife, the true vanities, after all.”

“François Bard. Dans l’ombre de l’autre,” Galerie Olivier Waltman, Paris, from September 18 to October 16.

François Bard, Le Visiteur (in progress), 2021, huile sur papier, 195 x 150 cm ©Galerie Olivier Waltman, Paris

François Bard, Le Visiteur (in progress), 2021, oil on paper, 195 x 150 cm. © Galerie Olivier Waltman, Paris

  1. The Everyday Heroes of Fred Kleinberg

In 2004, Fred Kleinberg was in residence in India at the time of the Tsunami. As a direct witness to the event, among other works, he created an eighteen-meter-long paper mural (available for €50,000) in which bodies, debris, and rubble intertwine. Not wanting to leave, he became involved with an NGO. He also spent several years in refugee camps to create his series “Odyssée.” This “on the spot” work extended to his studio, where his expressionist style could suggest a certain anger. However, the artist emphasizes the relevance with the climate emergency and a pop heritage in his use of colors. “Certain situations demand an urgency that does not bother with technique,” he explains. Fred Kleinberg aims to show what is not seen on the news, such as the contemplation of refugees during attacks, and also pays tribute to characters who constitute his everyday heroes.

“Fred Kleinberg. Les Années Indiennes 2000-2010,” Loo & Lou Gallery, Paris, from September 21 to October 30.

  1. Mickalene Thomas, a Powerful Woman

Nathalie Obadia has represented this artist since 2014 and can be proud of having acquired her work for numerous French collectors. Especially since prices have skyrocketed in the past year, like those of many African-American artists working in figurative painting. “But Mickalene Thomas was at the forefront of this reappropriation movement and carried a legitimate claim as a female artist in a patriarchal society,” says the gallerist. “And she is completely perfectionist, every piece that comes out of her studio is perfect.” Organized in collaboration with Lévy-Gorvy, her parent gallery now based in Paris, the exhibition features a new series of large collages (ranging from €150,000 to €300,000), with buyers already on the waiting list…

“Mickalene Thomas,” Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, from October 7 to December 18.

Mickalene Thomas, Jet Blue #25, 2021, technique mixte sur carton monté sur Dibond, 214 x 155 cm ©Courtesy de l'artiste

Mickalene Thomas, Jet Blue #25, 2021, mixed media on cardboard mounted on Dibond, 214 x 155 cm. © Courtesy of the artist

  1. Sylvie Selig, a Secret Artist

According to Michel Scognamillo from the Métamorphoses gallery, Sylvie Selig, born in 1941, is not an artist who has suffered from being forgotten but rather “a secret artist.” Well known in Parisian literary circles, she has been seduced by a show that comes with an artist’s book and an exhibition catalog presenting two-thirds of additional works. Drawings, embroideries, or paintings (ranging from €2,000 to €15,000) depict a surreal and dreamlike universe, combining humans, animals, mythologies, and tragedies…

“Inside-out Fairy Tales. Les fables cruelles de Sylvie Selig,” Librairie-Galerie Métamorphoses, Paris, from September 28 to October 31.

Sylvie Selig, Wait! Don't leave yet: so many things remain undreamt, 2020, feutre sur toile, 141 x 123 cm, détail ©S. Selig/Galerie Métamorphoses, Paris

Sylvie Selig, Wait! Don’t leave yet: so many things remain undreamt, 2020, felt on canvas, 141 x 123 cm, detail. © S. Selig/Galerie Métamorphoses, Paris

  1. The Intimate Encounters of Elsa Sahal

With this quirky and ironic title, “Hommage à Jambes Arp,” Elsa Sahal’s new series of about ten pieces (starting at €7,000) continues her exploration of the deconstructed body, both unsettling and surprising. Varied in size, these unexpected and organic sculptures present unique forms, enhanced by finishes in matte or glossy black, or bright colors, varying based on the high or low firing temperatures of the ceramics. In this series, Elsa Sahal continues the work initiated with her Arperies series, employing “biomorphic forms” and engaging in a playful spirit. The inclusion of red balls, reminiscent of clown noses, serves as a playful nod, evoking a sense of pleasure and intimacy. “These pieces are like an intimate encounter, a pleasure. They aim to evoke the body without representing it, sometimes with allusions to the sensuality and violence of sexual relationships, resembling the pokes of a matador.”

“Elsa Sahal. Hommage à Jambes Arp,” Galerie Marion Papillon, Paris, from October 9 to November 20, 2021.

Elsa Sahal, Détails nouvelles oeuvres, 2021. ©Courtesy de l’artiste et Galerie Papillon

Elsa Sahal, Détails nouvelles oeuvres, 2021. © Courtesy de l’artiste et Galerie Papillon

  1. Henry de Groux, a Great Figure of Symbolism

From Paris to Brussels, three galleries simultaneously offer a vast rediscovery of a colorful Belgian fin de siècle artist, both in his life and work: Henry de Groux (1866-1930). Close to Léon Bloy and Apollinaire, he was considered one of the most innovative painters of Symbolism. This trilogy presents a broad panorama of his work, featuring around twenty paintings, sculptures, and pastels from a private collection, ranging in price from a few thousand euros for a drawing to €50,000 for major pieces. Included in the exhibition are his “Personal Pantheon,” emblematic portraits of personalities he admired, as well as his major masterpieces such as the second version of his Christ aux outrages (1893), La Bataille d’Austerlitz, and Les Captifs.

“Henry de Groux,” Galerie Mathieu Néouze, Paris, Galerie Trébosc-Van Lelyveld, Paris, and Thomas Deprez Fine Arts, Brussels, from September 23 to October 15.

Henry de Groux, Le Christ aux outrages (deuxième version), 1893, huile sur toile, 71 x 85 cm, détail ©Galerie Trébosc-Van Lelyveld, Paris

Henry de Groux, The Christ Mocked (second version), 1893, oil on canvas, 71 x 85 cm, detail ©Galerie Trébosc-Van Lelyveld, Paris

  1. Alina Szapocznikow and Photography

Strange and captivating, the work of Alina Szapocznikow continues to intrigue us. This fourth exhibition at the Loevenbruck gallery highlights the role of photography in her artistic approach, whether through the integration of photographs into her works or the use of photography to immortalize and enhance her creations. The exhibition features eight sculptures and eleven archival documents (ranging from €80,000 to over €500,000), bringing together seven thousand photographs…

“Alina Szapocznikow. Sculptures, Photos, and Photo-Sculptures,” Loevenbruck Gallery, Paris, from September 17th to October 16th.

Alina Szapocznikow, Woltyžerka I (Gymnaste à cheval I), 1959, plomb, H. 14 cm ©The estate of Alina Szapocznikow/F. Gousset/Courtesy galerie Loevenbruck, Paris.

Alina Szapocznikow, Woltyžerka I (Gymnast on Horse I), 1959, lead, H. 14 cm ©The estate of Alina Szapocznikow/F. Gousset/Courtesy of galerie Loevenbruck, Paris.

  1. Topor, Pushing the Boundaries of Art

A refreshing rediscovery of the work of Topor is offered by the new gallery Loeve & Co, led by Stéphane Corréard and Hervé Loevenbrück. An eclectic and frenetic draftsman, intentionally cultivating the “art of going too far,” Roland Topor (1938-1997) became known for his iconic images (such as the “broken face” with a hammer for Amnesty International’s campaign in support of prisoners of conscience), drawings for “Hara-Kiri,” and posters for famous films. Between excess, nightmare visions, cynicism, and provocation, Topor confronts the viewer with disturbing images. The exhibition presents around twenty major works that represent the artist’s entire graphic career, ranging from €2,000 for drawings to €20,000 for “historic” paintings. This display also proposes a more comprehensive reevaluation of Topor’s work, a meeting point between surrealism, Pataphysics, and offbeat humor.

“Roland Topor Unseen,” galerie Loeve & Co, Paris, from September 16th to October 30th.

Roland Topor, Le Clown Tant Pis, huile et encre sur toile, 1974, 61 x 50 cm, détail ©F. Gousset/Loeve&Co, Paris

Roland Topor, Le Clown Tant Pis, oil and ink on canvas, 1974, 61 x 50 cm, detail ©F. Gousset/Loeve&Co, Paris

  1. Roger Godchaux, the Animal Kingdom

A double treat at Xavier Eeckhout’s, with the first exhibition of Roger Godchaux in a gallery and the publication of the artist’s catalogue raisonné, co-signed with Jean-François Dunand. As an animal sculptor of the 1930s, Roger Godchaux created a bestiary in a naturalistic style, on the fringes of the movement known as “le retour au lisse” (the return to smoothness). This collection of twenty-five works, including terracottas and bronzes ranging from €4,000 to €90,000, showcases the serene power of this talented artist of the 20th century.

“Roger Godchaux. Complete Works,” galerie Xavier Eeckhout, Paris, from September 17th to October 16th.

Roger Godchaux, Lionne se tournant, v. 1925, bronze, fonte, Susse 1930 ©Galerie Xavier Eeckhout, Paris

Roger Godchaux, Lionne se tournant, ca. 1925, bronze, cast by Susse in 1930 ©Galerie Xavier Eeckhout, Paris

  1. Christophe Dupety, the Essence of the Other

Painter Christophe Dupety delivers a profound exploration of the perception of the other in his exhibition at galerie Nicolas Deman. Titled “Alias,” he delves into the contemporary notion of identity through recent portraits of anonymous individuals, drawn from his imagination or memory. Created in a free, almost automatic style, these portraits are “attempts at capturing” or “visual flashes” of people encountered on the street, glimpsed in a magazine, or seen in dreams.

“Christophe Dupety, Alias,” galerie Nicolas Deman, Paris, from September 27th to October 9th.

Christophe Dupety, L'Italien, 2021, Huile sur toile, 27 x 22 cm. ©Galerie Nicolas Deman, Paris

Christophe Dupety, L’Italien, 2021, Oil on canvas, 27 x 22 cm. ©Galerie Nicolas Deman, Paris

  1. Claudine Drai and Claude de Soria, Dialogue of Souls

In its new exhibition space near Montparnasse – a redesigned former artist’s studio opened in 2020 – Clavé Fine Art unveils the second part of the “Dialogue of Souls” between two women artists. Through a confrontation that highlights their complementarity in light and shadow, we discover the originality of these two artists’ approaches, who have dedicated their work to specific materials, cement for Claude De Soria and paper for Claudine Drai, with pieces ranging from €5,000 to €80,000.

“Claudine Drai and Claude de Soria, Dialogue of Souls,” galerie Clavé Fine Art, Paris, from September 9th to October 10th.

Claudine Drai, Sans Titre, 2009-2011, collage sur papier monté sur toile, 140 x 130 cm. ©Tous droits réservés

Claudine Drai, Untitled, 2009-2011, collage on paper mounted on canvas, 140 x 130 cm. ©All rights reserved

  1. Traquandi and the World of Ceramics

Throughout the summer, the recent drawings and paintings of Gérard Traquandi (born in 1952) were on display at the Cantini Museum in Marseille. Until the end of autumn, at the Friche de l’Escalette on the route des Goudes, the Marseille artist’s vases and jars, which he has been creating for over fifteen years at the Ravel pottery in Aubagne, are presented. In the ruins of a former lead factory, dealer Éric Touchaleaume sets up Jean Prouvé bungalows and modern and contemporary artworks every year. This time, alongside Adrien Vescovi and Héloïse Bariol, he showcases Traquandi’s glazed ceramic production (ranging from €4,000 to €30,000). Hung on limestone rocks, the manipulated forms evoke the Virgin by Germain Pilon at the Louvre, which the artist particularly admires, or the Crucifixions by Lucio Fontana. A little further on the brick walls, small bas-reliefs pretend to be bacchanalian tendrils. Across from them, Gérard Traquandi has gathered his sculptures of glazed clay on pallets, displaying a creamy white or matte black. They all bear witness to the power of material and a dynamic, nervous gesture.

“Baroque Earth by Gérard Traquandi,” Friche de l’Escalette, Marseille, on weekends until October 31st.

Gérard Traquandi, Terres baroques, 2021, céramique émaillée ©C.Baraja/E.Touchaleaume/ Archives Galerie 54 Friche de l'Escalette, 2021.

Gérard Traquandi, Baroque Earth, 2021, glazed ceramics. ©C.Baraja/E.Touchaleaume/Archives Galerie 54 Friche de l’Escalette, 2021.

  1. Tribute to Baumgarten

Marian Goodman pays homage to Lothar Baumgarten (1944-2018), one of the major German artists of his generation. The most emblematic piece, occupying the entire ground floor of the gallery, reinterprets the elements of the installation that earned him the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1984, America Señores Naturales. Sharing the German Pavilion with A.R. Penck, Baumgarten replaced marble floor tiles with others bearing the inscription “America” and the names of Latin American rivers, thus inscribing the topographic structure of the Amazon Basin onto the Venetian Lagoon and drawing a connection between the Serenissima and the country to which it had given its name, Venezuela. Also on view are the film Origin of the Night (Amazon Cosmos), a slideshow, and photographs (starting at €18,000).

“Lothar Baumgarten, Amazon Cosmos,” Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, from September 1st to October 7th.

Lothar Baumgarten, Eine Reise oder "Mit der MS Remscheid auf dem Amazona" [...], 1968-1971, installation, dim. variables, détail ©L. Bamgarten Studio/M. Goodman Gallery, Paris.

Lothar Baumgarten, A Journey or “Mit der MS Remscheid auf dem Amazona” […], 1968-1971, installation, variable dimensions, detail ©L. Baumgarten Studio/M. Goodman Gallery, Paris.

  1. The Impudent Bodies of Purienne

Known for the dialogue between the old and the contemporary, Chenel Gallery presents the very first exhibition of Purienne, a South African photographer who unveils the impudent and natural body of his muse, capturing its full beauty (prints ranging from €3000 to €10,000). A selection of twenty images from his new book, Tasjaki, accompanies twenty sensual ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, such as a Venus Genitrix, creating a stage for the photographer’s highly poetic aesthetic.

“Purienne,” Chenel Gallery, Paris, from September 24th to October 30th.

Purienne, Untitled, 2021, photographie ©Purienne/Galerie Chenel, Paris

Purienne, Untitled, 2021, photographie ©Purienne/Galerie Chenel, Paris