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By Michel Laclotte

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

Art historian, curator, and museum director Michel Laclotte has been on the vanguard of French cultural lifestyles over the last part century. This casual autobiography sheds mild on his superb occupation with heat and directness. Highlights comprise 20 years as leader curator of portray and sculpture on the Musée du Louvre, heading the crew 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 artwork scholarship, intrigue, and fulfillment, Laclotte introduces a rare solid of characters who set Frances cultural course within the postwar interval from Charles de Gaulle and André Malraux within the Fifties to François Mitterand within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineteen Nineties. His tale overlaps with almost each significant scholarly determine in French artwork historical past of the final half-century, in addition to Laclottes mentors and co-workers 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 swap within the museum international, this quantity should be crucial examining for paintings global afficianados and all scholars of paintings and smooth culture.

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Extra info for A Key to the Louvre

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If the greatest historians of this type ultimately proposed their own vision of an artist’s work, period, or school, all of them first sought to verify the attributions of the works in question, and when necessary, challenged them, suggested new ones, or situated them elsewhere in an artist’s opus. In other words, they performed the work of a connoisseur and viewed them through the eyes of an expert. In the field of old paintings, few French historians belonged to that family at the time. In this regard, Charles Sterling’s return from New York, where he had been forced to take refuge during the war, appeared as a sign: he was the missing master, whose conception of art history was what a small but growing circle of young people, myself included, were looking for.

I never met Léger, only glimpsed him once at the Closerie des Lilas; he had the same squarish, tough look as his paintings. After 1950–51, it seems to me that things hardened a bit. At the Salon de Mai in 1950, if I remember correctly, positions became more entrenched: concrete art and geometric abstraction on one side, lyrical abstractionists on the other. Not surprisingly, this gave rise to a number of disputes, notably among Léon Degand, Charles Estienne, and Michel Tapié. I read Estienne’s articles in Combat.

Two other figures, independent and unclassifiable, caused a sensation at René Drouin’s shortly after the war: Jean Fautrier and Jean Dubuffet. During the Occupation, Fautrier had painted politically committed works, his Hostages series, which were frankly affecting. Like the tragic Wols, he was greatly admired by the writers associated with the Nouvelle Revue française, such as Malraux and Jean Paulhan. As for Dubuffet, I don’t really remember him from those years, having seen and admired his work only later.

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