If you're planning to visit Paris in 2019, you will surely be interested in finding out about the essential Paris exhibitions to check out this year. Here we have put together a comprehensive list of the Paris exhibitions we think people should visit, depending on the date of their visit and their specific interests. If you are doing a tour with us, be sure to let us know if you would like us to including any of these Paris exhibitions in your itinerary!
Forgotten Kingdoms - Heirs of the Hittite Empire
From May 2, 2019 to August 12, 2019
The Hittite empire, an important rival of ancient Egypt, ruled over Anatolia and had an influence over the Levant until around 1200 BC. Its demise gave rise to Neo-Hittite and Aramean kingdoms in modern-day Turkey and Syria, heirs of the political, cultural, and artistic traditions of the fallen empire. The exhibition invites visitors to rediscover the mythic sites of this forgotten civilization, such as the majestic remains of the Tell Halaf site, located near the current Turco-Syrian border. The history of this collection illustrates the continuing efforts to preserve endangered heritage sites, past and present, especially in countries at war.
The Louvre Museum - copyright Ben Bard
Archaeology Goes Graphic
Ends July 1, 2019
The Louvre’s Petite Galerie is a special space for art and cultural education, suitable for all ages. The exhibition “Archaeology Goes Graphic” will inspire a dialogue between archaeology and comic book art. Visitors will follow in the footsteps of archaeologists specializing in antiquity and see how they unearth objects buried at different periods and then classify them to understand what they tell us about the past. This collection shows how comic book art (known as the “ninth art” in France) has blended fact and fiction and drawn inspiration from archaeological discoveries.
From October 16 to February 10, 2020
Through this exhibition, the Louvre offers a retrospective of Cretan artist Domenico Theotokopoulos, also known as El Greco. It will focus on the founder of the Spanish School of the 16th century, who completed his apprenticeship in the Byzantine tradition before perfecting his art and training in Venice and Rome before blossoming in Spain.
The aim of this exhibition is to present “this rich face” and the multiple facets of the artist, often referred to as ‘the last Renaissance master and the first master of the Golden Age’.
Sérusier’s ‘The Talisman": A Prophecy of Color
From January 29 - June 2, 2019
This is an open-air study by Paul Sérusier from October 1888, mentored by the famous artist Paul Gaugin. The work became part of Maurice Denis’ collection, who recounted the story of its creation in an article published in L'Occident magazine in 1903:
“How do you see this tree?”asked Gauguin at the Bois d’Amour. “Is it really green? Use green, then, the most beautiful green on your palette. And that shadow, it’s quite blue, isn’t it? Don't be afraid to paint it as blue as possible”.
This resulted in a paradoxical and unforgettable form, the innovative concept of a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order. Sérusier’s study was interpreted as a ‘painting lesson’ by Paul Gauguin, which inspired the young painter to replace a mimetic artistic approach and search for a ‘colored equivalent’. This exhibition consists of 60 pieces and examines the pure, autonomous and abstract painting style and history of this iconic work.
Orsay Museum exhibition hall in Paris
Black Models: From Géricault to Matisse
March 26 - July 21, 2019
The multi-disciplinary approach in this exhibition combines the history of art and the history of ideas. It explores aesthetic, political, social and racial issues and looks specifically at three key periods: the abolition era (1794-1848), the new painting era up to the Matisse’s discovery of the Harlem Renaissance, the avant-garde movement of the early 20th century and the successive generations of post-war and contemporary artists.
The exhibition focuses on models and therefore the dialogue between the artist who paints, sculpts, engraves or photographs and the model who poses. It explores the way in which the representation of black subjects evolved in major works by Théodore Géricault, Charles Cordier, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse, as well as the photographs of Nadar and Carjat.
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
June 18 - September 22, 2019
Berthe Morisot was a leading Impressionist figure, because is still less well known today than her friends Monet, Degas and Renoir. Although she rejected many of the practices of the time, she was unarguably recognised as one of the most innovative impressionist artists. The exhibition traces the exceptional career of a painter who became a key figure of the Parisian avant-garde movement in the late 1860s up until her untimely death in 1895.
Berthe Morisot used models to explore several themes of modern life. These included the private life of the bourgeoisie, the popularity of holiday resorts and gardens, the importance of fashion and women’s domestic work, while blurring the lines between the interior and exterior, the private and the public, the finished and the unfinished. It was her belief that painting should endeavour to “capture something that passes”. Her final pieces, characterised by a new expressiveness and musicality, provoke a melancholic contemplation of the relationship between art and life.
Degas at the Opera
September 24, 2019 - January 19, 2020
From his debut in the 1860s up to his final works after 1900, much of Degas’ masterpieces were inspired by the Opera in Paris. He explored theatrical spaces – the auditorium, the stage, the boxes, the foyers, and the dance studios. He also followed the subjects that frequented these spaces: the dancers, singers, musicians, members of the audience, and black-attired stewards. This closed world presented a microcosm of infinite possibilities allowing all manner of experimentations with points of view, lighting, motion and movement.
For the first time, this exhibition considers the Opera as a whole, including Degas’ passionate relationship with the House, his musical tastes, as well as the various aspects of the Opera itself. Degas’ art offers a portrait of the 19th century Paris Opera.
Delacroix and Eugène: the Man behind the Artist
February 7, 2019 to May 6, 2019
Ten students from the École du Louvre have prepared an exhibition at the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix to examine little-known aspects of French artist Eugène Delacroix’s life and character. It provides a new lens through which to view and understand his work. Visitors are invited to embark upon a journey through his last apartment and studio and explore who the man, Eugène, really was. We invite you to venture beyond the myth of his public persona and delve into his private life, discovering him through his passions and his places of refuge. Central to the exhibition is his Journal, which gives an insight into his ambivalent and complex personality, as well as the richness and diversity of his art.
Musée Eugène Delacroix
Thomas Houseago - Almost Human
From March 15 to July 14, 2019
Paris’ Museum of Modern Art presents a solo exhibition of work by the artist Thomas Houseago. Born in Leeds, UK in 1972, Thomas Houseago has lived and worked in Los Angeles since 2003. He is one of the few and well-known sculptors of his generation. His use of wood, plaster, metal, concrete and bronze appears to emanate the styles of sculptors such as Henry Moore and Georg Baselitz, whose focus was often on achieving a vivid representation of the human body. His large sculptures show traces of the manufacturing process, giving a sense of both the strength and fragility of the human body.
Centre Georges Pompidou (Contemporary Art Museum)
Vasarely: Sharing Forms
February 4 - May 6, 2019
Victor Vasarely was a Hungarian-French artist, who is widely recognized as one of the founders of the Op art movement, a style of visual art that uses optical illusions. Discover this chronological and theme-based exhibition devoted to Vasarely, with three hundred artworks, objects and documents. The exhibition explores all facets of his rich and diverse work and aspects of its production. Visitors will be able to admire his paintings, sculptures, multiples, architectural integrations, advertising and early pieces.
Pompidou - Beaubourg Modern Art Center in Le Marais, Paris
May 8 - September 16, 2019
Through this exhibition, the Pompidou Center revisits the relationship uniting prehistory with modern and contemporary art. Key artists such as Picasso, Miró, Cézanne, Klee, Giacometti, Ernst, Beuys, Klein, Dubuffet, Smithson and Penone have been haunted by the question of prehistory and its origins. This exhibition shows how in this great moment of crisis called "modernity", artists and then society as a whole have been attracted by the notion of "origins" and a fantasized vision of history.
Bernard Frize: Without Repentence
May 29 – August 26, 2019
Fifteen years after his last exhibition in France at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, the Center Pompidou invites Bernard Frize, key French painter on the international art scene, to exhibit his work. It includes sixty pieces of art reflecting the many facets of his work, from his beginnings in 1977 to his most recent creations. Without repentance has no particular direction or hierarchy, for which Frize is usually known. At a time marked by virtuality and moving images, the artist questions the role of the painter and reflects on the issues associated with the medium of painting as few of his contemporaries have done.
The exhibition will bring the visitor into the very act of creation, revealing to them the strategies and intellectual challenges that underlie the painter's works. Six themes will structure a deliberately paradoxical exhibition path: With unreason, Without effort, With a system, Without a system, With control, Without stopping. Although he remains mainly known for his abstract and conceptual serial paintings, Bernard Frize has also incorporated figurative elements in his works and there will also be a display of his photography, which has remained relatively unknown until now.
June 5 – July 29, 2019
An artist and photographer, Picasso's muse and icon of surrealism, Dora Maar left an indelible imprint on the avant-garde movement of the 1930s. This exhibition explores the life of Maar and the many facets of her work.
September 11 – January 20, 2020
The exhibition is dedicated to the late work of the famous British painter, Francis Bacon, up to 1992, the year of his disappearance. In the second half of his career, Bacon brought books into his work. George Bataille, Michel Leiris and Nietzsche fed a polarized worldview that swung between civilization and barbarity, beauty and ugliness, life and death. In one piece he illustrates some of the terrifying expressions of his favorite authors, such as the "rattling of bones" from a poem by T.S. Eliot. His work portrays a deconstruction and criticism of the "poetic" modern world, rejecting all forms of idealism. He used classical culture and myth to present the dark side of modernity. Bacon explores violence, madness and hybris, synonymous with excesses among the ancient Greeks, on powerful canvases such as his triptychs.
November 13 - March 16, 2020
Following a labyrinthine itinerary, this great retrospective exhibition looks back on the life and work of one of France's leading contemporary artists, famous for having blurred the boundaries between his life and his work, and exploring the line between the absent and the present.
Red: Art and Utopia in Soviet Country
March 20 – July 1, 2019
An exhibition for all modern history lovers. This is an exhibition about the art of socialism in Russia after the October Revolution and it evolves around two parts. The first highlights “the debates that vigorously animate the Soviet stage the day after the Revolution”. It questions: what should the art of this new socialist society look like? and tries to answer it through a display of works by artists such as Gustav Klutsis, Vladimir Maäkovski, Lioubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova and Alexandre Rodtchenko. Through the media of theater, design, architecture, photomontage, and cinema, artists express this new, avant-garde political art aiming at leaving behind “bourgeois” art for an “art of production”.
The second part looks at the end of pluralism in art, which existed after the October Revolution, and the emergence of communism and Stalin. Pluralism became reduced to one of the simplest art forms, figuration, considered “most fit for introducing the crowds to the models of a new social man”. Artists such as Alexandre Deïneka, Youri Pimenov, Alexandre Samokhvalov and Alexeï Pakhomov play a part in slowly defining “the pictorial principles of socialist realism”, depicting “blue-collar work”, the “body” and the “bright future”.
Grand Palais Coupola from Alexander III Bridge
The Moon: Real and Imaginary Voyages
April 3 – July 22, 2019
This exhibition is dedicated to the moon and its representations. A retrospective going from the Apollo 11 mission to travel through time and discover the very particular vision artists and scientists had of this Earth satellite. Let’s get on board with Galileo, Cassini and Jules Verne, and see the moon as you’ve never seen it before.
October 9, 2019 – January 27, 2020
Toulouse-Lautrec from every angle… This exhibition is dedicated to the artist known for his painting depicting Parisian night’s world. An exhibition aims at returning to three rejections influencing the current vision of Toulouse-Lautrec and clearing them: a certain despise of the values of his class, a market of disregarded art as well as a world of chargeable and overused night and sex.
Oriental Visions: From Dreams into Light
March 7 – July 21, 2019
This exhibition will include around fifty masterpieces from major European and American public and private collections and will set out to provide fresh insight into this art form. Many painters were inspired by Napoleon’s victories and wanted to travel to see the Oriental fantasy for themselves. This led to the emergence of orientalism in the dawn of the industrial era, lasting throughout the 19th century and permeating the whole of Europe. The exhibited works will be divided into two main sections: the human figure and the landscape.
Marmottan Impressionist Museum
Musée du Luxembourg
Les Nabis et Decoration: Bonnard, Vuillard, Maurice Denis ...
March 13 - June 30, 2019
For the first time in France, this exhibition explores the ornamental and decorative art of the Nabis, a group of Post-Impressionist avant-garde artists who set the pace for fine arts and graphic arts in France in the late 19th century. At the end of the 1880s, painters Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard and Paul Sérusier experimented with a joyful, colorful and lively form of art. For a few years, these post-impressionists go beyond the classical boundaries between Fine Arts and Applied Arts. The Luxembourg Museum exhibits their bright colors and their forms, liberated from realism. A marked interest in symbolism also characterizes this avant-garde current.
Franz Marc / August Macke. The adventure of the Blue Rider
March 6 to June 17, 2019
This exhibition features two important figures of German Expressionism and the Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) movement, Franz Marc (1880-1916) and August Macke (1887-1914). These artists became friends in 1910 due to their shared interest particularly in Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Fauvism, who they discovered during their time in Paris. Both showed a fascination for landscapes and nature in their early paintings, and often painted in the open air.
Their painting style became more radical after they met Vassily Kandinsky in 1911 and founded the Der Blaue Reiter Almanach (The Blue Rider Almanac). They helped organise international avant-garde exhibitions in Cologne in 1912 and in Berlin in 1913, and continued to develop their artistic styles. As their styles evolved, Franz Marc turned to abstract art in 1913, influenced by the Italian Futurists exhibition and Robert Delaunay’s paintings. Macke, however, moved away from Kandinsky’s intellectual spirituality and preferred to depict the relationship between humans and nature. He was particularly inspired by his travels to Tunisia with Paul Klee. Both artists were conscripted to fight in World War I in 1914 and died in combat, leaving unfinished yet emblematic works that portray the hedonistic, colorful and seductive side of German Expressionism.
The Waterlillies room in Orangerie Museum in Paris, near Tuileries Gardens
Contemporary counterpoint / Alex Katz. Water Lilies – Homage to Monet
May – August 2019
Alex Katz is an American figurative, Pop Art-style painter. He was born in 1927 and has been producing landscapes since the 1950s. Based in New York, he spends the summers in his studio in rural Maine, near a water lily pond. It was there that he produced a series of paintings in homage to Monet’s Water Lilies.
He says of his work, “The water lilies are on the pond in Maine and I’ve been looking at them for 50 years but I never touched them because of Monet. But I said ‘you’re going to do it’, and I just did it." Alex Katz produced small charcoal sketches of the water lilies and later transposed them to large canvases. A series of four to five of his paintings will be on display in the exhibition space of the Musée de l’Orangerie.
- GEORGES DORIGNAC: BODY AND SOUL
March 15 – September 8, 2019
At the beginning of his career, Dorignac was inspired by impressionist and pointillism (a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image). Millet, Signac and Seurat were among his idols. He moved to Montmartre in 1901 moved to La Ruche (also known as ‘the city of artists’) in Montparnasse in around 1910. Here he worked closely with Modigliani and Soutine. He developed his own independent style, drawing inspiration from Romanesque, oriental and medieval art.
This exhibition will gather nearly 80 works, half of which have never been on display to the general public. It will reveal the variety of styles and techniques employed by the artist and his dazzling mastery. The exhibition will highlight his some of his most famous drawings, a series of contrasting patterns which was greeted with enthusiasm by the artists, critics and collectors of the time. "Dorignac sculpts his drawings," Rodin declared.
Ends April 7, 2019
While Rodin is widely known to the public as a sculptor, his drawings were, in his words, "the key to my work". The ‘Cut-outs’ exhibition presents nearly two hundred and fifty drawings, ninety of which are characterized by the cutting out and assembling of figures. Playing with the spatial setting, this process reveals audacious cut-out silhouettes and a highly modern dynamic, heralding one of the 20th century’s innovative forms of expression.
The Gardens of Rodin Museum are located near the Invalides esplanade
Atelier des Lumières
Van Gogh / Dreamed Japan / Verse
February 22 to December 31, 2019
A journey into van Gogh’s greatest masterpieces
The new digital exhibition in the Atelier des Lumières immerses visitors in the paintings of Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), whose genius only gained recognition after his death and who transformed painting. Projected on all the surface of the Atelier, this new visual and musical production retraces the intense life of the artist, who, during the last ten years of his life, painted more than 2,000 pictures, which are now in collections around the world.
The exhibition explores van Gogh’s numerous works, which radically evolved over the years, from The Potato Eaters (1885), Sunflowers (1888) and Starry Night (1889) to Bedroom at Arles (1889). The Atelier des Lumières highlights the Dutch painter’s expressive and powerful brushstrokes and is illuminated by the bold colours of his unique paintings. Warm hues give way to sombre colours. The immersive exhibition evokes van Gogh’s highly emotional, chaotic, and poetic inner world and highlights the constant interplay of light and shade.
The thematic itinerary retraces stages of the artist’s life, and his sojourns in Neunen, Arles, Paris, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and Auvers-sur-Oise. Visitors are transported into the heart of his works, from his early to mature years, and from his sunny landscapes and nightscapes to his portraits and still-lifes.
There are also digital exhibitions on Dreamed Japan and Verse, the latter being a photographic exploration of humankind’s place in the Universe.
This museum from the Louis Vuitton Foundation features modern and contemporary art in a unique building designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.
THE COLLECTION OF THE FONDATION: A VISION FOR PAINTING
February 20 to August 26, 2019
The Louis Vuitton Fondation gathers 75 works and 23 international artists from the 1960s to the present day around one main theme: painting.
This takes many forms: figurative and abstract, expressive and distanced. Relief pieces are contrasted with each other. Rooms are devoted to Joan Mitchell, Alex Katz, Gerhard Richter, Ettore Spalletti, Yayoi Kusama and Jesús Rafael Soto and alternate between themes of abstraction, space and colour. The exhibition shows how painting never ceases to reinvent itself and transgress its own rules, drawing on current techniques for reproduction.
The Vuitton Fondation is a bit outside of the city of Paris - in Bois de Boulogne area (Western Part of the city, not far from Roland Garros tennis courts)
THE COURTAULD COLLECTION: A VISION FOR IMPRESSIONISM
February 20 - June 17, 2019
The exhibition presents the collection of the British entrepreneur and art patron Samuel Courtauld.
“The Courtauld Collection: A Vision for Impressionism” brings together some 110 works, including 60 paintings and graphic pieces, which are mainly conserved in the Courtauld Gallery or in different international public and private collections. It features some of the greatest French paintings from the end of the 19th century and from the very beginning of the 20th century.
These works include "Un Bar aux Folies Bergère" (1882) by Manet, "La Jeune Femme se poudrant" by Seurat (1889-90), "Les Joueurs" de cartesby Cézanne (1892-96), "Autoportrait à l’oreille bandée" by Van Gogh (1889), "Nevermore" by Gauguin (1897), as well as a set of ten watercolours by J.M.W. Turner.
Musée de l’Armée - INvalides (War Museum)
Picasso and the War
April 5 - July 28, 2019
Spanish artist Pablo Picasso lived through two major conflicts. From the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s to the Vietnam War ending in the mid-70s, the exhibition ‘Picasso and the War’ will highlight the ways in which these experiences affected and influenced his work. An exhibition not to be missed in 2019.
Coupola of the Invalides war museum, across the Seine river from Grand Palais
From pen to paintbrush: Drawings from the Arab World
March 26 - September 15, 2019
This is an unprecedented exhibition on drawing in the Arab world. Discover 100 mostly figurative drawings dating from the eleventh century to the present day, some of which are being exhibited for the first time.
There is a great rooftop view from the Institut du Monde Arabe - towards Notre Dame Cathedral
Here are some events going on throughout the year. You may like to check which ones will be on while you're in Paris.
JOURNÉES DES MÉTIERS D’ART (ARTS AND CRAFTS WEEK)
April 1-7, 2019
The European Arts and Crafts Week is a unique event in the world promoting recognition of the arts and crafts sector.
April 4-7, 2019
Art Paris will bring together 150 modern and contemporary art galleries from across 20 different countries in the magnificent Grand Palais.
The perfect place for discovery and rediscovery, the fair combines a region-by-region exploration of European art from the post-war years to the present day and a cosmopolitan perspective on the new horizons of international creation from Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Alongside the main exhibition programme, the fair will present a critical and subjective overview of the work of women artists in France curated by AWARE: Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions. The 2019 edition will also explore Latin American art, a focus led by Valentina Locatelli, an independent exhibition curator.
May 18, 2019
The event ‘A Night at the Museum’ is organised by the Ministry of Culture and Communication and aims to make culture more accessible to all. Throughout the evening, as well as presenting their permanent collections, some Parisian museums organise other activities, shows, readings and concerts. On this one special night, you can visit or revisit the top museums in the French capital, such as the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, or Centre Pompidou, or any of the other museums that are participating.
September 5-14, 2019
The 8th annual Paris Design Week is scheduled to overlap with Maison&Objet Paris. French and international professionals and the general public will be able to discover the best showcases of design in Paris, while the leading talents in the discipline gather at the LE OFF exhibition.
Paris Design Week unites 300 participants that all represent first-rate design in Paris. At a time when new collections are popping up in stores and the new concepts for the autumn are being launched, the event brings together the talents and forces of retailers, galleries, showrooms, hotels and restaurants for eight days to share their experience in design and creation with the public.
September 20-22, 2019
Launched by the Ministry of Culture and Communication more than 30 years ago, the European Heritage Days invite you to discover or rediscover the monuments of Paris for free. There will be many events to enjoy and participate in.
In addition to famous places such as the Elysee Palace, Matignon, the Musée d’Orsay and the Arc de Triomphe, visitors can discover contemporary attractions such as the Paris Philharmonic concert hall, the Louis Vuitton Foundation and the City of Fashion and Design.
October 5, 2019
At this all-night event ('The White Night'), artists create installations and put on performances at famous monuments and cultural venues, giving people a chance to admire Paris’s heritage after sunset.
October 17-20, 2019
An annual showcase of French and international modern art, including paintings, photography and sculpture.