This thematic exhibition pursues a free exploration of light, understood as a metaphor illuminating the artists’ respective relationships with the Mediterranean region, home to experimentation, and with modernism and postmodernism. It brings together outstanding loans of paintings by Vincent van Gogh, late paintings by Pablo Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico, Alexander Calder, as well as works by Sigmar Polke, Etel Adnan, Adolphe Monticelli and the musician Sun Ra. Hot Sun, Late Sun. Untamed Modernism thereby seeks to outline a family of artists whose origins go back to Adolphe Monticelli – a member, alongside Jean-François Millet, of the pantheon of artists who inspired Vincent van Gogh.
The “hot sun” of the title symbolises a modernism at its blazing zenith, embodied in the work of Van Gogh as from February 1888, when the Dutch artist discovered Provence. The “late sun”, belonging to the end of the day, is found in the works of Picasso’s final years. Head of a Man With Straw Hat (1971) – a summer picture – explicitly evokes Van Gogh, who shares with Picasso the movement of and within painting that can be traced back to Monticelli. The late period in an artist’s career is commonly associated with an art of synthesis. Thus Giorgio de Chirico likewise revisits earlier motifs, such as the representation of the sun on an easel. In parallel, he pursues his self-portraits in neo-Baroque disguise.
The light of postmodernism appears in the works of a different generation of artists, one to which Sigmar Polke belongs. His Modern Art (1968) is a young artist’s ironic comment on the fathers of the modern art which he sees being progressively deleted.
The other works in the exhibition lead us to the absolute sun, to the sun god and to the intense heat of a star, represented as a ball in the work of Alexander Calder. The Fondation presents a selection of his gouaches from the 1970s, whose primary colours and stylized forms reveal an organic, joyous and graphic continuity between Calder’s sculpture and his works on paper. From San Francisco, Lebanese artist Etel Adnan reconnects – by pen and brush – with her native country, which she was forced to leave. The landscape is represented through Mount Tamalpais, a mountain which Adnan sees as the “chief of the human tribe”, while the weight of the world manifests itself in a flattened sun in bold colours. The exhibition extends, naturally, to a cosmic sun as embodied by the singing and the vision of musician Sun Ra.
Curator: Bice Curiger
“Picasso-Méditerranée” is an international cultural event which will be held from Spring 2017 through to Spring 2019. Over sixty cultural institutions have come together to conjure up a programme around the work « obstinément méditerranéenne » of Pablo Picasso. Initiated by the Musée national Picasso-Paris, this journey into the creation of the artist and across the places which inspired him, aims at strengthening ties between all the shores.