Download PDF by Michel Laclotte: A Key to the Louvre

By Michel Laclotte

An artwork global insider offers a witty and penetrating account of 50 years on the middle of overseas culture.

Art historian, curator, and museum director Michel Laclotte has been on the leading edge of French cultural existence over the last part century. This casual autobiography sheds mild on his fabulous occupation with heat and directness. Highlights contain 20 years as leader curator of portray and sculpture on the Musée du Louvre, heading the group that created the Musée dOrsay, and taking the reins of the Louvre to steer the trouble 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 paintings scholarship, intrigue, and success, Laclotte introduces a rare forged 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 Eighties and Nineties. His tale overlaps with nearly each significant scholarly determine in French paintings background of the final half-century, in addition to Laclottes mentors and associates 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 might be crucial examining for artwork international afficianados and all scholars of paintings and smooth culture.

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On reflection, it seems to me that gallery owners were quite generous at the time, for Coural and I were simple students who hardly looked like golden boys. I recall us at Pierre Loeb’s, who had been a friend of the Surrealists, in his gallery at the corner of Rue de Seine and Rue des Beaux-Arts, where Coural bought a magnificent drawing by Giacometti, a Studio from 1940. We walked out without having to pay for the drawing! Loeb had never seen us before, but he no doubt sensed our passion and told us to come back and settle the bill when we could.

Even as I continued taking courses at the Ecole du Louvre and the Institut d’Art, I conducted guided tours of the Louvre to make some extra money. My old friend Sylvie Béguin, who was then a young research assistant in the Paintings Department, got me hired as an intern in the Service d’Études et de Documentation. This remarkable office had been created before the war by Huyghe; the other curatorial departments didn’t have one. Here, each painting owned by the Louvre was the subject of a large, scholarly documentary file, which was constantly updated.

Magnelli, whom I met at Denise René’s, was an imposing individual. In my notes, I described him as an “Episcopal Léger”: he had some of Léger’s massive stature, but was more unctuous. 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.

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A Key to the Louvre by Michel Laclotte

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