American Icons 5

Review: American Icons, Musée Granet

Eponine Le Galliot took the opportunity to visit some of the greats of American art while they’re on tour in France. 

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is at the moment undergoing a complete restoration and has therefore, along with with the private Fisher collection (the Fisher family are leading art collectors), lent for this period some of its most famous and emblematic works of art to different museums in Europe, particularlyin France. Following its time at the Grand Palais in Paris, the exhibition has just arrived to the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence in the South of France, where it will remain until the 18th of October.American Icons 6

I was really excited to see the art works of such big names of American modern art; I had already had the occasion to see some at the MoMA in New York a few years ago, but this time they were actually crossing the ocean to come over to Europe.
The presentation includes the works of fourteen big American artists, showing off Pop Art, Minimalism and Abstract Art among others- with names such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Chuck Close and Sol LeWitt.

43 artworks from the mid-20th to the early 21st century comprise this exhibition of modern and contemporary artists, including paintings and a few sculptures. As you go through the show, you discover some of the most famous works of the masters of Pop Art, such as Andy Warhol’s “Liz”, or the Lichtenstein “Tire”, as well as the inspiring portraits of Chuck Close, made with hundreds of little squares painted one by one to obtain a final face.

Poetic, deceptively airy sculpture

Poetic, deceptively airy sculpture

Then come the sculptures. There are Alexander Calder’s well known and poetic mobiles- which are in fact way bigger than I expected. Some people even tried to blow on them to make them move, but it did not work at all. There are also on-the-floor works from Carl Andre and lighted sculptures from Dan Flavin.

The presentation gives us a good overview of American post-war art, and the artistic movements that followed on from it: Pop, Conceptual and Abstract Art, as well as Minimalism and Hyperrealism.

I would say overall that this is a good showing of the most inspirational American artists of this period, as the layout of the exhibition is particularly successful and coherent. If you are a fan of American art and/or of contemporary art, be it two or three-dimensional work, there are lots of chances for you to be impressed by this show: the explosion of colours and different shapes of the works of art will blow you away.American Icons 4

However, I feel like a general theme is missing from this exhibition; as it has been set up mostly because of the closing of another museum, it is not really a themed presentation in itself and therefore has no guiding line. It is more like a collection of works from a defined period of time and style, lacking any real focus on their relationship to each other or to any context.
But if you bear in mind that as the brochure says that“the presentation focuses on the singularity of these figures”, and happen to be in the South of France for your holidays this summer, don’t hesitate to go and have a look before the art works go home for the reopening of the museum in 2016; and between us, it is always nice to be able to see Warhol or Lichtenstein’s works in real, right?

“American Icons”, on show at the Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, from the 11th of July to the 18th of October. Free for students under 26



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