The Musée Calvet continues its refurbishment


1. Musée Calvet
New rooms for the Modern Art
Photo : Didier Rykner

A little over two years ago, we published an article on the Musée Calvet and how it had recently reopened almost all of its exhibition space after a lengthy refurbishment period. Just a few weeks ago, the museum inaugurated more rooms, this time devoted to 20th century works, which have also undergone renovation.

The collections are particularly well enhanced thanks to simple but refined choices such as the wall colours (ill. 1). The artistic selection begins at the turn of the century with a painting by Georges Desvallières from 1903, The Artist’s Mother, which easily recalls, both by its subject and the seated profile, Whistler’s famous painting at the Musée d’Orsay. Two beautiful sculptures also open the visit, a Bust of Paul as a Young Roman, a bronze by Camille Claudel and a marble profile, strongly influenced by the Italian Renaissance, by the Marseille sculptor Paul Gonzales (ill. 2). There are several paintings by Chaïm Soutine, a canvas by Pierre Bonnard, A Winter Day, on deposit from Orsay, and some local artists who are not as well-known but represented by high-quality works (Marius Roux-Renard, Louis-Agricol Montagne…) [1].

2. Paul Gonzales (1856-1938)
Saint Cecilia, 1900
Marble
Avignon, Musée Calvet
Photo : Didier Rykner

3. Musée Calvet
New rooms for the Modern Art
Paintings by Albert Gleizes
(On the left : White Composition, 1945 ;
on the right : Mother and Child, 1920)
Photo : Didier Rykner


Visitors will be sure to admire a remarkable ensemble of paintings by Albert Gleizes (ill. 3 and 4), donated by his wife (the one on the right of illustration 3 however, was acquired in 1985 by the Fondation Calvet). Later works displayed here do not enter The Art Tribune’s chronological field (Gérard Fromanger, Joe Drowning…).


4. Albert Gleizes (1881-1953)
Motherhood, 1934
Oil on canvas
Avignon, Musée Calvet
Photo : Didier Rykner

5. Charles-Louis Müller (1815-1892)
Study for The Appeal of the Last Prisoners Sentenced to Death under the Terror, 1850
Oil on canvas
Avignon, Musée Calvet
Photo : Didier Rykner


6. Melchior Doze (1827-1913)
The Charity of Saint Elizabeth of Hongria
Oil on canvas
Avignon, Musée Calvet
Photo : Musée Calvet

This new presentation has reassembled paintings which previously hung on the first floor. Likewise, 19th century canvases which had not been displayed for quite a long time, were taken out of storage, restored and are now exhibited here. Among these, we point out a beautiful study of a head by Charles-Louis Muller, preparatory for his famous painting The Appeal of the Last Prisoners Sentenced to Death under the Terror (ill. 5) ; a very fine Melchior Doze, an essentially religious painter from Uzès who worked extensively in Nîmes (ill. 6), a View of the Public Baths at Cluny attributed to Louis Daguere, which hangs next to a painting by Auguste de Forbin, on deposit from the Musée de Rennes since 2008 ; a work with an unusual iconography, Cinderella’s Dream by Eugène Le Poittevin and also an academic nude by Paul Baudry.
The next stage in the refurbishment of these exhibition spaces is currently underway : the restoration of three rooms in the Hôtel de Villeneuve Martignan [2] with their original 18th century inlaid woodwork by the sculptor Pierre Bondon, the Grand Salon (ill. 7) or Company Salon, the Music salon (ill. 8) and the library. They will welcome the museum’s Egyptian collection and are scheduled to reopen in June of 2011.


7. Pierre Bondon (1716-1782)
Woodwork of the Grand Salon
Avignon, Hôtel de Villeneuve Martignan
(Musée Calvet)
Photo : Didier Rykner

8. Pierre Bondon (1716-1782)
Woodwork of the Music Salon
Avignon, Hôtel de Villeneuve Martignan
(Musée Calvet)
Photo : Didier Rykner


All of this renovation work, the new modern rooms, the restoration of rooms with old décors and the overall museological installations are covered by a one-million euro budget funded by the city of Avignon and the Fondation Calvet. The next phase, still without funding, will reorganize the temporary exhibition rooms. Then, we hope, work will be carried out to extend the space for the permanent collections by rehabilitating and opening the Hôtel Montlaur next door (ill. 9) which is already owned by the museum.


9. Hôtel Montlaur
Photo : Didier Rykner

10. Entrance grille of the Musée Calvet
after restoration
Photo : Musée Calvet - F. Lepeltier


Finally, along with the restoration of the entrance grille also known as the “portail Biret” from its designer, Noël Biret, created in 1888 (ill. 10), we would like to mention the reorganization at the Musée Lapidaire, an annex of the Musée Calvet located in the former Jesuit church (ill. 11). At the moment, it houses the Egyptian collections until they are transferred to the 18th century salons, a move which will free up the space for a better display of the Medieval collection.
The side chapels have been remodeled with a red backdrop (ill. 12), a colour which definitely enhances the sculptures but by reducing the space presents the drawback of distorting the architectural vision of the church. After it is restored, the church will also be used to exhibit large format paintings which cannot be presented inside the museum itself.


11. Facade of the Former Jesuit Church
Musée lapidaire, annex of the Musée Calvet
Photo : Didier Rykner

11. Interior of the Musée Lapidaire
Former Jesuit Church
Photo : Didier Rykner


Slowly but surely, the Musée Calvet is thus continuing its refurbishment and restoration plans which will eventually enable it to display its permanent collections in a very complete manner and also stage the major exhibitions it has always dreamed of bringing to Avignon. While its goal of a total reopening of the museum in 2011, stated two years ago, cannot be met [3], the determination of the managing team deserves to be highly commended for focusing on the basics at the heart of their profession rather than expending energy and money on ephemeral events at a time when other establishments (one in mind is not far from Avignon) opt for the totally opposite approach.

Musée Calvet Internet website


Didier Rykner, mercredi 30 juin 2010


Notes

[1] An album was published for the occasion, presenting 33 works without entries : Sylvain Boyer, Musée Calvet. La collection d’art moderne, 2010, Musée Calvet, 43p., 9 €. ISBN : 295281069.

[2] We remind our readers that the Musée Calvet is located in this 18th century hôtel, or private residence, built by the architect Jean-Pierre Franque.

[3] For the same reason, the Vernet exhibition which we announced in our article in 2008 will not take place.



imprimer Print this article

Previous article in Museums : Projected statutes for Versailles : another loss for art history

Next article in Museums : Ajaccio and Bastia : Corsica’s museums get a facelift