The Third Art History Festival Was Held in Fontainebleau Last Weekend

1. The Château de Fontainebleau during
the Third Art History Festival (2/6/13)
Photo : Didier Rykner

3/6/13 - Festival d’histoire de l’art - Fontainebleau - Under unexpectedly sunny skies after weeks of rain (ill. 1), the third art history festival closed Sunday evening in Fontainebleau.
Athough this year it was cut down to two and a half days instead of three, therefore probably attracting fewer persons Friday afternoon, attendance was very encouraging as the goal of 20,000 visitors was apparently reached, according to the figures issued by the French Ministry of Culture [1].

This year the theme was L’éphémère and the guest country was the United Kingdom. Some lectures and debates thus took place in English, for example a round table on museums in the English provinces. As usual, offers abounded and visitors were hard put to choose among them. There was also a very beautiful exhibition on Rosso at the château (see article, in French), including the little-known - often closed and visible only with guided visits - painting gallery which displays notably a very important early work by Rubens. Students from the Louvre presented works to the public for the occasion, showing much conviction and talent.
Like other years, a Salon du Livre d’Art (ill. 2) with beautiful offerings brought together several publishers and three art bookshops. While the public appeared to be interested, buyers did not really come forward, at least the first two days ; exhibitors were nevertheless satisfied as the event represents an excellent chance at communicating rather than selling.

2. The Salon du Livre d’Art
during the Third Art History Festival
Photo : Didier Rykner

We should point out that Aurélie Filippetti, French Minister of Culture, also came, staying about three hours, visiting the Salon and the château. This was a welcome presence as, in order to exist, the festival needs the Ministry of Culture. In fact, next year’s program has already been announced : the guest country will be Switzerland and the theme Collecting.
Another encouraging presence, that of the new president of the Louvre Jean-Luc Martinez, was particularly significant, especially since he came both Friday and Saturday. His participation was all the more appreciated since his predecessor had not deigned to set foot in Fontainebleau either last year nor the year before. There is no denying there has been a real change at the head of France’s leading museum.
In addition, we noticed a definite increase in the number of curators, notably those from the Louvre in fact, some of whom participated in the lectures as well as sitting in.

If we were to look at some of the suggestions we had made at the close of the first year (see article, in French), readers will notice that several of these have been adopted. Nevertheless, only a few conferences were filmed (and will be progressively posted on the festival blog), which is not really enough. The event, reflecting the this year’s theme - the ephemeral - remains transitory but could obviously become more enduring if proceedings were also published.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 5 juin 2013


[1] This type of attendance is nonetheless difficult to ascertain since access is free everywhere, including the château.

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