Within the framework of the ongoing Act V exhibition,
which opened at the beginning of the year:
Act V, Scene 2, The Arles Picassos
Act V, Scene 3, with guest, Christian Lacroix
Musée Réattu, Arles, France
Until 30th December, 2012
The second and third stages of this ambitious and mammoth, year-long exhibition opened last week at the Musée Réattu, the formidable late 15th century, former Grand Priory of the Order of Malta in Arles – the building itself, idiosyncratically, listed as the first item in its own collection. ‘This was where my parents, in the mid-1950s, took me to see my first Picasso exhibition, explains couturier Christian Lacroix – born and based in the city – in the preface to the catalogue, ‘From that day on, I knew that art belonged to life…’, from which, I suppose, one may glean that he felt art shouldn’t be hidden away but rather shown and made accessible to everyone – incidentally, his first perfume, launched in in 1990 was called C’est La Vie — ‘Then came the highlight, the fabulous late Picassos, so very vigorous – and the wave of emotion when we learnt they were to stay in the museum.’ Act V draws upon the whole of the museum’s collections in the run up to next year’s 40th anniversary of Picasso’s 1971 gift of fifty-seven drawings to the Réattu.
While Act V, scene 2 is dedicated to Picasso’s link to Arles, which began with his first visits to the city with Georges Braque, that led to his Arlesienne drawings of 1912 and his revisiting the same themes in 1937, when the work was inspired by the captivating looks and drive of model, photographer and famously, Man Ray’s lover, Lee Miller. On loan from Paris’s Musée Picasso, the artist’s famous 1937 Portrait of Lee Miller en Arlésienne – produced in the same turbulent year as Guernica – is included in the exhibition along with, among many others, his 1923 painting of his mother, Maria Lopez. A large number of archive photographs by leading photographers, including others Robert Doisneau and Willy Ronis, documenting Picasso’s life and in the company of his other muses, Jacqueline Picasso and Françoise Gilot, have been drawn together and are also on show.
Showing concurrently with Act V, Scene 2, Scene 3 casts son of Arles, Christian Lacroix, who, in 2008, exhibited his master patterns for seven of his 2009 couture dresses here, as costume designer. His Molière Best Costume Award-winning, fantastical creations for theatre, opera and the bullfighting ring, are being shown in specially designed, extravagent room sets, within the labyrinthine structure. The 16th century chapel becomes the Comédie Française for the occasion, as the whole cast of Lacroix’s Phèdre takes over the nave, one costume from the production having been made from a patchwork of embroidered jeans, reworked in the style of the 17th century, with a nod to the great master Picasso’s musketeers.
Lucien Clergue, Picasso, Cannes, 1956. Collection Musée Réattu
Christian Lacroix, Costume for Les caprices de Marianne, by Alfred de Musset, directed by Lambert Wilson in 1994 for the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord. Collection Christian Lacroix/Centre national du costume de scène