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Small exhibits shine in the City of Light

One of my most memorable art exhibitions on this trip wasn’t at a museum. It was at a library. I braved a cool, breezy afternoon to go see the Francisque Poulbot exhibition at the Bibliotheque de Fornay just north of the Seine across from Ile Saint-Louis.


Poulbot (1879-1946) was famous for his illustrations of the effect La Grande Guerre (the Great War–WWI) had on the street children of Montmartre.


In fact, street urchins became a main theme in all of his artwork. Poulbot supported Le Clos de Montmartre, a charity that raised money for Les Petits Poulbot–street urchins– affectionately nicknamed after him.


Poulbot is buried in his beloved Montmartre.

Ossip Zadkine’s studio and gardens were also a lovely example of opening up to visitors the simple working conditions and pleasures of an urban artist’s setting. Zadkine (1890-1967) was a sculptor. His museum is a recent addition to the tour of studios throughout Paris.

Orpheus (1956)

Unfortunately the men with trimmers and leafblowers were working during my visit there. But, even with this teeth-grating, soul-rattling sound filtering through the windows, Zadkine’s Parisian retreat was luminous with his statues carved from various types of wood, smaller sculptures set into niches and onto window sills, and his bronze studies stashed throughout his lush gardens.

An exposition of Chaim Soutine’s paintings was installed in a lovely venue by the Madeleine church. The setting itself was beautiful, and Soutine’s wild, globby canvases were hung on dark green, burnt orange, and navy blue walls. Soutine (1893-1943) was a good friend of Modigliani, and is buried in Montmartre.

Return from School After the Storm (c. 1939). Oil on canvas.    

Although Soutine is better known for his paintings of dead animals and sides of beef, this exhibit was vibrant and swirling with the Minsk-born artist’s vivid impressions. Soutine is buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery.


I’ve come to prefer the smaller collections and displays. I wish the Louvre would divide up its collection and concentrate on some smaller exhibits. If tourists only go to the Louvre, I fear they will only remember its great art as overwhelming, confusing, and hard on the feet.

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