Monday, 16 April 2012

Get it on, Vallotton

One of the highlights of the €20m refurb to the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, which was unveiled late last year, is the space afforded to the Nabis, including such artists as Bonnard, Denis and Vuillard. The collection highlights the work of Félix Vallotton (1865-1925) - this painting was acquired just last year - who seems to be hugely under celebrated in Britain.

Edouard Vuillard was the focus of a show at London's Royal Academy in 2004 - accompanied by one of the largest catalogues ever - but I can't think of a UK exhibition devoted to his Swiss colleague. The artist has always appealed to me for his illustrative style (check out his woodcuts) and interiors, including Sentimental Discussion (1898) and The Visit (1899). As well as the usual femmes à toilette, Vallotton is especially notable for his depictions of department stores, such as tryptique Le bon marché.

The Musée d'Orsay (pictured) is home to one of his most recognisable works, The Ball (1899), as well as Manet's Olympia, upon which Vallotton riffed in The White Woman and the Black Woman (1913). If you happen to visit before 6 May, the gallery is also currently hosting Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela's icy Lake Keitele (1905), which is owned by the National Gallery, London, and broadcaster Jon Snow's favourite painting.

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