Thursday, August 13, 2015

Black Images in European Art: Musée des Années 30

When I first saw the Charles Cordier busts of an African man and a Caribbean woman at the Musée d'Orsay, I thought I might never again see such noble and faithful "ethnographic" works.

Nègre de Soudan and La Capresse
Charles Cordier
Marble, onyx, and bronze
Musée d'Orsay
© Discover Paris!

At the Musée des Années 30 in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, I was amazed to find dozens of them!

The museum was founded in 1939 and was originally located at City Hall. In 1998, it moved into 3,000 m² of exhibition space at the Espace Paul Landowski.

Espace Paul Landowski
© Discover Paris!

Musée des Années 30 - Entrance
© Discover Paris!

While there are works portraying blacks on each floor of the museum,

La Sièste, 1934
Auguste Clergeau
Oil on canvas
Ruhlmann Furniture display, fourth floor
© Discover Paris!

including a small representation of Josephine Baker (second floor),

Joséphine Baker, 1936
Sebastien Tamari
© Discover Paris!

the majority of the paintings and sculptures of this genre are found on the third floor.

Here, almost half of the display space is devoted to "colonial art."

Information panels (in French) provide background information on "orientalism" and the early 20th-century scientific/ethnographic missions in Africa, Central Asia, and China. Paintings and sculptures by dozens of artists are displayed. Several of these were originally exhibited at the former Museum for African and Oceanic Art in Paris.

Below are photos of some of the works found here. I found the sculptures to be particularly magnificent.

Jeune Somalien, 1936
Antoine Lyée de Belleau
Oil on canvas
© Discover Paris!

Rythme Africain, 1951
Evariste Jonchere
Patina on Plaster
© Discover Paris!

Chef Manzinga, 1925
Alexandre Iacovleff
Sanguine, pastel on paper
© Discover Paris!

Jeune fille Guéré, ca. 1940
Pierre Meauze
© Discover Paris!

The collection includes two paintings by Emile Bernard, the French Post-Impressionist painter who mentored Loïs Mailou Jones.

Etude de Mulâtresse, 1895
Emile Bernard
Oil on canvas
© Discover Paris!

Femme accroupi, 1895 (detail)
Emile Bernard
Oil on canvas
© Discover Paris!

Boulogne-Billancourt is easily accessible from Paris via metro.  The Musée des Années 30 is well worth a visit to this western suburb!

To access an online brochure on the museum (in French and English), click HERE.

Musée des Années 30
Espace Landowski
28, avenue André-Morizet
92100 Boulogne-Billancourt
Telephone : 01 55 18 46 42
Metro : Marcel-Sembat (Line 9), Boulogne-Jean-Jaurès (Line 10)

Opening hours:
Tuesday through Sunday 11 AM to 6 PM (ticket office closes at 5:15 PM)

Entry fee: 6.50 euros; reduced rate for seniors: 4.50 euros


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

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This is an excellent contributions to the African or if you prefer, Black presence in European art. We shall not fail to visit this museum in our next visit to Paris in September. We usually come to Paris mainly to visit the museums but we were not aware of this museum. Thanks for the information.
Kwame Opoku

About Beauford Delaney said...

You are welcome, Kwame! I'm pleased that Entrée to Black Paris is the source of this discovery for you.

Unknown said...

I will definitely checkout this exhibit. In the meantime, I cannot recommend highly enough for everyone to seek out and own the 10-volume series: The Image of the Black in Western Art. Research and edited by Dr. Henry Louis Gates and David Bindman, along with other editors, this is the most extraordinary and enlightening historical art record of Black fine art depictions I've seen in over 40 years. Not only did I find it historically informative, but it was exceptionally eye-opening in its global cultural significance. As such, I look forward to the additional 11th volume that's being compiled by Dr. Gates and others. If you want to authentically comprehend the full and factual extent of Blacks in world art from ancient millenniums to the 21st century this is a MUST BUY set of books. Volumes one through five of the 10-book set are still on, Harvard University Press and elsewhere. Though pricey, usually over $60 or £53 per book, each volume is truly worth its weight in gold for the detailed knowledge and generous photography. No set of fine art books are more complete and astonishing than this series. —