Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Paris Journal VII: The Beauty of Animals

If you are an animal lover, you will want to see “Beaute Animale” at the Grand Palais. It’s a perfect segue way from the work of Helmut Newton, also being exhibited at the Grand Palais, who was a great lover of beaver. Jeff Koons, Muybridge, Calder and Henry Moore are all represented, along with cats by Goya and Bonnard, a miscegenistic painting of black and white cats by Manet, a Picasso toad, and bats from both Durer and Van Gogh. The curators recount the incidence of the Viceroy of Egypt giving Charles X a giraffe which was marched from Marseilles to Paris. Courbet's La Truite, which appears in the show would be the perfect accompaniment for the next collector who dares to acquire his notorious L'Origine du monde. An anonymous painting of great complexity called  Les Oiseaux precedes an Audubon water color in a show devoted to both the food chain and the great chain of being and its influence on our conceptions of beauty. One curiosity is that the work of Henri Rousseau, which was filled with amazed animals, is remarkably absent from the show. Is there an implicit critique in the omission--of the politically incorrect notion that animals are naïve?

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