Critics’ Picks

View of “Arcadie dans les collections du Centre Pompidou,” 2009. Foreground: Projection onto macramé of Nicolas Poussin's The Arcadian Shepherds, 1638; background: François-Xavier Lalanne, Troupeau de moutons (Flock of Sheep), 1968.


“Arcadie: Dans Les Collections du Centre Pompidou”

Taipei Fine Arts Museum
181, Zhongshan North Road, Section 3
April 25–July 12

Beginning with Poussin’s The Arcadian Shepherds, 1638, projected onto a macramé partition in front of François-Xavier Lalanne’s Troupeau de moutons (Flock of Sheep), 1968, this thematic exhibition closes with the enormous Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 2002, by Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov, which depicts Cézanne, Monet, and Pissarro in a crowded landscape populated with model and animals.

Exhibition curator Didier Ottinger presents eighty-three utopian drawings, films, and paintings by forty-two artists. Some famous French figures (Braque, Matisse, and Picasso) and a host of intriguing contemporary figurative painting (by Balthus, Raoul Dufy, Charles Lapicque, Malcolm Morley, and Martial Raysse), along with some marvelously odd abstractions by Dubuffet, are included. In Arcadia, you eat, make love, and live in leisure, but you don’t raise children, read, write, or work. Max Ernst’s Le Jardin de la France (The Garden of France), 1962, spells out the one central organizing theme: A reclining naked woman is nature. That the female nudes by Bonnard, Albert Marquet, and Picabia lack male counterparts reveals the limitations of such European utopian thinking. Harmony and voluptuousness have their price. But by showing contemporary reality, Andreas Gursky’s 99 Cent, 1999, and Eric Fischl’s Strange Place to Park n. 2, 1992, suggest that this tradition remains of living interest to painters. Apart from Zao Wou-ki, who left his native country in 1948, no one here is Chinese. Yet China, too, has a strong Arcadian tradition of visual art.