• “Amours”

    Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain
    261 boulevard Raspail
    June 6–November 2, 1997

    We all know the cliché that l’amour is the true passion of the French. Now the Fondation Cartier, in a seductive exhibition of work by some fifty artists, has set out to examine love in all its art-historical variety. “Amours” brings together work ranging from drawings by Ingres and sensuous scenes by Watteau and Fragonard to graffitied walls captured by Brassai and images of provocative tattoos, along with more contemporary examples of the art of love, including work by Douglas Gordon and Gary Hill. One highlight is André Labarthe’s film incorporating love scenes from the history of cinema. Philippe Sollers, national intellectual and one of the organizers of the show, contributes an essay to the catalogue. June 6-Nov. 2

  • Fernand Léger

    Centre Pompidou
    Place Georges-Pompidou
    May 29–September 29, 1997

    This full-scale retrospective of Fernand Léger’s oeuvre is a suitable way for the Pompidou to celebrate its twentieth birthday. Although he is one of the undisputed masters of the century, the multilayered variety of his work remains curiously unknown. Léger’s vagrant activities as painter, filmmaker, illustrator, designer for the stage and of sumptuous tapestries, and teacher both in France and abroad come together in one great hymn to modernism and the urban experience —from Cubism to later scenes of construction workers, divers, and cyclists. The 200-plus works put together by curators Isabelle Monod-Fontaine and Claude Laugier make this a show not to be missed. May 29-Sept. 29; travels to Reina Sofia, Madrid, Oct. 28-Jan. 12, 1998; a smaller version travels to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Feb. 11, 1998—May 19, 1998

  • César: Retrospective

    Musée National du Jeu de Paume

    June 10–October 19, 1997

    If the last Venice Biennale enthroned César as the patriarch of French sculpture, this full-scale retrospective curated by Jeu de Paume director Daniel Abadie inaugurates the era of his consecration. Those frightened by the early ’60s César, scion of the nouveaux réalistes who merrily threw old car bodies into compactors to make scrap-metal cubes, or disgusted by the late ’60s César, maker of soft and erotic inflated plastic forms, will be comforted by the artist’s “Bestiary,” sculptures from the ’50s of hairy beasts much closer to the work of Picasso, Julio González, or Germaine Richier. June 10-Oct. 19

  • Chéri Samba

    Musée National des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie
    May 13–August 18

    The work of Chéri Samba imparts a satirical, even grotesque edge to issues like AIDS and political corruption. The Zairean artist’s paintings, centered here predominantly around the theme of “lovers,” issue from what might be dubbed an Afro-pessimistic perspective. One comes away from curator Philippe Garcia de la Rosa’s lush survey of thirty-eight works struck especially by Samba’s skill at integrating text and painting, charging his images with a delightful and lively sense of orality. May 13-Aug. 18