metz,-france

Henri Matisse, La Tristesse du roi (The Sorrows of the King), 1952, gouache on canvas, 9' 6 7/8“ x 12' 7 7/8”. © Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Chefs-d’oeuvre?”

Centre Pompidou-Metz

THE INAUGURAL SHOW at the new Centre Pompidou in Metz, France, demonstrates just what a well-thought-out exhibition can do. Although several reviewers saw the show as merely presenting a hit parade of mostly French classics borrowed from the rich collections of its partner in Paris, the museum’s director, Laurent Le Bon, and a handful of cocurators took on a much more challenging task. In fact, the exhibition—as the question mark in its title, “Chefs-d’oeuvre?” (Masterpieces?), implies—addresses both the evolving meaning of the term masterpiece and the factors that contribute to works acquiring and maintaining this status. Although the subject has been a topic of scholarly concern for more than thirty years, this is the first exhibition to take the idea of the masterpiece as its focus.

Henri Matisse, La Tristesse du roi (The Sorrows of the King), 1952, gouache on canvas, 9' 6 7/8“ x 12' 7 7/8”. © Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The show concentrates on art that emerged between 1863 and 1960 in France. Some eight

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