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A Parisian Retrospective on Marcel Breuer’s Manhattan Vision

PARIS — “What should a museum look like, a museum in Manhattan?” architect Marcel Breuer asked in explaining his design for the Whitney Museum of American Art. “Surely it should work, it should fulfill its requirements, but what is its relationship to the New York landscape? What does it express, what is its architectural message?” An exhibition in Paris looks at the career of the architect as the Whitney prepares to move on from the building he designed.

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Making a Heaven in Hell: The Angel of the Odd’s Dark Romanticism

PARIS — With the bloody revolutions of the late 1700s, the mood in Europe was apprehensive and brooding about the future. Perhaps then it’s no surprise that the art from that time has a certain gloominess to it as well. Yet what is unexpected is the strange beauty certain artists began to give their visions of horror, whether it was embracing the devil in the same way Milton did in Paradise Lost as an alluring prince of darkness, or portraying the apocalypse with a light that was inverted to our world, but curiously enticing. It’s this deviant use of beauty that is celebrated in L’Ange du Bizarre (The Angel of the Odd), an exhibition draped over the galleries of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris that beckons with its Dark Romanticism.

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Early Anatomical Specimens Model the Macabre

Long before Body Worlds shocked people with its theatrically preserved people or Damien Hirst even thought to dunk a dead shark in a tank of formaldehyde, scientists were erring into the realm of art with their attempts at preserving life for anatomical study. The specimens in particular that emerged as a way to show the inner workings of the human body, such as the late 18th century “anatomical venus” models of the sculptor Clemente Susini — beautiful young ladies with their hair tossed back and their pale skin pulled open to show the organs within — mixed death and anatomy with an uncanny beauty. One anatomist took this to an unprecedented extreme. Honoré Fragonard transformed the human body into an object of strange art, flaying open the skin and preserving it to show the hidden veins and organs, but at the same time giving it a dramatic pose that captured the absent life.

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The Dark Side of the Sun at the Palais de Tokyo

PARIS — Organizing 236,000 square feet of exhibition space around one theme seems like an impossible task, as impossible as the coldness of the sun. However, since it was reborn in 2012 as Europe’s largest non-collecting art museum, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris has been focusing on exactly that: massive presentations of temporary group and solo exhibitions in its Place du Trocadéro space, all around a central theme, with the current being Soleil Froid (Cold Sun).

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Using Zombies to Look at the Architecture of Modern Decay

Our last century of urban sprawl seems too recent to already be in ruins, but we do tend to move on quickly from our best laid plans. Now looking at the stranded shopping malls in unfinished subdivisions or the half-built vision of some cheaply made utopian dream, you could see them as odd beacons of a future that never arrived. Or, you know, a great place for zombies.

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Quelle horreur! Louvre Strike Against Pickpocketing Menaces

Tens of thousands of the visitors who mob the Louvre each day drawn by those sirens the slightly smiling Mona Lisa, the amputated beauty the Venus de Milo, and the windswept Winged Victory of Samothrace had their hopes dashed like ships against the rocks by a staff strike in response to pickpocketing. Adding to France’s storied history of disruptive strikes of questionable impact, the Paris museum was shut down Wednesday with a 200 member staff walkout.

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In the Crosshairs: Art in Dialogue with Hunting

PARIS — When I stepped into the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, I knew I would be seeing a lot of taxidermy trophies and guns in this museum of the hunt and nature, but I wasn’t expecting contemporary art. However, since its renovation in 2007, the museum in Paris’ Marais neighborhood has embedded installations and works of art in its stately space, a move which definitely lightens what could be very dated-feeling period rooms where stuffed bears and foxes rest alongside antique furniture and old oil paintings of hunting scenes.

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Resurrecting the Modernist Legacy of Designer Eileen Gray

PARIS — Eileen Gray designed furniture that didn’t so much inhabit as space as touch lightly on it. With discreet forms and minimalist waves that contrasted their industrial materials to the waning of Art Nouveau, the Irish designer quietly influenced the modernism that would guide architecture and design beyond the 1920s and 30s. Yet while her contemporaries like Le Corbusier and Marcel Breuer have their names as cemented in modernist history as their sturdy designs, Gray’s legacy has been less studied.