By Michel Laclotte
Art historian, curator, and museum director Michel Laclotte has been on the leading edge of French cultural lifestyles over the last part century. This casual autobiography sheds mild on his impressive profession with heat and directness. Highlights comprise two decades as leader curator of portray and sculpture on the Musée du Louvre, heading the group that created the Musée dOrsay, and taking the reins of the Louvre to steer the trouble that culminated within the museums transformation into the “Grand Louvre,” one of many worlds preeminent cultural attractions.
Raising the curtain on fifty years of Western paintings scholarship, intrigue, and success, Laclotte introduces a rare solid of characters who set Frances cultural course within the postwar interval from Charles de Gaulle and André Malraux within the Nineteen Fifties to François Mitterand within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties. His tale overlaps with nearly each significant scholarly determine in French artwork background of the final half-century, in addition to Laclottes mentors and associates all through and past Europe, from Roberto Longhi and Anthony Blunt to Sir John Pope-Hennessy and Millard Meiss. An incomparable testomony to a interval of seismic switch within the museum global, this quantity could be crucial interpreting for artwork global afficianados and all scholars of artwork and sleek culture.
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Extra info for A Key to the Louvre
His method was to demonstrate, convince, prove by making stylistic comparisons of images and backing up his statements with written documents and archival sources. As such, he left his mark on me. He set about drawing artists’ works out of oblivion (which for him meant anonymity or false attribution) like, as he said, a hunter in the darkness of the Middle Ages and reintroducing them into the light of history next to works that were already known—which were themselves constantly reexamined. And he succeeded.
We were frustrated by the unavailability of American films, our interest having been whetted by a friend who had seen some in Switzerland, especially Fantasia and Gone with the Wind. It was also difficult to see much art, since most of the museums were closed. Still, I was able to view the monumental sculptures at the Louvre, which they hadn’t been able to evacuate, notably the winged bulls from Khorsabad. I also have another “artistic” memory, from what must have been the summer of 1942, at the Bellou manor in Normandy.
In and remarks made during various symposia on the Baroque—which at the time was differentiated from Classicism, and not applied to all artistic creation of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as it is today—provided a change from strict scholasticism and helped illuminate the general history of creative styles and methods. These men were excellent art historians and good teachers, but looking back, I would say they lacked the cross-cultural breadth of a Focillon, who had been one of the school’s great masters before the war, or the richness of information and method that one could find at the Courtauld Institute in London.