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Modern art

The realm of the senses, from Boucher to Greuze

90 min visit

Cognacq-Jay Museum
19 May → 18 Jul 2021
From Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

« L’amour, l’amour, l’amour, dont on parle toujours... »

The theme of love has always been the subject of numerous artistic representations. But in the 18th century, it took a completely different turn! Love is represented in a more realistic way, through intimate scenes where women with voluptuous forms are half-naked. This iconography is described as "licensive", in other words, frankly erotic! This can be explained by the desire of men of letters, philosophers and artists to free themselves, after the long and austere reign of Louis XIV, from all the constraints imposed by the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture - the highest artistic authority at the time. All pleasures are now put forward, starting with that of the flesh. The paintings took on a different form and no longer really corresponded to the expectations of the Academy: they were neither genre scenes nor history paintings; they often depicted fêtes galantes, country scenes that combined love, music, theatre and myth... Whether real or imaginary, these are scenes that leave the viewer completely free to interpret. It is difficult for us, 21st century spectators drowned by obscene images, to imagine the excitement (and scandal) that some of these works may have caused. And yet...! All this eroticism is announced in the title of the exhibition, which is none other than the literal translation of the title of the Japanese film "In the Realm of the Senses". Written and directed by Nagisa Ōshima, it is an erotic art film about the character of Sada, a servant and prostitute. On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the death of François Boucher, the exhibition traces a history of desire in modern art through the most daring paintings of the Rocaille master, as well as works by Watteau, Pater, Greuze or Fragonard. In all, some one hundred works (paintings, drawings and prints) from major international collections are brought together for this exceptional exhibition. A true ode to the eroticism and sensuality of the modern era!


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