Monumental Art: A new exhibition lends a certain “je ne sais pas” to the New Orleans art world.
While brilliant soldier-statesmen and legendary conqueror Napoléon Bonaparte might not have been big in stature, he certainly was big on influence. He was one of the Western world’s most powerful leaders and one of its greatest patrons of the arts. Following his meteoric rise to power, a new age of decorative and fine arts was born that validated his reign. A new comprehensive exhibition at M.S. Rau Gallery — Napoléon: General. Emperor. Legend — which showcases some of the best Napoléonic art and design, is now on view through Jan. 7.
Following the tumultuous era of the Revolution, Napoléon commissioned artists, designers and architects as a way to promote and legitimize his reign, and to cultivate an image of power. The exhibition explores the Empire style through more than 50 examples of furniture and decorative arts, as well as paintings, sculpture, manuscripts and documents, that together fashion an imperial iconography of Napoléon. From a monumental masterwork of Napoléon before the Battle of Moscow by Joseph Franque and an original bronze death mask of Napoléon to one-of-a-kind Empire furniture and decor, the exhibition offers an intriguing glimpse into the intimate life and legacy of an important historical figure. 630 Royal St., (504) 523-5660, rauantiques.com
A Look Inside: A new exhibition delves into the artistic mind of renowned Louisiana photographer Clarence John Laughlin.
Now on view through March 25, Clarence John Laughlin and His Contemporaries: A Picture and a Thousand Words spotlights one of the most significant artists in New Orleans history. A Louisiana native and a pioneer in experimental and surrealist photography, Laughlin (1905-1985) created some of the most unusual and well-known images of any Louisiana photographer (inspired by the symbolic, fantastic and macabre). He insisted that living in New Orleans isolated him, physically and ideologically, from the cosmopolitan art world, but his massive collection of letters and photographs that he traded with his artistic peers (such as Imogen Cunningham, Wynn Bullock, Edward Weston, Carlotta Corpron and Brassaï) tells otherwise. Through this free exhibition of more than 250 letters and images, visitors will have an opportunity to discover the enigmatic photographer (and draw their own conclusions) via a fascinating visual story.
The exhibition will occupy two gallery spaces: The Historic New Orleans Collection’s Williams Research Center (410 Chartres St.), and its Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art (400 Chartres St.). (504) 523-4662, hnoc.org
Stroke of Genius: A new exhibition at New Orleans Museum of Art places impressionism at center stage.
Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection will feature 39 masterpieces from a variety of artists in order to explore the evolution of European and American landscape painting over the past 400 years. The exhibition spotlights masterworks from Brueghel to Canaletto, Cezanne and Gustav Klimt to Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper and John Hockney. The show will also feature five Monet landscapes. These paintings — all from the collection of Paul G. Allen, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist — have never been displayed together publicly before. As such, this exhibition offers a look at how artists working in a variety of styles have interpreted landscape painting over the past four centuries. A highlight of the show is “Birch Forest,” a rare landscape (1903) by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. It is the first time that a work by Klimt has been on view at NOMA. 1 Collins Diboll Circle, (504) 658-4100, noma.org