The exhibition gives viewers a unique opportunity to follow the transformation of portrait and landscape art from the 16th century to the modern age through works from the magnificent collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) in Nantes, France.
The Museum’s history began in September 1801 when the government issued a decree authorizing the creation of 15 museums in a number of French cities. The «Chaptal Decree» delivered «treasures won from the enemies of the Republic» to these museums. Since 1838 the museum has adhered to the policy defined by a decision of the City Council, which was above all to acquire works by modern masters (of the respective periods). For example, the Museum’s collection includes more than 2,000 works created from 1950 to 2010.
The goal of the exhibition is to show the transformation that traditional genres like portrait and landscape art have undergone by discovering their «traces» in the art of the latter third of the 20th century and the early 21st century. Both works of classical art and works of the first half of the 20th century that shattered the entrenched conceptual and compositional formulas of portrait and landscape art were chosen as starting points and reference models.
The exhibition consists of two independent shows that at the same time are inseparable from one another. The history of the portrait genre began with works of the 16th century, while that of the landscape genre began with the classical landscapes of the 17th century.
Works of old masters include portraits by Tintoretto and Jean-Baptiste Greuze, and landscapes by Jean-Jacques de Boissieu, Herman van Swanevelt, Paul Sérusier, Raoul Dufy, and others. The exhibits consists mainly of paintings, graphic art, photographs and video installations of contemporary artists, including Vito Acconci, Marina Abramovich, Gerhard Richter, Marcial Reis, Gilbert and George, John Baldessari, Douglas Gordon, Fabrice Hybert, Rosemarie Trockel, Pierre Huyghe, and Anri Sala, among others.