Courbet & Pei-Ming

OK you mob, time to refresh our spirits with a cultcha pause, after all the polemical pondering and ongoing scorching of the Wide Brown Land to black.

During a recent Paris sojourn your KC arts correspondent was fortunate to see an original exhibition at the Petit Palais of paintings by two artists separated by 150 years: Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) and Yann Pei-Ming.

The exhibition subtitle in French is corps à corps, often translated as hand to hand in a combat context. In this case face-to-face makes most sense to me, as this is what Pei-Ming attempts in this homage: a ‘conversation’ between his huge (and smaller) portraits and those of the 19th century realist master he admires.

Living in France since 1980, Pei-Ming was allowed to use Courbet’s old studio at Ornans (eastern France) to paint his giant portraits. I managed to photograph and video the video of him at work there, smoking a fat cigar and commenting on his progress. 

The exhibition has about ten paintings by Gustave and fifteen by Yann, so it’s not a long conversation, but it’s wonderfully intense and shown to advantage in the huge spaces of the Petit Palais. It’s been extended to January 20, so drop by if you can. Otherwise, enjoy here.

And coming soon for art lovers, more on Courbet and an amazing detective story.

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