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Contemporary counterpoint 6. Isabelle Cornaro, The interval of images

2 June – 6 September 2021

Landscape painting has been one of the major genres of Western painting since the beginning of the modern era, a period which Isabelle Cornaro made her specialty during her studies. Since then, she has worked in parallel with video, the environment, sculpture, painting and scenography, all of which offer her multiple possibilities for analyzing and revealing the structure and composition of representations in her works.

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Isabelle Cornaro, Blue Spill, solo show, MRAC, Sérignan 2018. Courtesy the artist and Balice Hertling, photo Annick Wetter.

Near Claude Monet’s Water Lilies and in the Contemporary room, she presents two new and specific pieces that echo the immediate presence of the paintings of the old master of Giverny and the elliptical spaces that he himself had conceived. Cornaro's Sequences are the result of cuts made in large compositions comprised of single-block bas-relief castings of various objects, both banal and iconic. The artist conceives them as the partial framing of an overall image, at once inside and outside the camera frame of the following sequence, which presents differences and repetitions. She thereby composes an interrupted panorama by adopting a cinematographic movement. This process of "reframing" underlines the ambiguous relationship between object and image.

Investigating what interests the eye beyond the particularities and the different modalities of expression, she conceived for the Contemporary room of the Musée de l'Orangerie an installation that is part of the series of Paysages [Landscapes], freely adapted from the classical pastorals. Monet had invented an original and innovative formula of the landscape by painting his masterpiece Water Lilies, and by imagining its presentation as a form of immersive installation – the first of its kind. Cornaro, following this example, interprets tradition through the prism of minimal art and the presentation of collections of objects that she selects, classifies and orders. "The vocabulary of the exhibition (cyma, column, pedestal, platform)," she observes, "is indexed to the geometry and abstraction of the perspective grid – a schematic reduction of an ideal space –, which appeared at the beginning of European expansionism. The ready-made objects, most often representative of different moments and economies of European culture, function as much as formal elements in an abstract whole, as they do as figures.”

Isabelle Cornaro, after studying art history and art training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the Royal College of Arts in London, was awarded the Ricard Prize in 2010. She has shown her work regularly (Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw, South London Gallery, Kunsthalle Bern, etc.) and has also been invited to design theater sets on several occasions.

Avec le généreux soutien de la société des American Friends of the Musées d’Orsay et de l'Orangerie.