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By Michel Laclotte

An paintings international insider offers a witty and penetrating account of 50 years on the heart of overseas culture.

Art historian, curator, and museum director Michel Laclotte has been on the leading edge of French cultural existence during the last part century. This casual autobiography sheds gentle on his really good occupation with heat and directness. Highlights comprise two decades as leader curator of portray and sculpture on the Musée du Louvre, heading the staff that created the Musée dOrsay, and taking the reins of the Louvre to guide the trouble that culminated within the museums transformation into the “Grand Louvre,” one of many worlds preeminent cultural attractions.

Raising the curtain on fifty years of Western paintings scholarship, intrigue, and success, Laclotte introduces a unprecedented solid of characters who set Frances cultural course within the postwar interval from Charles de Gaulle and André Malraux within the Fifties to François Mitterand within the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties. His tale overlaps with almost each significant scholarly determine in French artwork background of the final half-century, in addition to Laclottes mentors and co-workers all through and past Europe, from Roberto Longhi and Anthony Blunt to Sir John Pope-Hennessy and Millard Meiss. An incomparable testomony to a interval of seismic swap within the museum international, this quantity may be crucial analyzing for artwork international afficianados and all scholars of artwork and smooth culture.

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Our great references at the time were Malraux, as I’ve said, Aragon for his novels, François Mauriac, and Jean Giraudoux. I particularly liked Roger Martin du Gard, and I’ve developed more of a fondness for him since the publication of his diaries. Proust, of course, read straight through, like War and Peace. And then Conrad, and Americans such as Hemingway, Dos Passos, especially Faulkner, and also Henry Miller. As I said, nothing very original here, other than an enormous appetite, a taste—which still persists—for literary history: literature that tells its own story, if I may put it that way.

The first translations of Panofsky did not appear until the early 1960s. Still, even though I’m glad the great texts have been translated and are widely available, it’s not as if they were written in Bantu! A French art historian could read them in the original, if the need or desire was great enough—which is what I did, particularly for Panofsky’s writings on the Quattrocento and the Flemish primitives. Many of the great authors fleeing the Nazis had joined art schools in the United States and Britain.

I had been encouraged in this by Jean Adhémar, whom my mother had known during the war when she worked as an archivist for the Ministry for Overseas Territories, where he was engaged in a cataloguing project. A paleographer with an original mind, he had attended the Warburg Institute in London before the war. He advised me that if I wanted to get a job in museums, I should become a paleographer as well. I was especially influenced by the example of Sylvie Béguin, who was several years older than I.

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A Key to the Louvre by Michel Laclotte

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