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Paris celebrates spring with pharaohs, fashion and surrealism: This season’s must-see exhibitions
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Paris celebrates spring with pharaohs, fashion and surrealism: This season’s must-see exhibitions

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the tables are full at Paris’s trademark café terraces. Spring has clearly sprung in the French capital and, after being kept away for almost two full years as a result of the pandemic, tourists have returned in droves. Paris is ready to welcome them back with a tantalising array of pharaohs, fashion, feminists, surrealists and Peruvian treasure. Here is a selection of the most anticipated art exhibitions in Paris over the coming months.

1 – Pharaoh of the Two Lands, Louvre Museum (April 28 – July 25)

Already famous for its glass pyramid, The Louvre Museum is taking its fondness for all things Egyptian even further with a major exhibition devoted to Pharaoh Taharqa, former king of Napata, the ancient capital of a vast kingdom in Nubia, located in what is now northern Sudan.

In roughly 730 BC, Nubian King Piankhy conquered Egypt and founded the 25th Dynasty of Kushite kings, who ruled for more than 50 years over a kingdom stretching from the Nile Delta to the confluence of the White and Blue Niles. The most famous of those kings is the Pharaoh Taharqa.

Telling the story of the kings of Napata, the exhibition focuses on the leading role of this historical figure and of his vast kingdom, which is today located in the centre of Sudan. An incredible collection of statues and other works of art will immerse you in a history that dates back several millennia.

A sculpture from the Pharaoh Taharqa exhibition at the Louvre from April 28 – July 25. © Louvre Museum

2 – Gaudí, Musée d’Orsay (April 12 – July 17)

Escape to Barcelona by entering the extraordinary Art Nouveau world of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí at the first major Paris exhibition devoted to him in 50 years. In this immersive show, you will discover the architect’s studio, his innovative working techniques, his collaborators and his grandiose projects.

Seven of Gaudí’s architectural creations are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO; a recognition of the genius of a man who changed the face of Catalonia at a time when social and political upheavals were pushing artists to innovate and evolve.

Drawings, models and furniture that has never been displayed in France before will offer an insight into the monumental world of this unique artist as he built up to his major works, from parks to palaces, including the Güell park and palace, the Casa Milà and, of course, the unmissable Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Antoni Gaudí’s celebrated Sagrada Familia, pictured on September 16, 2020 in Barcelona. © Paul Barrena, AFP

3 – Yves Saint Laurent at six Paris museums (until May 15)

Although museums sometimes collaborate to organise a major exhibition, it is very rare that six of them work together to put on one giant exhibition. The Centre Pompidou, the Louvre Museum, the Musée d’art moderne, the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée National Picasso-Paris and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris present Yves Saint Laurent at the Museums, an exhibition that spans these art institutions in Paris.

A creation by Yves Saint Laurent on show in the Louvre until May 15. © Stéphane de Sakutin, AFP

On January 29, 1962, at the age of 26, the young Yves Saint Laurent presented his first personal collection. It was an exceptional fashion show that propelled him to the ranks of major fashion designers, where he would remain until his death in 2008. To mark the 60th anniversary of his first catwalk show, each museum is highlighting the designer’s links with French art and public collections.

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