Friday Heirloom 2019

Friday Heirloom 103: Exhibition “Le Modèle Noir” at Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Check out the Highlights of May here

What a wonderful world… 


Main hall of the Musée d’Orsay

Entering Musée d’Orsay, one can’t help but notice the big flat screens at the end of the corridor, which display the names of prominent and contemporary black art figures in Paris.

Yes, you feel something is moving, finally and in the right direction, although with very small steps. As we know, people of color have traditionally been excluded from the art and cultural scenes until very recently. I was glad, therefore, to see that also the new exhibition at the museum was placing people of color at its very center.


The End of Slavery by François-Auguste Biard

“Black models: from Géricault to Matisse” exposes the visitor to a new type of art, one that puts at its core an underrepresented group: black models.



Portrait de Madeleine by Marie-Guillemine Benoist

Focusing on three key events (the abolition of slavery in France in 1794, the era of New Painting from the mid-19th century with artists of the caliber of Manet, Degas et Cézanne and the early 20th century avant-gardes), this exhibition offers a new perspective on the contribution of people of color to art history.


Study After Model “Joseph” by Théodore Chassériau

It’s important to focus on the different, potential meanings of the word “model”,  seen both as an “artist’s model” and a figure to imitate. It’s true that many men and women of color crossed paths with artists and forged relationships with them; what seems missing is their representation. Therefore this exhibition explores their identity, trying to position them in a more appropriate context in regards to their names and their stories.

Here a few favorites from the exhibition:


Black models: bronzes


I love this sitting nude (study after a feminine model) by an anonymous painter


Study after a feminine model by Jean-Léon Gérôme 


Woman carrying wheat and a basket of fruit by Eugène Faure


Standing by beautiful Laure and Olympia, Édoard Manet


Édgar Degas, Miss Lala at the Fernando Circus


Elephant by Jean Dunand


IMG_5127.JPG.JPGPeople of color in theatre, dance and shows


I loved the different representations of Aïcha


Asia by Henri Matisse


Black woman with blue dress, Miguel Covarrubias


Olympia in black by Larry Rivers

To learn more about this spectacular exhibition, please click here. And of course don’t miss it if you’re in Paris!

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