en Normandie

Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux

The exhibition highlights the decisive role played by Normandy in the early days of photography

Claude MONET Mer agitée à Etretat MBA Lyon N17-786

The exhibition highlights the decisive role played by Normandy in the early days of photography. To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Impressionism, MuMa is bringing together painting and photography, whose close links, underpinned by a spirit of invention, emulation and innovation, led to the revival and proliferation of images in the 19th century.

Masterpieces of painting and photography are juxtaposed, from the pioneers to the greatest names and amateurs alike. Impressionist works from MuMa’s own collections rub shoulders with five major paintings on loan from the Musée d’Orsay, including a sublime piece from Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series, paintings on loan from the museums of fine art in Amiens and Lyon (Boudin, Courbet, Jongkind, Dubourg, Monet, Pissarro, etc.) and photographs by Bayard, Breton, Coulon, Fizeau, Macaire, Le Gray, Le Secq, Ruskin, Talbot, Warnod et al.

From the 1840s onwards, Normandy was the ideal place to appreciate the reciprocal influence of the arts. Photography recorded a rich heritage, the fragility and importance of which we can now appreciate; it kept pace with the transformation of the coastline through seaside architecture and the arrival of wealthy summer visitors; it sought out the picturesque countryside; and it tackled genre scenes and maritime views, clearly asserting its artistic ambitions.

The exhibition explores the following themes in turn: Normandy, the motherland of photography and a place for inventors; the development of instant photography in Le Havre on the north jetty; seascapes, seaside views and harbour views; monumental heritage; the appeal of the regional picturesque; portraits, genre scenes, fairs and markets; events, urban transformations and major public works.

Essential partners 

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France, a valued and loyal partner for MuMa’s exhibitions, has strengthened its presence with the loan of almost 50 works, along with the scientific curatorship of the Director of the Prints and Photography Department, Sylvie Aubenas.

The exhibition also draws on the often little-known wealth of public collections in Normandy (Departmental Archives and municipal libraries), the Société Française de Photographie and the generosity of private collectors in Paris and Normandy.

Exhibition curators 

Sylvie Aubenas – General Curator, Director of the Department of Prints and Photography at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and specialist in 19th-century photography.

Benoît Eliot – Publisher, graphic designer and photographer, managing director of Octopus Editions, specialising in art and photography books.

Dominique Rouet – Archivist paleographer, general curator of libraries, director of public reading and access to knowledge for the city of Le Havre.

Contemporary counterpoint As a counterpoint to the exhibition, MuMa is hosting a collaborative installation by Un Été Au Havre and Grégory Chatonsky, a Franco-Canadian artist and pioneer of Netart and AI. The artist’s voice, synthesised by Artificial Intelligence, is used to describe and analyse the 25,000 postcard images he created and distributed in the summer of 2023. To train the AI, the artist fed it critical and historical texts on the history of art and photography

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