- Exhibitions & activities
- Ker-Xavier Roussel. Private Garden, Dreamed Garden
For the first time in France since 1968, a major retrospective is dedicated to Ker-Xavier Roussel. Roussel was a painter apart, who entered the history of art among the Nabis and whose modernity goes against the XXth century. From July 27 to November 11, 2019, the musée des impressionnismes Giverny presents a surprising journey, composed largely of unpublished paintings.
A career start within the Nabis group
Friend and brother-in-law of Édouard Vuillard, Ker-Xavier Roussel remained in the shadow of the painters of the Nabis group, which he joined after having rejected his academic training. During this period, he is puzzled in the face of the precepts of Paul-Élie Ranson and Paul Sérusier, around whom the group was formed. His Nabie works evoke at the same time the painting styles of Édouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. His experience of synthetism is distinguished by an elegant rigor in his compositions and a great sobriety of tones. From the end of the 1890s, he broke away from everyday life and his painting evolved towards a dream world, filled with characters from Greek and Roman mythology.
A mythological painting, inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche and Ovid
Abandoning the small formats that characterize his Nabi period, Ker-Xavier Roussel then composed vast mythological narratives: celebrations of the seasons, the myth of abundance or even dance. The influence of Friedrich Nietzsche, whose first French translations Roussel read in 1892, can be perceived in all of his works. Indeed, the exuberance specific to the philosopher’s ideas permeates the processions of Bacchus, the groups of nymphs and satyrs crossing the landscapes dreams of the painter. At the heart of the serenity of the Arcadian landscapes, a powerful eroticism emerges from the scenes painted by Ker-Xavier Roussel, who evoke Ovid. From the fables of the Latin poet, the painter has indeed retained the subtle mixture of rural atmosphere and sexual desire, which thus gives a double meaning to his works.
Melancholy, violence and despair
This exhibition also presents a graphic art cabinet which will not fail to challenge the visitor, as it contrasts with the cheerfulness, vitality and colorful universe of the rest of the artist’s production. There, everything is only dramas and black legends, revealing the depressive episodes from which the artist suffers. This selection of inks on paper and pastels testify to all the graphic virtuosity of Ker-Xavier Roussel.
The last part of the exhibition celebrates Ker-Xavier Roussel’s talent as a decorator. Visitors are introduced to very large formats, while the scenes reveal a very particular aspect of the artist’s work: the representation of mythological scenes in the midst of everyday landscapes. Thus, the countryside of Yvelines, around Marly, serves as a backdrop. While Claude Monet depicts his garden at Giverny in his famous representations of water lilies and Japanese bridges, Ker-Xavier Roussel places his characters in his garden at Étang-la-Ville.
This exhibition thus presents around a hundred works by Ker-Xavier Roussel, paying homage to his nabies experiments, his mythological representations, his decorative power and his graphic delicacy.
Curator: Mathias Chivot, art historian and author of the Ker-Xavier Roussel catalog.
This exhibition is organized by the musée des impressionnismes Giverny with the exceptional support of the musée d’Orsay.
Zoom on the works
Our patrons and partners
The museum warmly thanks the patrons and partners of this exhibition.
and the sea
from March 29, 2024 to June 30, 2024