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Paris Art Scene: Museums And Galleries Too Good To Miss

Fifteen million tourists will flood Paris this summer. Many visitors have art galleries and exhibitions on their minds. Here’s what’s hot on the Paris art scene

Paris Art Scene

If you are one of the millions headed to Paris this summer, Gilly Beal, a Uzès-based British artist, shares her “must-see” galleries with us. In a 3-part series, Gilly first reviews the Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris and its recent blockbuster Rothko show. In her next posts of the series, Gilly looks at what art lovers can see in Paris and in the sixteen cities with Olympic games.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris –

Where Art Meets Architecture

by Gilly Beal

Nestled in the iconic Bois de Boulogne lies the spectacular Louis Vuitton Foundation, a masterpiece of modern architecture designed by the renowned Frank Gehry. This impressive structure, constructed of gleaming glass, spans 12,000 square meters and is dedicated to the arts, offering exhibitions that dazzle and inspire a global audience.

Since opening its doors in 2014, the Foundation has become a pivotal venue for art exhibitions, hosting blockbuster events that draw visitors worldwide. I have been lucky enough to see “Olafur Eliasson: Contact,” “Inventing a New World: Charlotte Perriand,” and the captivating joint showcase of Joan Mitchell and Claude Monet.

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Mark Rothko Exhibition

The most recent exhibition at the Louie Vuitton Foundation, a retrospective of Mark Rothko which closed earlier this month, was stunning. As a fervent admirer of Rothko, I have spent many hours immersed in the introspective ambiance of the Rothko room at London’s Tate Modern, home to his Seagram murals. Initially commissioned for the upscale Four Seasons restaurant in New York’s Seagram Building, these murals were ultimately given to the Tate Gallery in 1969 after Rothko decided against their initial placement.

The Foundation’s recent exhibition marked France’s first major Rothko retrospective since 1999, showcasing over 115 works from global collections. The exhibition highlighted Rothko’s journey from his early figurative pieces through his wartime mythological and surreal works to his post-war multiforms and color-field paintings when he became part of the Abstract Expressionism movement.

Abstract Expressionism, the art movement that emerged in New York in the late 1940s and 1950s, emphasized expressive, abstract forms and bold use of color and non-traditional media. Rothko’s work is particularly noted for its use of large, luminous blocks of color that seem to float on the canvas, creating an immersive, emotional experience for the viewer.

His approach was less about depicting the physical world and more about conveying profound emotional truths. Rothko sought to evoke complex human emotions directly through his paintings, aiming for “the simple expression of the complex thought.”

Critics lauded the exhibition as “breathtaking,” noting how “Rothko’s work, with its enigmatic layers, transcends mere color, encouraging a transformative experience where art becomes a conduit for unspoken emotions.”

The retrospective brings together some 115 works from the most significant international institutional collections, including the National Gallery in of Art in Washington D.C., the Tate in London, and the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., and from international private collections, including the artist’s family collection.

What’s Next at the Foundation?

As Paris prepares to host the 2024 Olympics, the Louis Vuitton Foundation continues to enrich the cultural landscape. For anyone visiting Paris with sports-mad friends or family who would instead look at art than athletics, there are a couple of exhibitions worth visiting.

The upcoming “Ellsworth Kelly: Shapes and Colors, 1949-2015” exhibition, celebrating the centenary of Kelly’s birth, will be the first in France to provide an extensive overview of his work across various media.

Scheduled from May 4 to September 9, 2024, it will feature over 100 of Kelly’s works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and collages. Known for his independence from any specific art movement and his innovative contributions to 20th-century art, Kelly’s retrospective is poised to be a highlight of the summer.

Simultaneously, collaborating with New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Denmark, the Foundation will present “Matisse: The Red Studio.” This exhibition focuses on the genesis and history of Matisse’s 1911 masterpiece, showcasing the large canvas that depicts his studio filled with his works. This show reunites the pieces featured in “The Red Studio” for the first time since they left Matisse’s studio, providing a unique insight into the artist’s environment. Not to be missed.

Visiting Tips for the Louis Vuitton Foundation

If you are planning a visit to the Louis Vuitton Foundation, consider these tips to maximize your experience:

  • Buy Tickets in Advance: Avoid the queues by purchasing tickets online before your visit.
  • Lunch at Le Frank: For a culinary treat, go to the beautiful but straightforward Le Frank Restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Louis Nomicos. Ideally, book your exhibition entry time before noon to dodge the lunchtime rush. The menu is available from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Check for Special Events: Enhance your visit by attending one of the Foundation’s lectures, workshops, or artist talks, which offer deeper insights into the exhibitions.
  • Allocate Enough Time: Set aside at least half a day to fully appreciate everything the Foundation and its picturesque surroundings in the Jardin d’Acclimatation have to offer.
  • Architectural Tour: Explore the innovative design techniques Frank Gehry used to create this iconic building.


Musée d’Orsay

musee d'orsayLocated in the heart of Paris, the Musée d’Orsay is renowned for housing one of the world’s largest collections of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces. Art lovers can admire works by painters such as Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir. The museum is a converted Beaux-Arts railway station, adding a unique charm to any visit.

Centre Pompidou

For those interested in modern and contemporary art, the Centre Pompidou is an ideal destination. It features a high-tech architectural design and houses the National Museum of Modern Art, Europe’s largest museum for modern art. The Centre Pompidou showcases artworks and serves as a cultural hub with a vast public library, cinemas, and performance spaces. Enjoy the rooftop café with stunning views across the city.

centre pompido

Musée de l’Orangerie

Musée de l'OrangerieSituated in the picturesque Jardin des Tuileries, the Musée de l’Orangerie is home to Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” murals, among other impressionist and post-impressionist works. This more miniature, intimate museum offers a tranquil experience contrasting Paris’s bustling, more prominent museums.

Musée Rodin

Dedicated to the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin, the Musée Rodin is another gem. The museum is set in a charming mansion with a beautiful garden where many of Rodin’s most famous sculptures are displayed, including “The Thinker” and “The Gates of Hell.”

Musée Rodin


Paris Museum Map

How to Find Museums 

paris museum map


Stay tuned for upcoming shows at the Foundation and what art lovers can see in Paris during the Olympics.

Visit Gilly Beal’s site at

Day trip from Uzes to the Cevennes

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One Response

  1. During our current trip back to the U.S., my wife and I spent a day in Paris and visited both the Musée d’Orsay and de l’Orangerie. The latter was fun for its Monet murals and the “virtual immersion” experience, which enables you to view the murals in 3-D while leaning about their history in an entertaining way. But the real pièce de résistance was the Impressionist special exhibition at the d’Orsay, which takes you through the entire history of the movement: The collection is so vast and well presented that we spent several hours perusing it. Well worth the visit if you’re in Paris from now until July 14.

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