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Aristide Maillol through the eyes of the French painter Catherine Viollet

The Fondation Dina Vierny – Musée Maillol is pleased to be loaning two works to the Galerie Loeve&Co for the exhibition “Aristide Maillol & Catherine Viollet”, from December 8th 2022 to January 14th 2023.

Catherine Viollet and Aristide Maillol

In 1981, the historic exhibition “Finir en beauté” organised by Bernard Lamarche-Vadel revealed a group of artists who were unknown up until that time. They had a common taste for a garish, unbridled and playful style of painting and incorporated the art of comics, advertising, street art and pop art, thus distancing themselves from the severity of the conceptual art of the 1970s. These artists; Jean-Michel Alberola, Jean-Charles Blais, Rémi Blanchard, François Boisrond, Robert Combas, Jean-François Maurige, Hervé di Rosa and Catherine Viollet, formed the “Figuration libre”. Among them, Catherine Viollet was the only woman to participate in the exhibition and presented an original approach. The artist explored the classical aspects of the urban world through the work of Maillol – inndeed, it was while walking through the Carrousel Gardens that she discovered the modernity of the sculptor and drew her inspiration from it. The exhibition thus sheds light on Catherine Viollet’s relationship with Maillol.
Catherine Viollet devant « La Rivière d’Aristide Maillol » au Jardin des Tuileries en 1983 | © Catherine Viollet
Catherine Violet in front of “La Rivière d’aristides Maillol” in the Jardin des Tuileries in 1983 © Catherine Violet
Catherine Viollet, La Rivière Maillol dessin juillet 1982
Catherine Viollet, « La Rivière », juillet 1982 , mine de plomb sur papier Ingres, 15×16 cm | © Catherine Viollet

Neither artist aims at a precise representation of the model nor do they abandon its image. Instead, they draw from it an abstraction of its form and seek a balanced harmony. Catherine Viollet places Maillol’s « classical » female form in a moving and colourful universe. The exhibition « La Trêve des Héroïnes » in 1983 at the Galerie Christian Cheneau was the first presentation of her series inspired by the works of Maillol, with the character of Dina Vierny as an echo who represented for Viollet an embodied heroine.

Catherine Viollet, Dina, 1983, acrylique
Catherine Viollet, “Dina”, 1983, acrylic on red skai, 200×154 cm | © Catherine Viollet
Maillol, Dina au foulard, 1941, peinture
Aristide Maillol, “Dine with scarf”, 1941, oil on panel, 110×95 cm, Foundation Dina Vierny – Musée Maillol

Maillol in the 20th Century

The exhibition also invites us to revisit Maillol’s work through the prism of the 20th century. The inclusion of Deux Baigneuses ou Dina de dos et de profil (Two Bathers or Dina in Profile and Back) (1938) is a reminder that the sculptor was also a painter. In this painting, Maillol arranges two bathers face to face who, through an ambiguous staging, give the impression of being a person contemplating their own otherness. Somewhere between a studio exercise and a plastic proposal on the equivocation of forms, the painting is characteristic of Maillol’s pictorial research in the 1930s, when he multiplied the appearances of his muse Dina Vierny in his painted spaces.

Vue salle exposition Galerie Loeve&Co
View of the exhibition “Aristide Maillol & Catherine Viollet” at Galerie Loeve&Co, left Aristide Maillol, “Deux baigneuses ou Dina de dos et de profil”, 1938, oil on panel, 100 x140 cm, Fondation Dina Vierny – Musée Maillol, view of the exhibition | © Galerie Loeve&Co

The bronze Harmonie (c. 1940-1944) occupies a special place in Maillol’s work as it is his last sculpture, which remains unfinished. It is the last example of the collaboration between Dina Vierny and Maillol, who spent several years trying to give shape to his vision by studying the model. He wished to create a work different from those he had made up to that point, preserving the usual «immobility » of his sculpture while simultaneously introducing « movement » into it. It is the figure’s legs that provide the slight dynamic impulse of the sculpture as a whole, forming a tiny contrapposto, a rare element in the artist’s sculptural work. A sort of  «modern Venus de Milo», the sculpture became Maillol’s artistic testament, and the title «Harmony», posthumously suggested by the American art critic John Rewald, was finally established, summing up the whole quest of Maillol’s art.

Vue salle exposition Galerie Loeve&Co
View of the exhibition “Aristide Maillol & Catherine Viollet” at the Galerie Loeve&Co, in the centre Aristide Maillol “Harmonie”, c. 1940-1944, bronze, 162 cm, Fondation Dina Vierny – Musée Maillol | © Galerie Loeve&Co
"Racoff" at the Musée Maillol in Banyuls-sur-Mer

Find out more about our current exhibtion : Andres Serrano. Portraits of America

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Mentions légales | CGU | Données personnelles | Gestion des cookies

Musée Maillol, 2021

Mentions légales | CGU | Données personnelles | Gestion des cookies

Musée Maillol, 2021

Musée Maillol, 2021