Sarah West: Parisian Belle Epoque Retrospective

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I placed the album and a box of note cards on the shop counter, at Third Man Records. “Paris 1900. The Petit Palais Exhibition at the Frist,” was my response to the shop girl who asked “what brings you to Nashville?” She expressed delight and surprise remarking that she seldom hears anyone say they are visiting the Music City for art.

The art inspired continued conversation as another store clerk bagged my latest Loretta Lynn vinyl. It was a wintery November day. An icy wind came blowing in from the Northwest. Droves of Patriot football fans descended upon the city. Lines stretched beyond the sidewalks of Broadway honkytonks, and locally-famed barbeque joints. A short walk beyond the music venues, celebrity-owned bars and street corner buskers, the Frist provides space for those seeking another kind of cultural experience.




Louis Abel-Truchet, Victor Dargaud, Rene Lelong and Camille Piton are just a few of the artists represented in this retrospective celebration of Parisian Belle Epoque. The influences of industrial revolution, theatre and society transfuse this exhibition with the glamour of Victorian age gilt and Gilded Age rebellion, through which new traditions were established.  Sublime impressionism, forward Art Nouveau, and classique romanticism anchor collections saturated in past, with a progressive grip, as it were, upon the modern present.  A fascination with the controversial, charges the carnivale-style commercial posters. They stimulate the senses as well as the appetite for decadence, just as they did in Paris 1900. Iconic artifacts such as the outrageous Sarah Bernhart’s costume, Toulouse-Lautrec advertisements, Paris World’s Fair memorabilia, sculptures by Rodin and Tiffany, and studies by Alfons Mucha compliment the equally revered works by contemporaries of the more popularly known.

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment, a current exhibition hosted by the Frist Art Museum is organized by the Petit Palais Museum of Fine Arts, with loans from the Musee Carnavalet, History of Paris and the Palais Galleria Museum of Fashion, Paris Musees. This exhibition closes January 6th, 2019. Visit FristArtMuseum.org for more information.

Art is life expressed – Sarah West, Owner of The Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art