Scenery - A window to the world at the Louvre Lens Museum


The exhibition is a statement about how scenery has been linked to the satellite museum’s history since it was built in an old mining region marked by 19thcentury industrialisation. The exhibition was therefore designed as an element intended to transform its surroundings while keeping the memory intact. 10 years on, the modern museum is part of a stunning, 54-acre landscaped park which helps visitors observe mankind’s position regarding surroundings and well as promote conservation. To put the exhibition together, curator Marie Lavandier focused on the production stages of painted scenery by Nicolas Poussin, Canaletto, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Hokusai, Hiroshige, Camille Corot, John Martin, Catherine Empis, George Sand, Frederic Church, Jean-François Millet, Claude Monet, Vassily Kandinsky, Georgia O'Keeffe, Nicolas de Staël and Joan Mitchell. The works remind us that paintings of scenery are based on two main metaphors, 15th century Alberti’s fenestra aperta, - the "window to the outside" and to history – and the creation of the world which, from the artist’s point of view, becomes his own universe.

Artists were like divine beings in some respects, never producing a completely true representation of nature (like a photograph does) yet offering a created vision through positioning elements (trees, rocks, sky, etc.), using different perspectives (i.e. Japanese artist Hiroshige’s perspectives were very different from French artist Corot’s during the same period), light and seasons to create the illusion of passing time. Artists could also make pure and independent versions of nature or use it as background for historical and mythological themes. The works on show range from the 15th century Renaissance period when this notion of ‘the artist, the creator of a personal universe’, emerged, up to the 20th century when nature was often reinvented in spiritual, abstract and lyrical fashions. Kandinsky, Georgia O’Keeffe and Joan Mitchell did not follow any of these rules for their more interior and emotional works.  

Modern artist Louis Pernot wanted to make the exhibition to feel like a metamorphosis of nature and painting and his scenography achieves this perfectly: starting with a sound, space and visual ballet to plunge visitors into pre-civilisation scenery - an extremely poetic introduction to the visit. He has successfully created an immersive and sensorial experience close to nature. Before going back to the hotel just opposite the museum, we recommend taking the time to continue the natural scenery theme by exploring the surrounding park.