Alice Neel @ Centre Pompidou Metz

Painting the Night
From 13th October 2018 to 15th April 2019

Centre Pompidou Metz

The topic of night has infiltrated current debates concerning society (should we open shops at night or preserve that time for sleep?), the environment (how can we limit night light pollution which prevents us from seeing the stars and impacts natural life?), politics (the French “Nuit Debout” movement, clandestine nightly border crossings), science (we are constantly furthering our knowledge of the phenomenon).

Night-time, and the many questions it prompts, has haunted artists particularly since the late 19th century. Thanks to such ground-breaking discoveries as electrification and lighting, psychoanalysis and the advent of the space age the night has evolved, transforming us in turn: theories have consequently been completely reviewed changing our relationship to the night-tide.

From 13 October 2018 to 15 April 2019, Centre Pompidou-Metz is hosting an important exhibition featuring the night in modern and contemporary painting along with a catalogue and a wealth of associated events.

A prominent source of inspiration in the history of art, the night continues to offer a rich field of investigation. Revisiting such a vast topic spawns numerous profound interrogations on our condition and our place in the Universe and the role Art could play.

Though at first the idea might seem paradoxical, Painting the Night (Peindre la nuit in french) is in fact heavy with meaning. The title is voluntarily ambiguous for night painting could either mean representing the night or painting at night. Painting the dark or in the dark, a choice has to be made either to improve one’s night vision or on the contrary to abandon seeing altogether. Indeed it is at night that we can, both physically and symbolically, at last “disconnect from the world”— a typically modern aspiration. Actually, twilight would be a perfect metaphor for the elusive boundary between figuration and abstraction.

With a focus on the perception of night rather than its iconography, the exhibition intends to be, in fact, a nocturnal experience: as visitors weave their way in they become night-owls, the heady atmosphere of nightlife takes its hold teasing the senses, stirring the inner self inducing cosmic vertigo. One steps into the exhibition as one would step out into the night.

In keeping with the spirit of Centre Pompidou-Metz exhibitions, this show is not limited exclusively to paintings, though these are central, for parallels and resonances are established with, for instance, music and literature, as well as video and photography. The event groups about a hundred artists and historical figures (Winslow Homer, Francis Bacon, Anna-Eva Bergman, Louise Bourgeois, Brassaï, Helen Frankenthaler, Paul Klee, Lee Krasner, Henri Michaux, Joan Mitchell, Amédée Ozenfant, etc.) and contemporary artists (Etel Adnan, Charbel-joseph H. Boutros, Ann Craven, Peter Doig, Jennifer Douzenel, Rodney Graham, Martin Kippenberger, Paul Kneale, Olaf Nicolai, Gerhard Richter, etc.) as well as a number of spectacular installations, some of which were created especially for the project (Harold Ancart, Raphaël Dallaporta, Spencer Finch, Daisuke Yokota, Navid Nuur, etc.).

Curator: Jean-Marie Gallais, head of exhibitions, Centre Pompidou-Metz
Research and Exhibition Officer : Alexandra Muller