The must-see exhibitions in Paris in 2021

In the current context, art and culture have never seemed so important to us. Nothing beats a trip to the museum to learn, stimulate the imagination or simply daydream. From the great masters to fashion icons and from modern art to popular cinema, the French capital is offering a selection of fascinating exhibitions for 2021. Support culture and enjoy!

'Matisse: like a novel' at the Centre Pompidou

Until 22 February 2021

To mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, the Centre Pompidou is paying tribute to Matisse through this exhibition exploring the links between image and text. Exhibiting iconic works including drawings, paintings, sculptures and illustrated books, it echoes the book 'Henri Matisse, Roman' published by Louis Aragon in 1971 and gives a new interpretation of this "life lived for art".

'Matisse: like a novel' at the Centre Pompidou (External link)

'Turner' at the Musée Jacquemart-André

Until 11 January 2021

In collaboration with London's Tate Britain, the Musée Jacquemart-André is hosting a retrospective of the work of Turner, a leading figure in the Golden Age of English watercolour. It explores his creative evolution, from realistic beginnings to mature works, filled with light and transparency. Visitors can admire 60 watercolours and 10 oil paintings.

'Turner' at the Musée Jacquemart-André (External link)

'Cézanne and the Masters: Italian Dream' at the Musée Marmottan Monet

Until 3 January 2021

In an unprecedented way, the Marmottan Monet Museum has chosen to put Cézanne's work into perspective in the light of masterpieces by the greatest Italian masters from the 16th to the 19th century. The Montagne Sainte-Victoire and a number of still lifes are on display alongside a selection of old (Tintoretto, Le Greco, Poussin) or modern (Carrà, Sironi, Pirandello, Morandi) paintings. They show how the Aix-born painter was inspired by his predecessors but also how he influenced Italian artists.

'Cézanne and the Masters: Italian Dream' at the Musée Marmottan Monet (External link)

'Man Ray and Fashion' at the Musée du Luxembourg

Until 17 January 2021

With this exhibition, the Musée du Luxembourg is keen to show an unknown side of Man Ray: his activity as a fashion photographer. Arriving in Paris into avant-garde spheres in the 1920s, he began to work with great designers (Poiret, Schiaparelli and Chanel) as well as fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar. With his modern and daring aesthetic, he helped develop and define contemporary fashion photography.

'Man Ray and Fashion' at the Musée du Luxembourg (External link)

'PasséPrésent', a Sarah Moon retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne

Until 10 January 2021

Staying in the world of fashion, Paris' Museum of Modern Art has been showing its first retrospective of the work of photographer Sarah Moon. The artist developed her activity in parallel with her modelling career in the 1960s. The exhibition takes the visitor on a journey combining photographs and pieces of film, in which the singularity of her work strikes a balance between reflections and transparency.

'PasséPrésent', a Sarah Moon retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne (External link)

'The Olmecs and the Civilisations of the Gulf of Mexico' at the Musée du Quai Branly

Until 25 July 2021

The Quai Branly Museum is taking visitors on a journey through space and time with its exhibition dedicated to Olmec culture. Discover one of the greatest Mesoamerican civilisations (1600 BC to 100 AD), whose name comes from the word Olmán, meaning 'land of rubber'. Over 200 pieces retrace three millennia of traditions, rites and exchanges specific to this little-known world.

'The Olmecs and the Civilisations of the Gulf of Mexico' at the Musée du Quai Branly (External link)

'Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto' at the Palais Galliera

Until 14 March 2021

Another exhibition to attract fashion fans: the Palais Galliera, newly reopened after renovation works, is hosting France's first retrospective on designer and seamstress Gabrielle Chanel. There are 350 pieces on display, divided into 10 'chapters' and including iconic pieces such as the striped jersey, the little black dress and the tweed suit. There's no doubt about it: Chanel is timeless.

'Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto' at the Palais Galliera (External link)

‘Figure d’Artiste’ at the Louvre

Until 5 July 2021

The small gallery at the Louvre is home to ‘Figure of an Artist’, part of the exhibition cycle devoted to the great artistic figures of the Renaissance – notably da Vinci, Donatello and Michelangelo. Similar to the signature or the self-portrait, the transcription of the faces of artists throughout history is also a kind of recognition and authentication of their work.

‘Figure d’Artiste’ at the Louvre (External link)

'Divas: from Oum Kalthoum to Dalida' at the Institut du Monde Arabe

27 January - 25 July 2021

Oum Kalthoum, Asmahan, Fayrouz, Souad Hosni, Dalida... Even if some of these names don't mean anything to you, they are real stars in their country. Legendary singers and actresses who have become 'divas'. Through photographs, film extracts and concerts, glamorous posters and extravagant stage outfits, this exhibition demonstrates the key role played by these women in their artistic field and, more broadly, in Arab societies of the time.

'Divas: from Oum Kalthoum to Dalida' at the Institut du Monde Arabe (External link)

'Black and White: An Aesthetic of Photography' at the Grand Palais

Until 1 February 2021

The strength, aesthetics and emotion exuded by black and white photography is beautifully displayed at the Grand Palais, with 300 photos from the BnF collections by Man Ray, Helmut Newton, Diane Arbus, Brassaï and Cartier Bresson. The route traces 150 years of black and white photography history, from its inception to the present day.

'Black and White: An Aesthetic of Photography' at the Grand Palais (External link)

'Louis de Funès' at the Cinémathèque Française

Until 31 May 2021

Appealing to young and old alike, Louis de Funès has transcended the generations. Rediscover this icon of popular film culture at the Cinémathèque Française. Internationally acclaimed, the comedic actor is known for his mischievous mimes and grimaces, fast-paced acting and cunning, grumpy characters. The exhibition pays homage to this multi-faceted figure through 300 works and film clips.

'The Origins of the World: The Invention of Nature in the 19th Century' at the Musée d'Orsay

Until 2 May 2021

In partnership with the National Museum of Natural History, the d'Orsay is hosting an exhibition celebrating the frontier between science and art. It illustrates the ways in which artists questioned life in the light of the great discoveries of the 19th century and the evolution of the natural sciences. As man's place in nature was questioned, new figures were represented in art and new trends appeared.

'The Origins of the World: The Invention of Nature in the 19th Century' at the Musée d'Orsay (External link)

'À Table! The Art of the Meal' at the Sèvres National Ceramic Museum

Until 6 June 2021

"Eating well is the start of happiness", a famous French advertising slogan declared. And nowhere is this truer than in France! Marking the 10th anniversary of the UNESCO classification of the 'Gastronomic Meal of the French' and the 280th anniversary of the Manufacture de Sèvres, this exhibition retraces the history of this key moment in France, from antiquity to the present day. An incredible 1,000 works are on display.

'À Table! The Art of the Meal' at the Sèvres National Ceramic Museum (External link)

Cindy Sherman retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton

Until 3 January 2021

With this exhibition postponed due to the pandemic and extended into 2021, there's still time to admire the 300 images by the iconic New York photographer taken between 1975 and 2020. The artist is known for photos in which she makes herself up, questioning the place of women in American society in the 1960s and 70s.

Read our full exhibition article here.

'Napoleon? Again! Contemporary Artists' Views' at the Invalides

7 May 2021 - 30 January 2022

To mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's death, the Musée de l'Armée is organising a cultural season dedicated to this iconic figure. For the first time, around 15 contemporary artists from France and elsewhere have been invited to appropriate the different spaces of the museum to illustrate the impact of the emperor's actions on today's world, by questioning his heritage. Conceived in two stages, the exhibition will be presented in parallel with 'Napoleon N’est Plus'.

Musée de l'Armée (External link)

'The Morozov Collection' at the Fondation Louis Vuitton

24 February - 25 July 2021

This major art event at the Louis Vuitton Foundation is the first time the Morozov Collection will be presented outside Russia. Don't miss this opportunity to admire works by famous French and Russian modern artists brought together by the Morozov brothers. Matisse, Bonnard, Picasso, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Denis, Cézanne... alongside Vroubel, Chagall, Malevitch, Repine, Larionov and Serov!

Fondation Louis Vuitton (External link)

'Bio-Inspired: Another Approach' at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie

Permanent exhibition, opened 18 September 2020

Paris' Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie is taking advantage of the opening of a new space to launch a new permanent exhibition. To face the environmental and societal challenges we are currently experiencing, nature has already developed ingenious solutions - but we are still in the process of understanding them. The exhibition invites us to do just that. A must-see!

Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (External link)

'The Final Meal at Pompeii' at the Musée de l'Homme

Until 4 January 2021

This exhibition invites visitors on an astonishing journey through time to discover food remains from the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

'The Final Meal at Pompeii' at the Musée de l'Homme (External link)