Beyoncé and Jay Z may have drawn your attention to it in a certain music video set in the Louvre: the representation of black people in art.
“Le modèle noir” is the first exhibition by a major French art institution broaching the topic of the representation of black people in France in art. Specifically, how they were depicted in art and how they were used as models. It will be installed in the Musée d’Orsay from March 26 to July 21 of this year.
The exhibit features works addressing particularly significant periods for black people in history and in art, from the abolition of slavery in France (1794) to the Harlem Renaissance.
As you go through, make sure to note the changes in titles and the inclusion of a name for the black subject to reflect the return of power. For example, “Portrait d’une négresse” became “Portrait femme noire” and finally “Portrait de Madeleine.” As the president of the d’Orsay and Orangerie museums, Laurence des Cars, tells Le Point, “I called my fellow directors at museums, the Louvre, Quai Branly, etc., to tell them about the decision we were making to rename certain works to match the evolution of society, and everyone was okay with this decision.”