The fall arts calendar is in full swing, so if you’re all pumpkin-ed out, get some variety in your cultural life with our pick of the best French-flavored events across the country this month.
Reflect on the future of cities in France and America
The Franco-American cultural hub, Villa Albertine, inaugurated CITY CITÉ seven years ago, to generate transatlantic dialogue around the future of cities. This year’s program pairs Marseille and Atlanta, two southern cities that boast a rich and complex history and share similar present-day challenges. Representatives from the Marseille cultural institution La Friche la Belle de Mai traveled to Atlanta to discuss the role of the arts in urban planning, and on October 7, the city will unveil Marseille-based artist Étienne Rey’s immersive, reality-distorting installation Space Odyssey (pictured) at Underground Atlanta, 50 Upper Alabama Street Suite G115. Meanwhile in California, the curators of the ongoing exhibition “In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin: Oakland/Saint-Denis” (featured in our August events guide) will come together for an online conversation on October 12, to discuss how cities can better support the arts and humanities. On October 13-14 the conversation continues in Chicago (twinned with Paris in the original CITY CITÉ project), with a two-day symposium on the challenge of building cities into vibrant and resilient cultural centers: one shared across France and the United States.
Immerse yourself in modern and classic French cinema
The American French Film Festival is the new name for the annual COLCOA festival in Los Angeles, which will take place this month at the Hollywood’s Directors Guild of America Theater complex, on Sunset Boulevard. For its 26th outing, from October 10– 16, the festival will screen more than 100 feature films, documentaries, shorts, and television series over six days. The varied line-up comprises blockbusters, classics, and everything in between, and opens with Jean-Jacques Annaud’s riveting Notre-Dame on Fire (pictured), which blends news and cellphone footage with the stories of firefighters for a vivid reimagining of the 2019 inferno. The classic screenings this year honor Jean-Luc Godard and the silent film pioneer Alice Guy. Full information, tickets, and passes are available at the festival website. Not in LA? Catch a great line up of French films at the 60th annual New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, through October 16, or the Cinémathèque Albertine French Film Festival on the campus of Boston University, October 11–27.
See Cubism in a new light
On October 20, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will unveil a major fall exhibition, Cubism and the Trompe L’Oeil Tradition, running through January 2023. The show reimagines the quintessential modernist art movement not simply as a response to the dawning of a new age, but as an engagement with a much older visual tradition, popular in Europe and America from the 17th through the 19th century. Trompe l’oeil (or “deceive the eye”) painting was a play on the nature of representation itself, exploding the divisions between painting and subject, and turning the simple still life genre into a game of allusion and illusion. As the exhibition shows, the main players of Cubism—Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Picasso—drew inspiration from specific trompe l’oeil works and the genre’s overall mode of tricking, troubling, and delighting viewers. The exhibition features trompe l’oeil painters like Samuel van Hoogstraten, Louis Leopold Boilly, and William Harnett along with a rich array of Cubist art (on loan from museums in France and from the Met’s Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection), including Braque’s “Violin and Sheet Music: ‘Petit Oiseau,’” pictured above.
Catch one of France’s liveliest jazz bands
Jazz lovers in Washington DC will be able to catch the first ever American performance of the veteran French quintet OZMA this month. The group, known for its inventive blending of rock, electronica, world music, and traditional jazz, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Led by drummer and composer Stéphane Scharlé and bassist Édouard Séro-Guillaum, the group will be showcasing its seventh album, Hyperlapse. A must for curious newcomers and connoisseurs, the group’s sound is said to evoke “Ray Anderson invited by Rage Against the Machine, John Coltrane jamming with Radiohead or Billy Cobham playing with the best New Orleans brass bands.” The group plays La Maison Française, 4101 Reservoir Road, Washington DC, on October 26 at 7:30pm. Tickets available online.
Discover a great artist’s creative renaissance
In Philadelphia this fall, a new exhibition shines a light on the creative journey of one of the most beloved artists in France and the United States. Matisse in the 1930s shows how the artist fell into a “deep creative slump” following his successes of the 1920s, until a 1930 commission from the Barnes Foundation (then located in the suburbs of Philadelphia) spurred him on to new heights. The immense mural he created for the Barnes became his instantly recognizable La Danse (1930–33), which restored his artistic energies and laid the foundation for the vibrant artistic experiments of the ensuing decade. Through more than 100 artworks, the exhibition charts the development of Matisse’s work in these crucial years, and includes several studies for The Dance, including Oil Study for the Barnes Mural, Gray Harmony, 1930–31, pictured above. Incorporating a wealth of sketches, drawings, sculpture, and printmaking, the show also highlights the creative partnership between Matisse and his studio manager and model, Lydia Delectorskaya. Matisse in the 1930s opens October 20 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Joanna Scutts is a historian and critic, and the author of Hotbed: Bohemian Greenwich Village and the Secret Club that Sparked Modern Feminism and The Extra Woman: How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It.