American Icons – Grand Palais

vue de l’exposition Icônes Américaines (6) © Rmn-Grand Palais / photo François Tomasi

American Icons

This exhibition presents 49 emblematic works taken from one of the world’s largest collections of art from the second half of the twentieth century. It is the first presentation of works from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), and the collection of Donald and Doris Fisher brought together by an exceptional partnership developed over many years.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), founded in 1935, is the oldest museum of modern art still in activity, after the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is also the first museum on the West Coast dedicated solely to modern and contemporary art. Since 2013, it has been closed for expansion and has decided to send its exceptional collection of artworks on tour; in France they will be shown in the south-east gallery of the Grand Palais.

The Grand Palais will host the greatest 20th-century American artists especially from the post-war period: Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Richard Diebenkorn, Chuck Close and many more. The names are impressive, but the quality of the works on display is no less outstanding: Warhol’s Red Liz, Lichtenstein’s Tire, portraits by Chuck Close…

The richness and density of the collection make American Icons: Masterworks from the SFMOMA and the Fisher Collection a very complete exhibition. It presents an outstanding collection, but is above all an opportunity to set up a dialogue between works that have never been brought together before and the French public.

vue de l’exposition Icônes Américaines (5) © Rmn-Grand Palais / photo François Tomasi

The selection focuses on the paintings and sculptures of fourteen American artists, some of whom, better promoted in the United States than in France, are particularly well represented. Most belong to the generation of painters who followed Abstract Expressionism and navigated between abstraction and representation to reach a new understanding of the use of colour, formalism and figurative painting. Alexander Calder and Ellsworth Kelly illustrate the early developments of abstract art. Some of the best known examples of Pop Art and Minimalism, two movements which appeared simultaneously in New York in the early 1960s, are also on show. Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol of course incarnate Pop Art while Minimalism and the beginnings of Conceptual Art are represented by Carl André, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt. Pictorial abstraction takes shape in works by Richard Diebenkorn, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin and Cy Twombly. Lastly, the paintings of Chuck Close and Philip Guston synthesize the influences of Pop Art, Minimalism and Abstraction in their figurative works.

By presenting 3-7 works for each artist, the exhibition gives France and Europe a foretaste of the spirit and quality of the new SFMOMA, scheduled to reopen in Spring 2016.

Richard Diebenkorn Berkeley #23 1955 huile sur toile 157,5 x 139,1 cm San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ,don du Women’s Board © The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation © SFMOMA / photo Richard Grant

Practical Information : 

Open: Until 22 June 2015, every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except Tuesdays). Late-night opening until 10 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Prices: €12, €9 concession (16-25-year olds, job seekers, large families). Free for all visitors under 16, income support beneficiaries and state pensioners.
Access: metro line 1 and 13 – “Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau” or line 9 “Franklin D.Roosevelt”.
Information and booking on :