Located on the Right Bank of the River Seine, Paris’s 8th arrondissement is home to the world-famous Champs-Elysées, the grand Arc de Triomphe and the official residence of France’s president. The area is also where you’ll find the finest art galleries and museums in the city.
For first-class contemporary art, visit Galerie Lelong
Galerie Lelong is a long-standing contemporary art gallery with branches in Paris and New York. Having opened its doors in 1981, the Paris gallery displays a diversity of artistic expressions that range from paintings and sculpture to installations and photography. Since its very beginnings, Galerie Lelong has featured internationally renowned artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Joan Miró and Francis Bacon. The gallery also publishes and promotes its own contemporary prints, books and artists’ catalogues.
Named after its founder, Larry Gagosian, this contemporary art gallery is located just off the Champs-Elysées and hosts frequently changing exhibitions; artists that have been featured previously include names such as Ellsworth Kelly and Roy Lichtenstein. The gallery has partners around the world, including in New York, London, Rome and Athens.
With more than two million visitors each year, the Grand Palais has proven itself to be a popular and beloved Parisian landmark. Located at the end of the Champs-Elysées, the glass-roofed structure offers a delightful contrast to the excess that accompanies the city’s most iconic shopping street. Built with the purpose of hosting the Universal Exhibition in 1900, it has since been designated as a historic monument and is treated as such by the Parisian government, with continual care to restore and maintain its appearance. Looking inside its remarkable Beaux-Arts exterior, the Grand Palais houses a wide variety of contemporary photography, imposing sculptures and classical paintings.
For something a little different, the private home of art collectors Édouard André and Nélie Jacquemart is well worth a visit. The couple’s mansion was converted and divided into five sections in 1913 to display the artworks that they amassed throughout their lifetimes. In the first section, the State Apartments, mythological compositions and portraits are featured. The Informal Apartments are fully decorated with dramatic wall paintings by Jean-Baptiste Le Prince, who was a pupil of François Boucher. In contrast, the impressively designed Winter Garden, by Henri Parent, houses grandiose sculptures and an immense variety of plants. Lastly, the Italian Museum exhibits collections of 15th- and 16th-century Italian sculpture by Francesco Laurana, Donatello, Luca della Robbia and others, while the Private Apartments provide an insight into the Jacquemart-André home.
Similarly to the Jacquemart-André, the Musée Nissim de Camondo was a private house that has now been converted into a public museum. The mansion’s former owner, Moïse de Camondo, was a reputable Parisian banker who avidly collected French furniture and art from the 18th century. The building itself was designed by the French architect René Sergent in 1911, and its display of the decorative arts continues to impress visitors.
A considerable representative of Asian art in Paris is the Musée Cernuschi near the Parc Monceau. The second-oldest Asian art museum in France, the Cernuschi has an impressive assortment of objects on display, ranging from paintings to archaeological evidence. The museum’s 12,000 pieces, of which roughly 9,000 are part of the permanent collection, also offer a great opportunity to learn about the history attached to the art.
The best representation of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in Paris is located in the Jardin des Tuileries next to the Place de la Concorde. The Musée de l’Orangerie is well known for housing Monet’s Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies) paintings, and the museum has long since established itself as a local favourite. The fixed installation features the work of renowned painters such as Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, while the temporary exhibition of painters and photographers is regularly revised.
On the west side of the Jardin des Tuileries lies the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, which exhibits Modern and Postmodern art. The building in which the gallery is housed was originally constructed to accommodate a real tennis court (‘jeu de paume’ translates as ‘palm game’) but was later converted into a museum. A variety of photography and mixed-media artworks are on display, featuring well-established photographers such as Florence Henri and Germaine Krull. The gallery also holds temporary exhibitions by emerging artists.