Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume
Nazi sorting house
Jeu de Paume was used from 1940 to 1944 to store Nazi plunder looted by the regime's Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce in France (see Rose Valland). These works included masterpieces from the collections of French Jewish families like the Rothschilds, the David-Weills, the Bernheims, and noted dealers including Paul Rosenberg who specialised in impressionist and post-impressionist works.
Hermann Göring commanded that the loot would first be divided between Adolf Hitler and himself. For this reason, from the end of 1940 to the end of 1942 he traveled twenty times to Paris. At Jeu de Paume, art dealer Bruno Lohse staged 20 expositions of the newly looted art objects, especially for Göring, from which Göring selected at least 594 pieces for his own collection; the rest was destined for the Führermuseum in Linz.
So called degenerate art (modern art "unworthy" in the eyes of the Nazis) was legally banned from entering Germany, and so once designated was held in what was called the Martyr's Room at the Jeu de Paume. Much of Paul Rosenberg's professional dealership and personal collection were subsequently so designated by the Nazis. Following Joseph Goebbels's earlier private decree to sell these degenerate works for foreign currency to fund the building of the Führermuseum and the wider war effort, Goering personally appointed a series of ERR-approved dealers including Hildebrand Gurlitt to liquidate these assets and then pass the funds to swell his personal art collection. With much of the looted degenerate art sold onwards via Switzerland, Rosenberg's collection was scattered across Europe. Unsold art (including works by Picasso and Dalí) was destroyed on a bonfire in the grounds of the Jeu de Paume on the night of 27 July 1942.
French resistance curator Rose Valland, who was working at the museum, kept a secret list of all the works passing through, and after the Nazi defeat in 1945 most of these works were thereby returned to their rightful owners. Today, some 70 of Rosenberg's paintings are missing, including: the large Picasso watercolor Naked Woman on the Beach, painted in Provence in 1923; seven works by Matisse; and the Portrait of Gabrielle Diot by Degas.
Post war museum
Between 1947 and 1986, it contained the Musée du Jeu de Paume, which held many important impressionist works now housed in the Musée d'Orsay. Widely considered as the "most famous museum of impressionist painting in the world", the rooms bore names such as Salle Degas, Salle Cézanne, or Salle Monet.
From 1989, as part of the Grands Projets of François Mitterrand, the building underwent a $10 million renovation by architect Antoine Stinco, resulting in about 12,700 square feet of exhibition space spread across three floors. The formerly walled-in reception hall was transformed into an atrium-like open area flooded with natural light from large bay windows, allowing views of the neighboring Tuileries Gardens, Place de la Concorde, and Eiffel Tower. The top floor features a series of skylighted galleries.
In 1991, the Jeu de Paume reopened as "France's first national gallery of contemporary art", with an exhibition devoted to Jean Dubuffet. Subsequent retrospectives were dedicated to international artists such as Marcel Broodthaers (1991), Robert Gober (1991), Ellsworth Kelly (1992), Helio Oiticica (1992), and Eva Hesse (1993). In 1999, the museum chose American architect Richard Meier as the subject of its first-ever architectural exhibition. Since 2004 the Jeu de Paume has developed into a centre for modern and postmodern photography and media, mounting survey exhibitions on Ed Ruscha (2006), Cindy Sherman (2006), Martin Parr (2009), and William Kentridge (2010), among others.
In popular culture
The museum's war episode was depicted in John Frankenheimer's 1964 film The Train, starring Burt Lancaster and Jeanne Moreau. In Sara Houghteling's novel, Pictures at an Exhibition (2009), the character of Rose Clément is based on Rose Valland
- Hector Feliciano (July 10, 1991), New Flair for Two Old Museums Los Angeles Times.
- Alan Riding (September 3, 1997), Collector's Family Tries to Illuminate the Past of Manuscripts in France New York Times.
- Eunice Lipton (January 4, 2005), The youth of today The Guardian.
- Ginger Danto (February 3, 1991), For New Art, a Building Drenched in Art History New York Times.
- Michael Kimmelman (July 2, 1991), A Paris Museum Reopens in a New Guise New York Times.
- Suzanne Muchnich (November 17, 1991), An American Foot in the Door Los Angeles Times.
- John Russell (April 5, 1992), Ellsworth Kelly, an American in Paris New York Times.
- Alan Riding (August 8, 1999), Celebrating an Architect, Hailing an Artist New York Times.
- About the Jeu de Paume Official Website.
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- Jeu de Paume
- The Jeu de Paume and the Looting of France - Website of the Cultural Property Research Foundation, Inc.