Paris: 3 fun summer art shows

Courtesy Meg Zimbeck
Graffiti at Fondation Cartier

During the hot month of August, the Paris art scene sheds pretension almost as fast as les franaçises shed excess clothing. Summer exhibitions are fun, accessible, and delightfully low-brow. They're also one of the few Parisian spaces (along with supermarkets and movie theaters) where you can be assured of air conditioning. As the temperature rises, the following shows are guaranteed to keep you cool.

"Kandinksy" through August 10, 2009

This landmark retrospective provides a coherent introduction to the colorful work of Russian painter Wassily Kandisky. Organizers say the exhibition "goes beyond the narrow posthumous conception of him as "inventor of abstraction." Local blogger John Talbott says, "I found the works in the last room from the 1930s and '40s to be almost playful experiments by an assured mature artist—not needing to sell or please anyone, he seems to be just having fun and I did too, just seeing them."

Centre Pompidou, 19 rue Beaubourg, 4th arrondissement, €12 $16.

"Planète Parr" (Martin Parr) through September 27

I fell in love with photographer Martin Parr the moment I saw his travel-oriented Small World series. The same sense of humor shines in this exhibition at the Jeu de Paume. Along with his photographs that poke fun at luxury, Parr has also put his personal collection of kitsch collectibles on display. As local art blog The Great Exposition writes, "by displaying these photos alongside his collection of cheap souvenirs (Obama flip-flops, special edition Spice Girl chocolate bars, Saddam Hussein watches), the exhibition reveals Parr's interest in global consumer culture and his subtle satire of modern mores." Jeu de Paume, 1 place de la Concorde, 1st arrondissement, €6, $8.50.

"Born in the Streets" through November 29

An exhibition dedicated to graffiti and street art? This could only happen at the über-cool Fondation Cartier. Controversially asserting that this illegal activity has become an accepted art form in design and advertising, this contemporary arts museum has dedicated its entire gallery space to celebrating an artistic movement that was born in the streets of New York. They've also given over the building's façade to graffiti artists who are transforming the walls with new images every day. Fondation Cartier, 261 boulevard Raspail, 14th arrondissement, €5, $7.


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