The “Marcel Proust-Du côté de la mère” exhibition has it all: Fake news, social, art and theatrical history, fashion and moral transformations and politics. A more in-depth look at Marcel Proust’s writings is illustrated by the use of the period’s contemporary painters and photographers throughout the exhibition. Their scenes illustrate Proust’s words. There is so much to this exhibit, I recommend you visit to absorb the family history, Proust’s observational history and the intensity of a time machine between the Belle Époque and the modern life of society and the rich contributions of modern Jewish families.
Even if you have not read Proust, the exhibit at the Musée d’art et histoire du Judaïsme (MAHJ) is a voyage through the Belle Époque, a visit to Venice through the work of Whistler and Monet, Paris with Caillebotte, Normandy with Monet, Manet, Prinet, Helleu, Vuillard, Dufy and van Dongen. In the early 1900’s, Proust figured prominently among artists and aristocrats.
Through social connections and invitations, Marcel Proust (1871-1922) wrote about his observations using fictional characters, based on real life characters. Proust maintained an acquaintance with contemporary artists (Picasso, van Dongen), writers (Cocteau) and theatre producers (Diaghilev, Bakst) who would continue to change the art world through the Great War and into the 1920s. He wrote about and the exhibit shows the independence of women and the changes in gender preferences for both sexes. Proust’s novels In Search of Lost Time.
Why you should visit
If you like history of all sorts in a condensed, detailed form, I highly recommend this exhibit with labels in French and in English.
The family of Marcel Proust was Catholic. However, Israelite traditions meant that he was considered Jewish on his mother’s side. France was special among other countries in that Jews were integrated into the bourgeoisie society in politics, the economy, social and cultural activities. Still, integration came with its social prejudices held in society toward the Jewish community, which Proust demonstrates in his novels. Another example of the prejudice was the fake news of the Dreyfus Affair, well illustrated in the exhibit.
The exhibition benefits from loans of thirty institutions, including the National Gallery in London, the Louvre, the Musée Carnavalet, the Musée Proust at Illiers-Combray and exceptional loans by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Musée d’Orsay.
Information about the MAHJ program in English: The exhibit features 150 paintings, drawings, prints and documents, including major works by Monet (one of his favourite painters), Rodin, Bonnard and Vuillard, exhibition illustrates the author’s social life, the committed position he took regarding the Dreyfus Affair, his vision of the homosexual as an alter ego of the Jew, the burgeoning of modernism led by Jewish intellectuals and artists at the beginning of the 20thcentury, and the question of memory, a central element of Jewish identity and in the writing of In Search of Lost Time. It also evokes the important places in his life.