The Best Art Shows to See in Paris in 2012

Carlos Reygadas's "Revolution - This is my kingdom"
(Courtesy of the Artist and MAMVP)

Whether it's in the biggest museum or the tiniest gallery, it looks like ARTINFO France will be spoiled in the coming year with a blockbuster list of exhibitions. Here's our guide to the 11 most anticipated shows of 2012.

"Resisting the Present: Mexico 2000/2012" at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris (March 9 - July 8)

The diplomatic contretemps that led to the cancelation of France's Year of Mexico cost the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris a very promising Mexican show in 2011. But the museum did not give up, and will present work by 24 Mexican artists born after 1975 in its Arc 24 space. Jorge Mendez Blake, Bayrol Jimenez, and Diego Berruecos are among the artists featured from this new Mexican scene. The young artists contrast local concerns with perspectives that are increasingly globalized.

R. Crumb at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris (April 13 - August 19)

Comics are becoming more and more popular, but is there a final boundary between comics, drawing, and art? At Paris's Museum of Modern Art, Robert Crumb will have something to say about the issue — at least if the counter-cultural illustrator feels at all concerned by the "art" question, which he probably doesn't. This show of his original drawings, paired with sketches and underground comics, is sure to be entertaining, titillating, and maybe even shocking.

The Michael Werner Collection at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris (October 5, 2012 - March 3, 2013)

The celebrated German gallerist Michael Werner is showing 300 works by 30 artists as varied as Gaston Chaissac, Henri Michaux, Georg Baselitz, and A.R. Penck. In gratitude to the city of Paris, which has inspired him throughout his career, Werner is donating 100 of these works to the city's Museum of Modern Art. A generous gesture on the part of a dealer who, after completing a year of programming in the former Galerie de France in 2007, told the Journal des Arts that "French institutions aren't open, they pretend to act, but they aren't active."

"Animal Beauty, from Dürer to Jeff Koons" at the Grand Palais (March 21 - July 16)

After its blockbuster Picasso and Monet shows, the Grand Palais is making a fascinating gamble. Albrecht Dürer means classical and scientific painting and engraving. Jeff Koons is pure Pop. Between the two of them will be gathered about 160 works by artists including Giacometti, Goya, Degas, César — all in the name of exploring the relationships between artists and their animal subjects. How many little urinating dogs will we see, either by Emanuel de Witte or Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy? And can we dare hope to catch a big Koons "Puppy" in front of the Grand Palais?

The Triennial at the Palais de Tokyo and other locations (April 20 - August 26)

The post-renovation reopening of the Palais de Tokyo, which will add over 200,000 square feet of exhibition space, will certainly present one of the biggest events of 2012. It all kicks off with the Triennial, which is also the first big test for Jean de Loisy, the Palais's new director. On top of that, the show will give us a sense of the identity and future of this "anti-museum" whose internal battles led to the resignation of director Olivier Kaeppelin last year. The Triennial's curator, Okwui Enwezor will make his way through the morass with a theme of "Intense Proximity," a name wide open to interpretation.

Ai Weiwei at the Jeu de Paume (February 21 - April 29)

Although he was imprisoned in China last year, Ai Weiwei's art certainly did not suffer from the same constraints — work by the artist made appearances in New York, London, and Berlin over the course of 2011. In 2012, Jeu de Paume is doing something a bit different from his previous showings of sculptures, installations, and performances. The space will present the artist's photographs and videos in "Entrelacs," his first big show in France. Ai's output in this medium is enormous, ranging from eaerly snapshots taken while he was a student in New York to the thousands of images circulated by the artist on his Twitter feed, a virtual megaphone for denouncing the Chinese government. 

"The Masters of Disorder" at the Musée du Quai Branly (April 10 - July 29)

The Musée du Quai Branly is showing its ambitious side with this thematic exhibition on "imperfect order, the control of disorder, and catharsis," represented in anthropology and in contemporary art. The show including images of shamans and the Greek god Dionysus alongside works by Annette Messager and Thomas Hirschhorn. ARTINFO France looks forward to this springtime treat, curated by the skillful Jean de Loisy.

Matisse at the Pompidou Center (March 7 to June 18)

There's nothing better than contrast and context for looking at Matisse. The Pompidou Center will offer sixty masterpieces by the artist alongside their doubles or sister works of the same series to show the artist's development and his various modes, from pointillism to collage and drawing. Chronologically arranged with an art-historical background, the show promises a great deal of depth.

Adel Abdessemed at the Pompidou Center (September 2012 - January 2013)

From twisted airplanes to the shells of automobiles and that famous cube of taxidermied animals that François Pinault snapped up at FIAC in 2010, Adel Abdessemed makes work in the mini-monumental mode, shying away from overwhelming glamour. The Pompidou Center is seeking to deepen the analysis of his work — the show is about history as matter, according to curator Philippe-Alain Michaud, and we can't wait to see it.

"The Exposed Body" at the Arab World Institute (March 6 - June 24)

This show was planned well before Egyptian blogger Aliaa Maghda El-Mahdy posted nude images of herself last November, but the resulting controversy only underscores this exhibition's importance. Few in the general Western public are aware that the body and the nude have been a regular presence in Arab art for a century — with or without eroticism, with or without polemics. The Arab World Institute will show works including Mehdi-Georges Lahlou's male belly dance, Adel Abidin's video of a nude woman on a ping-pong table, and Youssef Nabil's beautiful sleeping "Natacha."

Wim Delvoye at the Louvre (spring 2012)

OK, so he likes gothic art and his "Tower" already made an appearance in the Rodin Museum's courtyard in 2010. But Wim Delvoye plus the Louvre equals — we hope — the pushing of envelopes, something more in the realm of tattooed pigs. The museum has taken note of the "meeting of the sacred and the profane" in his work, and has invited him to use the space in the department of art objects and the belvedere underneath the pyramid. We've been promised works that have never been shown before. 

Click here or on view slideshow to view selections from France's best 2012 shows