Christian Lacroix Curates: Mirabilis

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Mirabilis Exhibition at the Popes’ Palace, Avignon

Staged in a grand hall in the Popes’ Palace in 2018 was an exhibition which highlighted the treasures found across Avignon’s five main museums and galleries: the Petit Palais, Calvet, Requien, Roure and Lapidaire.  What made it rather special was the fact that it was curated by Christian Lacroix.

Despite the fact that he is a famous fashion designer with a theatrical flair, Lacroix wasn’t just able to bring his aesthetic sense to this exhibition; he studied Art History in Montpellier and was in Paris intending to become a museum curator before the allure of haute couture pulled him away.  Financially no doubt this was an excellent decision and surely even someone as creative as he is would have been somewhat crushed by the single-interest academic brains working around him.  Besides, it means that now he can swan in and show curators how you do an eclectic exhibition without it looking like a jumble sale.

As a random example, the second picture is a fairly typical display – combining ethnologically interesting objects with some stuffed animals of the kind that I would never usually look at.  Somehow because of the way they’ve been integrated into one display, you really do take the time to examine the individual parts, in a way that maybe you wouldn’t if the case had all of just one type of item – like birds.

So In Summary

I have seen displays and exhibitions by curators in other places trying to do this eclectic look – but they end up by feeling utterly pointless and frankly disrespectful to the objects.  The advantage that Lacroix perhaps has over the average curator is his artistic eye, and his amusing sense for juxtapositions.  Somehow he managed to make you want to look at all the artefacts, even the usually unappealing ones like stuffed animals, rather than just running your eyes over each case and moving on.  The Avignon museums are graced with many fascinating and beautiful works, and this exhibition certainly showed just how varied and important they are as well.  M. Lacroix showed, I think, that curating can be intelligent, good-humoured and visually stimulating, and I hope he gets a chance to host similar exhibitions elsewhere soon.

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