Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris (FR)   13 April 2022 - 21 August 2022

Le Théâtre des émotions

From 13 April to 21 August 2022, the Musée Marmottan Monet presents an exhibition entitled The Theatre of Emotions (Le Théâtre des émotions). Bringing together almost eighty works dating from the Middle Ages to the present day, coming from both private collections and prestigious French and international museums, the exhibition retraces the history of emotions and their pictorial expression from the fourteenth to the twenty-first century.

Curators : Georges Vigarello et Dominique Lobstein


Emotion, with its “often intense reactions,” is systematically present in the visual arts, where it is explored, sought out, and translated in a multitude of ways. Emotion is frequently the meaning behind many of these works, and is used to suggest the flesh and stimulate curiosity. All its expressions are illustrated there: from suffering to joy, enthusiasm to terror, and pleasure to pain.

Finally, the fierce interest that exists today in psychological themes, traumas and affects, can only reinforce the legitimacy of an exhibition on emotion in the visual arts, its varying forms and degrees. The exhibition suggests the endless repertoire of the affective resonances of our inner world, their presence and/or absence from the inscrutable medieval ivory pieces to their screaming sublimation in Jean Fautrier’s Têtes d’otages (1945, Paris, Musée national d'Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou).

However, these nuances also serve to reveal how these same emotions have varied over time, how their manifestations have shifted, how the attention given to them has changed, and sometimes too the meaning assigned to them. “Emotional” objects are enhanced, the gaze is renewed, intensities differentiated, as too are interpretations. Emotion now offers infinite nuances, which the story complements and renders unique. This exhibition provides an insight into the way in which the Western psyche was slowly constituted: its imperceptible development over time, its hidden faces, and its increasingly distinct particularities.

The eight sections of the exhibition illustrate the slow transcription of emotions by artists, and its evolution over time, in the light of aesthetic and scientific reflections, and the weight of historical events.

Musée Marmottan Monet
2 rue Louis-Boilly
75016 Paris
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Artworks in focus

April 2022 Decorative Arts

Marriage Casket

Depicting couples in conversation, in codified stances full of restraint, this marriage casket made in Venice at the beginning of the Quattrocento will be on display starting on April 13, 2022, in the first room of the exhibition The Theatre of Emotions at the Musée Marmottan Monet (Paris). This dialogue with a collection of works from the 14th to the 21st century, tracing the history of emotions and their pictorial expression, is an opportunity to explore the secrets of how the chest was made and the breadth of its meanings.

Work on loan

Entourage de l'atelier des EMBRIACHI
Coffret de mariage
1er quart XVe siècle