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Midwest Museum Talk | Matisse and the Sea


Simon Kelly, Claudine Grammont et Lionel Cuillé.


April 24, 2024 | 11 am CT


Midwest Museum Talks is back! The online talks organized by Villa Albertine Chicago in collaboration with Midwest museums will this time focus on the theme of Matisse and the Sea.

Join us for a virtual discussion with Simon Kelly, Curator and Head of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum and the precious presence of Claudine Grammont, former Director of the Musée Matisse Nice and now Head of the Department of Graphic Arts at the Centre Pompidou Paris.

Based on the current exhibition “Matisse and the Sea” at the Saint Louis Art Museum (on view until May 12, 2024), this second transatlantic conversation coordinated by Villa Albertine Chicago and  Saint Louis Art Museum will examine the theme of the sea in the French painter’s work.

From Matisse’s early marine landscapes captured in the South of France to his later intricate paper cutouts of the dreamlike underwater world, influenced by his journey to Tahiti in 1930 (where he even met Gauguin’s son), the sea reveals itself as an obsessive and fascinating theme throughout his artistic journey.

This discussion will be moderated by Professor Lionel Cuillé, founder and director of the French connexions Center of Excellence at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Speakers

Simon Kelly, Curator and Head of Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum

Simon Kelly has published extensively, particularly on nineteenth and early twentieth-century French art, and organized numerous international exhibitions, for example, Degas, Impressionism and the Paris Millinery Trade (2017) and Millet and Modern Art (2020). In 2021, he published the book, Theodore Rousseau and the Rise of the Modern Art Market. Kelly is the curator of the Saint Louis exhibition, Monet/Mitchell: Painting the French Landscape, and Matisse and the sea.

Claudine Grammont, Scholar and Curator

After earning her doctorate degree with a dissertation on the genesis of Fauvism (Paris-Sorbonne 2000), Claudine Grammont published a large number of key art-historical works on the subject, then gradually turned her attention to Matisse, eventually becoming director of the famous Musée Matisse, in Nice, between 2016 and 2023. She organized numerous exhibitions such as Le Dessin Fauve (Musée Cantini Marseille, 2000); Matisse and the Fauves (Albertina, Vienna 2013) and was a consultant for the exhibition Matisse: Radical Invention 1911-1917 (Art Institute of Chicago and MoMA, 2010). The independent scholar and curator is now head of the Department of Graphic Arts at the Centre Pompidou Paris.

Dr. Lionel Cuillé, Teaching professor of French, Washington University in St Louis

Dr. Lionel Cuillé is the founder and director of the French connexions center of excellence at Washington University in St. Louis. His teaching and research focus on contemporary French poetry, the avant-gardes, and ecocriticism. He co-authored Francis Ponge, ateliers contemporains (Garnier, 2019).

In partnership with

The Saint Louis Art Museum

Founded in 1879, The Saint Louis Art Museum collects, presents, interprets, and conserves works of art of the highest quality across time and cultures; educates, inspires discovery, and elevates the human spirit; preserves a legacy of artistic achievement for the people of St. Louis and the world; and engages, includes, and represents the full diversity of the St. Louis community supporting it.

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French Connexions Cultural Center at Washington University in St Louis

The French Connections Cultural Center, housed in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (RLL) at Washington University in St. Louis, helps promote French Language and culture in the heart of the Midwest. It is a member of The Centers of Excellence, a support network for the Embassy of France to develop transatlantic relationship on their campus.

Centre Pompidou

Since 1977, the Centre Pompidou has presented a rich programme at the crossroads between different art forms and audiences. Its iconic building is home to one of the world’s largest modern and contemporary art collections, in addition to exhibitions, symposiums, festivals, shows, projections, and workshops for young audiences, making it an unparalleled cultural institution, deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of Paris and open to the world and to new innovation. 


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