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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 in French 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 is an English curator and art historian, and has been the Saint Louis Art Museum’s curator and head of department of modern and contemporary art since 2010.

He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate from Oxford University, where he also taught art history. He has published extensively on nineteenth and early twentieth-century French art, with a specialty in Barbizon and Impressionist painting, and recently published the book, Théodore Rousseau and the Rise of the Modern Art Market (Bloomsbury, 2021). Kelly has published on a range of other artists, such as Millet, Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, and Matisse, and has also written on American Abstract Expressionism.

Simon worked previously at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. Since joining the Saint Louis Art Museum, he has curated over 20 exhibitions, including the 2017 Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade, the 2020 Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dali, the 2023 Monet/Mitchell: Painting the French Landscape, and the Museum’s current special exhibition, Matisse and the Sea.

Claudine Grammont, Scholar and Curator

Claudine Grammont is a French curator and art historian, specialist in modern and contemporary art. She is head of the department of drawing at the Musée national d’art modern, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. After a PhD in art history from University of Paris IV-Sorbonne), she has widely published on the fauve avant-garde and has curated or co-curated several important exhibitions on that topic such as Matisse and the Fauves (2013) and Matisse, Derain and their Friends, The Parisian Avant-Garde, 1904-1908 (2023).

She is recognized as an expert of Henri Matisse. Former director of the Musée Matisse in Nice from 1996 to 2023, she has curated a number of exhibitions such as Matisse années 1930 (2023); Tom Wesselmann, after Matisse (2023) ; Hockney-Matisse (2022), Pierre Matisse, un marchand d’art à New York (2020) ; Matisse Métamorphoses. La sculpture (2019). She directed the dictionary Tout Matisse (2018) and is the author with Yve-Alain Bois of Matisse in the Barnes Foundation (2015).

As the grand-daughter of the fauve artist Charles Camoin, she is head of the Archives Camoin and is currently preparing the catalogue raisonnée of the artist.

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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