Image: Voix Baudelairiennes: Elizabeth Peyton
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Voix Baudelairiennes: Elizabeth Peyton Paysage

29 April 2021
Musée d'Orsay

To celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles Baudelaire, the great French poet of the 19th century, the Musée d'Orsay has invited leading figures from the world of contemporary art and thought to read Baudelaire text of their choosing every week for the new digital program: Baudelairian VoicesEach week for one year, starting April 9, 2021, a figure from contemporary art and thought –a philosopher, artist, actor, actress, filmmaker, model, poet, writer, or musician – will read an excerpt from Baudelaire of their own choice, in the language of their own choice. 

This week, painter Elizabeth Peyton, who painted a portrait of Baudelaire when she was still in early teens, reads "A Landscape" in F. P. Sturm's classic translation.

 These videos are free-form, and each one is made by each reader, who is free to create the effects he or she wishes. For the first time, the Musée d'Orsay's digital platforms are thus open to the diverse contributions by artists from all over the world who pay tribute to the poet and make his text heard in their own language.

Charles Baudelaire transformed French poetry and the conception of art: his evocation of the birth of photography, in particular, was seminal. In some respects, he embodies the nineteenth century presented at the Musée d'Orsay: bringing Creolity into poetry, passionate about a non-orientalist Orient, concerned with a classicism that was receding, and opening up to a modernity that both frightened and attracted him.

Present in the museum's collections, from painting to photography, he demonstrates the tensions of the period covered by the Musée d’Orsay, characterized by a concern to "paint modern life," and at the same time to deal with a present put in crisis by the advent of photography. This great French poet - a "critical contemporary", close friend of Manet, champion of Wagner, and founder of an entire branch of modern poetry - still has a considerable impact on contemporary art throughout the world.

It seemed natural to the Musée d'Orsay to celebrate him through a multiple program, interweaving the different aspects of the museum's life, and beginning, in the current period, with the digital. The Baudelairian Voices naturally open the Année Baudelaire program, which will be revealed after the museum reopens.

Baudelairian Voices is a program conceived by Donatien Grau, advisor to the Presidency for Contemporary Programs, and manager at the museum for the Année Baudelaire.

Translation: The Flowers of Evil (copyright c 1965 by New Directions Publishing Corp. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.)


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Voix Baudelairiennes: Elizabeth Peyton Paysage
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