Less familiar and less crowded than Versailles—but designed by the same architects—Vaux le Vicomte can now be seen as never before.
Alexandre de Vogüé and his brothers didn’t think much about growing up at Vaux le Vicomte, the 17th-century estate about an hour southeast of Paris. “All our friends had small gardens, and we had a bigger garden,” he says of the magnificent grounds, designed by landscape architect André Le Nôtre. At night, the siblings would play cat-and-mouse in the château and listen to ghost stories about its first owner, Nicolas Fouquet. That visionary patron united the talents of Le Nôtre, painter Charles Le Brun, and architect Louis Le Vau, to create one of the glories of the Grand Siècle.
Two years ago, Alexandre and his twin brother, Jean-Charles, took stewardship of the estate. This spring, visitors can enjoy their first major renovation: the installation of six giant, arched glass doors that restore the château’s transparency and vistas. Vogüé says, “Today, when you are in the grand salon, looking out, you almost dive into the garden.”
Thanks to dramatic transformations, these five world-class museums are casting a whole new light on their collections.
Amsterdam: After a 10-year renovation, a grand atrium now greets visitors to the Rijksmuseum(pictured). More than 8,000 objects, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals, have been rearranged as a historical survey. —Raul Barreneche
Honolulu: The extraordinary story of how Pacific Islanders developed their diverse cultures is told—with canoes, costumes, musical instruments, and more—in the renovated Pacific Hall, debuting this month at the Bishop Museum. —Peter Webster
New York City: Housed in a pavilion built for the 1939 World’s Fair, the Queens Museum reopens in November at twice its original size. One of the first shows, “The People’s UN,” nods to the building’s former role as host to the General Assembly.—Peter Webster
Mexico City: The Museo Jumex, displaying artists both Mexican (Gabriel Orozco; Carlos Amorales) and global (Olafur Eliasson; Tacita Dean), expands into David Chipperfield’s sawtooth-roofed building in November. —Raul Barreneche
Cleveland: Come December, the Cleveland Museum of Artwill unveil the last of three wings by Rafael Viñoly, showing works that range from Chinese bronzes to Impressionist paintings. —Peter Webster
Coming attractions on the arts calendar: reinvigorated classics and celebrated traditions. Here, some of the highlights.
New York City: The two-month-long Season of Cambodia festival is a collaboration between the Phnom Penh–based nonprofit Cambodian Living Arts (a T+L Global Vision Award winner) and dozens of cultural institutions citywide. Dancers, sculptors, puppeteers, and others will showcase Khmer heritage, both traditional (Royal Ballet of Cambodia) and contemporary (rock band Dengue Fever). April 9–May 25.
Amsterdam: It’s an artistic double Dutch: both theRijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum reopen this spring after major makeovers. The former, closed for 10 years, has added an Asian pavilion; Rembrandt’s Night Watch now takes pride of place among Vermeer’s pensive maidens and Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress. At the latter, van Gogh’s sunflowers and self-portraits come home again to Gerrit Rietveld’s Modernist building.
Spectacular art and design share the spotlight at these new additions to the culture map.
Philadelphia: Barnes Foundation With its stunning new campus downtown, the Barnes—known for shaking up the way art is understood with its provocative arrangements of Renoirs and Matisses next to metal hinges and hooks—is helping visitors see Philly’s impressive arts scene in a new light.
Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum A thorough renovation and expansion shows off the Stedelijk’s singular modern and postwar art as well as its renowned design collection. A highlight: Gerrit Rietveld’s 1926 Harrenstein Bedroom, as perfectly balanced as a Mondrian painting.
With so many options on this season’s arts calendar, how’s a traveler to choose? Here are four standouts.
Opera:Milan’s fabled Teatro alla Scala devotes most of this season to titans Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, both of whom celebrate their bicentennials in 2013. Wagner’s Lohengrin kicks off the party in a new production starring tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who looks and sounds like a Wagnerian god. Dec. 7–27.
Theater: Jessica Chastain, known for her Oscar-nominated turn in The Help, comes to Broadway in the title role of The Heiress, adapted from Henry James’s Washington Square. David Strathairn, Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens, and director Moisés Kaufman (I Am My Own Wife) round out the pedigreed production. Opens Nov. 1.
Art: “Impressionism and Fashion,” a groundbreaking exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris, will consider the relationship between Manet, Degas, Caillebotte, and other painters and the then-emerging fashion industry, pairing Impressionist masterpieces with rarely exhibited finery of 19th-century Parisians. Sept. 25–Jan. 20.
Dance: American Ballet Theatre star David Hallberg is also a premier danseur at Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet. It’s an intriguing partnership: the Russian company is legendary for its bravura style, while Hallberg is a paragon of classical restraint. See the results of the cross-pollination this season, when Hallberg dances signature roles in Swan Lake and Jewels. Sept.–Dec.
Far from the frenzied hype of most art-world capitals, contemporary art’s utopian aspirations come to rest 25 miles north of Copenhagen. There, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art strikes that rarest of balances between landscape, architecture, and art. In 1958, visionary Danish manufacturer Knud W. Jensen transformed a 19th-century villa on the Øresund strait into a Modernist oasis, adding low-slung glass pavilions and a surrounding sculpture park (the name is derived from the previous owner’s three successive wives, all called Louise). Today, despite numerous expansions, visitors still arrive through the villa’s modest entrance hall, as if coming to see an eccentric, slightly stodgy country uncle. But the latest in video art and photography await, alongside masterpieces by Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, and Alexander Calder, in dialogue with spectacular light and views, the wind, and the sounds of the sea.
“Forest Demon” (“Waldschrat”) was the nickname given to Gustav Klimt by the locals around the Attensee, the lakeside retreat near Vienna where the artist spent summer holidays, tramping through the woods loaded down with painting supplies, when he wasn’t relaxing with his companion Emilie Floge and her family. In glorious landscapes, such as "Farm Garden with Sunflowers" (pictured below), in the collection of Vienna’s Belvedere Museum, he transforms the hot-house sensuality of his better-known portraits and allegorical paintings into a vision of Nature’s mystery, cloaked in a brilliant dream of color and pattern.
From New York’s MoMA to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, T+L picks the season’s best global art exhibits.
Paris: Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris reignited interest in Gertrude Stein and her legendary Paris salon, and this fall visitors to the City of Light can get a taste of the real thing at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais(Oct. 5–Jan. 16, 2012). “Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso: The Stein Family,” an exhibition of some 250 paintings, drawings, and prints, comes from the collections of Gertrude, her siblings Leo and Michael, and Michael’s wife, Sarah.
Vienna: “Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann: Pioneers of Modernism” at the Lower Belvedere(Oct. 25–Mar. 4) focuses on the intense collaboration of the painter and architect from their founding of the Vienna Secession in 1897 until Klimt’s death in 1918.
New York City: “De Kooning: A Retrospective,” at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)(Sept. 18–Jan. 9, 2012), is the first survey to consider the full scope of the career of this Rotterdam-born American Abstract Expressionist.
New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”(May 4–July 31) pays homage to the late British fashion designer by displaying more than 100 of his creations (a jacket with horns in place of epaulets; bulbous “armadillo” shoes).
France: With various exhibits across 30 institutions in the French Riviera, “Contemporary Art and the Côte d’Azur”(June 25–Nov. 7) spans 60 years of work by more than 200 artists, from Picasso to performance artist Philippe Ramette.