Female Pop-Art, Nana’s and the color blue in Musée Mamac

There are many museums in Nice and with the museum pass you can visit all the big ones within 3 days. There were a couple we wanted to visit. We had already visited Palais Lascaris, a museum of musical instruments and today we wanted to do something different, so we went to Mamac: Musée d’art Moderne et d’art Contemporain. A museum for modern and postmodern artwork.

After exploring Castle Hill in daylight, we decided to spend the rest of the day at a modern art museum. Usually, modern art isn’t really my thing. There was another museum that also sounded interesting, musée des beaux arts, but it was at the other side of the city and we didn’t really feel like walking all the way, so instead, we opted for Mamac. I had been here before, on my school trip when I was 15 years old, though I didn’t remember much from it. At that time, I was too young to understand most of the artworks so they didn’t really make an impression, not as they did this time.

The first exhibit we walked into was a temporary one: The amazons of Pop – She-bam Pow Pop Wizz. It was an exposition of female Pop Art artists. We all know Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, but there’s another side of Pop Art that we haven’t heard much of: the female side. It’s about the woman’s emancipation through the affirmation of their desire, according to the leaflet. The women had to ‘throw off the chackles of a certain conception of the passive female‘. The exposition was all about how the women choose to portray themselves and even though a lot of it was about sex and the female body, it was their choice and in this they held the power, showing a contrasting view to that of the modest mother and housewife that was the regular image of women in the 1950s.

This exposition wasn’t really my thing, though I do appreciate the message and the lessons it taught. For me, art should be a conjunction of imagery and message and this all felt like more message than art. But I did learn a lot about different female Pop artists and this side of history we don’t often hear about, so in that it was very interesting.

The rest of the museum (two whole floors) were dedicated to the collection that can be viewed all year round. There was more pop-art, a play of words by Jean Dupuy that we couldn’t make much of, as our French wasn’t good enough and the monocrome adventure by Yves Klein, where the artist focuses on the color blue. He has painted objects with living brushes – usually naked women. Though all of this is interesting, I’m not sure I would call all of it art.

What I did enjoy were the Nana’s by Niki de Saint Phalle that symbolize the modern woman, liberated from traditions. A paradoxal creature, light because of the material (paper maché and cloth), ignoring the laws of anatomy and gravity but at the same time depicted as heavy-set. It represents the contrasting views society has of women, as mothers, wives or prostitutes. The Nana’s are free of their shackles, being whomever they want to be. I really liked this imagery and the message.

Though many of the artworks in this museum weren’t what I would call beautiful, as the artworks are in museums I usually visit (such as beaux-arts), I liked how all of these pieces ask for discourse. They tell a story, ask a question or start a discussion and that is worth a lot.

The roof of the museum is absolutely spectacular too. It has a beautiful view over the city, is filled with plants and there’s another artwork hidden in the façade: numerous blue chairs as you can see at the seaside: the typical chair of Nice.

If you want to visit a museum that gives you some topics to talk about during dinner, Mamac is an absolute must. I’d highly recommend it!

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