Peter Doig, Milky Way, 1989-90

The theme of night has been a constant focus for artists, whether it’s a case of literally capturing images of the dark or exploring darkness as a representation of our subconscious, our fears – or even a clandestine rendezvous.

But the treatment of night-time, and the questions it prompts, changed dramatically in the 19th century with the advent of electric lighting.

Featuring depictions of the night in modern and contemporary painting, this much-awaited exhibition at the Centre Pompidou-Metz revisits the vast topic and simultaneously poses profound questions about our place in the universe and the role of art in shaping it. The title, Peindre la nuit, is intentionally ambiguous: it can mean either ‘depicting the night’ or ‘painting at night’, cleverly blurring the line between the figurative and the abstract. Delving into the realms of nocturnal perception, the show is set up to tease the senses as visitors step into the exhibit as if they were stepping into the night.

This major effort showcases the work of more than 100 artists and historical figures such as Winslow Homer, Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, Brassaï and Paul Klee, as well as a number of spectacular installations – some of which have been created especially for the project.

Until April 15 at the Centre Pompidou Metz. www.centrepompidou-metz.fr

From France Today magazine

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