FRIDAY MAY 21, 2021
11:00 AM (EDT) 

Mélanie Boucher

Associate professor, Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO)

The Mirror Retrospection used by Jacques-Louis David or the Invention of the retrospective exhibition (in French)

Exhibition modeling of The Intervention of the Sabine Women (1796-1799) by Jacques-Louis David in his studio at the Louvre (1799-1805) from the documentary Une révolution à l’antique. Les Sabines, Jacques-Louis David, 1799
On three occasions, Jacques-Louis David used a mirror for the presentation of his paintings. At first for The Intervention of the Sabine Women (1796-1799), and then for The Coronation of Napoleon (1805-1807), in exhibitions that took place in his studio and which drew on the singularization of his master work displayed vis-à-vis a mirror placed in such a way that the viewer was reflected in the compositions. For its part, the third exhibition is distinctive, his final work Mars Being Disarmed by Venus (1824), which was put into relief thanks to the use of the mirror and was, for this occasion, accompanied by other paintings which served to revisit the artist’s career from its beginnings to its end, which was imminent. The three apartment’s rooms, in which the exhibition unfolded, also partook in the retrospection effect materialized by the mirror, in addition to providing the visitor with the opportunity to inscribe him or herself in the disarmament scene. This last exhibition by David, who was by then viewed as outmoded, nevertheless remains prophetic in regard to the monographic exhibition. Even more so as it pertains to the retrospective exhibition, because of the way it envisages a reassessment of the self and others. This presentation will examine Jacques-Louis David’s contribution to the conceptualization of survey exhibitions through the use of the mirror and the intentions that it can serve to give substance to.

Mélanie Boucher is associate professor of museology and art history at UQO. She has developed an expertise on performance art issues, notably as part of her doctoral thesis which was published in a reworked version in 2014 under the title La nourriture en art performatif : son usage de la première moitié du 20e siècle à aujourd’hui, and then with her research focused on the tableau vivant (FIRC 2014, FRQSC 2014, SSHRC 2016) and the stagings of live figure scenes in exhibitions (SSHRC 2018, 2021). In 2019, with Ersy Contogouris, she was guest co-author of the issue “Stay Still: Past, Present, and Practice of the Tableau Vivant” published in the journal RACAR. Since 2014, she has also been a co-investigator of the Groupe de recherche et de réflexion CIÉCO : Collections et impératif évènementiel/The Convulsive Collections (SSSRH 2014, 2021).