Apollo Magazine

The French presidential candidates avoiding French art

Pluralist Emmanuel Macron came under fire for saying he’s never seen any French art

Macron à Mont-Sainte Victoire

Macron à Mont-Sainte Victoire

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

The race for the French election is hotting up, but so far the candidates have had precious little to say on the matter of culture.

A notable exception to this is Emmanuel Macron. At a rally in Lyon a few months ago, the En Marche! founder loudly declared that there was ‘no such thing as French culture’, opining instead that all ‘national’ cultures are in fact pluralist in character.

‘L’art français, je ne l’ai jamais vu’, he declared on a visit to London in February. For the internationalists among us, the sentiment may seem noble. But Macron’s choice of words could have been better. Critics were swift to respond, with many pointing out that ‘French art’, as commonly interpreted, had produced such minor names as Fragonard, Cézanne and Duchamp. ‘I would advise [Macron] to visit the Louvre’, philosopher Bérénice Levet told Le Figaro.

Meanwhile, Front National leader Marine Le Pen jetted off to Moscow last month with the dual aims of meeting members of the country’s parliament and visiting the Kremlin’s current exhibition of French gothic art. But Le Pen ran into Vladimir Putin, it seems, on her way to the exhibition…

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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