Through the medium of some 200 paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, documents and, of course, film excerpts, the exhibition offers a fresh exploration of works by artists such as František Kupka, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, John Heartfield, and Claude Cahun, by accentuating the porosity, similarity or even the close rapport between their creations and the films of Charlie Chaplin.

The exhibition focuses on four themes, each introduced by excerpts from Chaplin’s films.

  • Man-Machine explores the dehumanising beauty of machines and how it is reflected in the works of artists such as Fernand Léger and František Kupka.
  • The Poetry of the World conjures up the hidden poetry at the heart of modern life, as interpreted by André Breton, René Magritte, and Claude Cahun.
  • The Show within the Show demonstrates how closely artists such as Alexander Calder and Marc Chagall identified with entertainers and circus performers.
  • The Absurdity of History looks at the tragic element in certain social and historical contexts in the first half of the 20th century, and the role played by artists such as Victor Brauner and Erwin Blumenfeld in highlighting this.

The Tramp as facilitator and a space for visitors at the heart of the exhibition

An internationally recognised and extremely popular figure, the character of the Tramp and his creator Charlie Chaplin act as guides to help visitors discover (or rediscover) avant-garde artists belonging to movements ranging from Russian Constructivism to Dada, and Surrealism.
Charlie Chaplin’s films offer visitors the key to deciphering these different artistic movements more easily.
In the heart of the Patio, there is a central space for young and old alike – The Dream Factory. There are a number of guided tours, and workshops and shows have also been scheduled.

An international exhibition

Europe, the United States, and Russia – the origins of the artists and the provenance of the loans offer an international exploration of modern art. A version of the exhibition entitled Charlie Chaplin: When Art Met Cinema will then travel to the Louvre Abu Dhabi from 5 April to 11 July 2020, the first time this institution will host an exhibition designed by a major regional museum.

An anniversary year

The exhibition is also part of the celebrations marking Charlie Chaplin’s 130th anniversary. In the autumn of 2019, two further exhibitions will offer a re-reading of Chaplin’s work and of the dialogue between art forms: the Philharmonie de Paris exhibition Charlie Chaplin, one-man band from 10/10/19 to 26/01/20, and The Arts and Cinema: happy pairings from 18/10/19 to 10/02/20 at the Musée des Beaux-arts de Rouen.

Charlie Chaplin in the Eye of the Avant-garde is organised with support from Roy Export, and in partnership with Chaplin’s World by Grévin.


Chief Curator:
Sophie Lévy, Director and Curator, Musée d’arts de Nantes.

Scientific curators:
Claire Lebossé, Curator, Musée d’arts de Nantes, responsible for modern art collections; curatorial assistant Zoé Isle de Beauchaine, art historian.


Charlie Chaplin in the Eye of the Avant-garde is organised with support from Roy Export, and in partnership with Chaplin’s World by Grévin.


* Légendes et crédits :
- Charlie Chaplin, Les temps modernes, 1936 © Roy Export S.A.S

- Charlie Chaplin™ © Bubbles Inc. S.A.

From 18 October 2019 to 3 February 2020


Autour de l'exposition

Une programmation culturelle accompagne l’exposition et vous invite à voyager dans le temps.
> Tous les rendez-vous autour de l'exposition dans l'agenda !

Dans le Patio
À la disposition des petits et grands, « L’usine à rêves » propose de nombreuses visites commentées ainsi que des ateliers et spectacles.

Sur les réseaux sociaux
Suivez l'exposition avec le hashtag #Nanteschaplin  !

Un catalogue est publié à l'occasion de l'exposition.


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