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The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco presents Christian Bérard: Excentrique Bébé

July 9–October 16, 2022

From July 9 to October 16, 2022, Villa Paloma will host an exhibition honoring the work of artist Christian Bérard (1902–1949) organized by the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco.

Excentrique by Christian Bérard The NMNM program of exhibitions honoring the avant-garde aesthetics created by Serge de Diaghilev in Monte Carlo is continued by Bébé. The cross-disciplinary approach used by the founder of the Ballets Russes during the 1910s and 1920s led to a profound shift of the decorative arts and continues to have an impact on visual and performance art today, heralding some parts of contemporary art.

Following the shows Portraits d’Intérieurs and Designing Dreams, a Celebration of Leon Bakst, the NMNM’s chief curator, Célia Bernasconi, is continuing her conversation with the artist Nick Mauss from 2014 with the aim of showcasing Christian Bérard’s extraordinary modernity, also known to his friends as Bébé.

The show, which has an off-centered viewpoint, is based on the idea of “eccentric modernisms,” as defined by American scholar Tirza True Latimer. She suggests an inclusive reevaluation of established art history in order to rethink artists who have been pushed to its outskirts.

Eccentric: Bérard worked freely in many artistic circles and fields. A painter, a designer of sets and costumes for theatre and film productions, a fashion designer and interior designer, he was long criticised for spreading his talents too widely in the so-called minor arts to the detriment of his painting.
Eccentric: the doll-faced Bébé would receive guests in his bedroom and regularly posed lying in bed. His portraits, associated with the sets he designed for the stage and cinema, and his most prestigious interior designs, are a manifestation of Bérard’s exuberant theatricalization of his personal self.
Eccentric: it was far from Paris, among his friends and patrons who lived by the Mediterranean that he created some of his most emblematic works, which were often inspired by the Italian painters of the Quattrocento.

The exhibition

The exhibition makes reference to the locations connected with Bérard’s numerous stays in the south and includes interior views and Mediterranean landscapes. These locations include Monte Carlo, where he created his first designs for the Ballets Russes in 1932, Tamaris, where he had his studio during the summer, the Lily Pastré estate in Marseille, and the villa owned by Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles in Hyères. Christian Bérard’s interactions and partnerships with the major artists of the time, including Jean Cocteau, Louis Jouvet, Christian Dior, and Gabrielle Chanel, are depicted in more than 300 paintings, drawings, photographs, and interior decorations.

The works of Nick Mauss, who adopt Bérard’s methods to re-entangle the practices of drawing, writing, and decoration and establish a continuity between staged and home spaces, recall Bérard as a lost practitioner of modernism’s irreverence throughout the exhibition.

Design by Jacques Grange

The decorator Jacques Grange, an expert on Christian Bérard’s work and motivated by a passion instilled in him by Yves Saint Laurent, is developing an exhibition design that deviates from the traditional norms of museography. He pays homage to the renowned interiors the artist produced with Jean-Michel Frank, the great decorator of the 1930s, by cunningly playing with the aesthetic rules of a typical house in Monaco that Bérard may have lived in.


Co-published by the NMNM and Flammarion, the catalogue Christian Bérard, Excentrique Bébé will feature new texts on the artist’s work written by Célia Bernasconi (chief curator at the NMNM and curator of the exhibition); Marika Genty (Historical Heritage Officer at CHANEL); Jacques Grange (exhibition designer and decorator); Jérôme Hanover (fashion historian); Nick Mauss (artist); Pierre Passebon (collector); Jean-Pierre Pastori (dance historian); Tirza T. Latimer (professor emeritus of Art History, California College of Art); and Aurélie Verdier (curator at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou).

With the exclusive support of CHANEL.

Nouveau Musée National de Monaco – Villa Paloma
56 boulevard du Jardin Exotique
98000 Monaco