Virtual symposium – “Expanding and Redirecting Historical Research Related to Franco-American Artistic Relationships between 1918 and 1964”

American Season in France

FRAME will host a virtual symposium about Expanding and Redirecting Historical Research Related to Franco-American Artistic Relationships between 1918 and 1964 on Friday, May 21st between 11 AM and 2 PM Eastern Standard Time. This event is organized in collaboration with the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) in Paris.

The symposium is free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. To register, visit:

Three Exhibitions Re-examine French-American Artistic Exchanges in the 20th-Century

Together, the three FRAME exhibitions United States of Abstraction: American Artists in France, 1946-1964 (Musée d’Arts de Nantes and Musée Fabre in Montpellier); Stanley William Hayter and the World in an Atelier: Between Surrealism and Abstraction (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes) and Surrealism in American Art (Centre de La Vieille Charité – Museums of Marseille) are part of the American Season in France. Through the lens of transatlantic artistic relationships, four museums have explored different approaches of Surrealism and Abstraction from the inter-war period to the rise of Contemporary Art in the 1960s. Their research has yielded a re-examination of the mainstream interpretations.

Known as “Studio 17,” the engraving studio created by Stanley William Hayter in 1927 in Paris, which moved to New York City in 1940 and finally returned to the French capital in 1950, was a transatlantic and cosmopolitan lab. It crystallized the continuous exchanges between numerous modernist and avant-gardist artists that include Yves Tanguy, Alberto Giacometti and Maria-Helena Vieira da Silva to Wifredo Lam and André Masson and also Jackson Pollock and Louise Bourgeois, among others.

Through a hundred artworks, the exhibition United States of Abstraction: American Artists in France, 1946-1964, illustrates that Paris still was the cultural destination during the Post-war period for more than 400 artists who came from North America. These artists significantly redefined Abstract Art in France. About 40 of these artists are included in the exhibition in Nantes, among them: Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Ellsworth Kelly.

In addition, while the arrival of European Surrealist artists in exile in New York was a revelation for young local artists in the early 1940s, the exhibition in Marseille demonstrates that Surrealism was already known in the United States since the early 1930s. During years of war, this movement had significant evolutions that gave birth to a transatlantic Surrealism, shared between a figurative approach (such as Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell) and an abstract approach (such as Arshile Gorky and Mark Rothko).

FRAME Conference Organized in Collaboration with INHA

The three exhibitions redefine the profusion of the international art scene and creativity in the middle of the 20th Century in light of the diversity of transatlantic influences. Thanks to new scholarly research in this field, the virtual conference will initiate a dialogue between French and American specialists of this period and will propose a new interpretation of the various artistic relationships that existed between France and the United States from the 1920s to the 1960s.

This event echoes FRAME’s mission which is to promote cultural collaboration between France and the United States by fostering intellectual discussions, exhibitions, and programs between member museums in its network.

In addition to the collaboration between the Museum des Beaux-Arts in Rennes, the Musée d’Arts in Nantes, the Musée Fabre in Montpellier and the Museums of Marseille, which are all members of the FRAME network, the American Season in France is also an occasion to rediscover numerous works of art traveling from the United States and coming from European and French collections.

This event is organized in collaboration with the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) in Paris, which is a cultural hub for research in Art History in France and an esteemed center for scholarly knowledge intended for a global audience of specialists and amateurs.


Dr. Elisa Capdevila, Ph.D., Historian, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris; Research Fellow, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines; and Specialist of Cultural History, more particularly: American intellectuals and artists in France in the Post-war. Passeurs d’art : les “nouveaux expatriés” américains au cœur des relations transatlantiques d’après-guerre.” The role of American artists in the dissemination of American art and their reception by French and European critics and curators.

Lewis Kachur, Professor of Art History, Kean University, Union, New Jersey; and Specialist of Surrealism, American Modernism: Surrealism in the United States of America before World War 2.

Christina Weyl, Art Historian and Independent Curator; Co-president of the Association of Print Scholars in New York; and Specialist on Stanley William Hayter’s Studio 17. Sculpting Gender from Printmaking”

Panel Discussion

A panel discussion, moderated by Catherine Dossin, will reunite the curators of the three exhibitions.

Eric de Chassey, Executive Director of Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) in Paris; Specialist of the Art of the United States and transnational artistic relationships, Abstraction; and Curator of Surrealism in American Art in Marseille.

Catherine Dossin, Catherine Dossin, Associate Professor of Art History at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana; Specialist of geopolitics of the art world, historiography and cultural transfers.

Laurence Imbernon, Curator in Charge of Modern and Contemporary Art, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes; and Curator of Stanley William Hayter and the World in an Atelier in Rennes.

Claire Lebossé, Curator in Charge of Modern Art collections, Musée d’arts de Nantes.

Sophie Lévy, Director and Curator of the Musée d’arts de Nantes.

Maud Marron-Wojewódzki, Curator in charge of Collections of Modern and Contemporary Art, Musée Fabre de Montpellier.

Claire Lebossé, Sophie Lévy and Maud Marron Wojewódzki also curated the exhibition United States of Abstraction in Nantes and in Montpellier.

American Season Program

United States of Abstraction: American Artists in France, 1946-1964
Musée d’Arts de Nantes: from May 19 to July 18, 2021

Musée Fabre in Montpellier: from August 5 to October 21, 2021

Stanley William Hayter and the World in an Atelier: Between Surrealism and Abstraction
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes. The exhibition was originally scheduled to be on view from February 12 to May 3, 2021. Due to the lockdown and the pandemic, a video of the exhibition will be available soon.

Surrealism in American Art
Centre de La Vieille Charité, Marseille: from May 19 to September 26, 2021


Robert Breer, Untitled, 1954, oil on canvas, 96 x 161 cm, Paris, Centre Pompidou - Musée national d'art moderne - Centre de création industrielle © Robert Breer, photo : © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Georges Meguerditchian.