Charles Ratton. The invention of the “primitive” arts at Musée du quai Branly

Opening June 25th and running until September 22, the Paris Musée du quai Branly presents an exhibition on Charles Ratton (1895-1986).

Charles Ratton. The invention of the “primitive” arts wishes to highlight the view of Charles Ratton, an expert, dealer and collector who changed the history of the way “primitive” art was received, by promoting objects which moved away from the taste for “negro” art that had prevailed up to that time.

Charles Ratton Quai Branly

His close involvement in the museum world and his scientific curiosity, shown in the richness of his archives, helped his expertise to flourish. His activities as an expert, and the exhibitions he organised, contributed to the shift in status of works from Africa, America and Oceania: from anthropological study objects to works of art in the 1930s, then masterpieces in the 1960s, in France but also in the United States.

The portrayal of his links with the artists (the Surrealists, Dubuffet) and photography (“documentary” and artistic photography: Man Ray) helps to highlight this shift towards art and history. The exhibition of objects from the “Early Periods” enables us to appreciate the nuances and context of Charles Ratton’s taste for objects which were ultimately an “entertainment” for him, the earlier illuminating the later and vice versa.

Charles Ratton

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