Oscar Wilde exhibitions 2016

Reading Gaol in 1840

I envy those of you in the Northern Hemisphere; this year you can attend one Oscar Wilde exhibition in Paris and another in Berkshire, England. If you go to either, please share your thoughts and photos with me. I would like to follow Wilde through London and Paris, but 116 years and 16,983 km stand between us (impediments for which Wilde, no doubt, would be grateful).

Open from September 2016 to January 2017 at the Petit Palais, Paris, Oscar Wilde: l’impertinent absolu celebrates Wilde’s life, his love of French culture and his friendships with important French literary and artistic figures. The exhibition is co-curated by Wilde’s grandson, Merlin Holland and you can learn more about it in The Guardian. The Petit Palais is an appropriate venue; it was built for the Exposition Universelle of 1900, which Wilde visited in the last year of his life. (As an Art Nouveau lover, I wish I could travel back in time  to the Exposition and purchase everything Siegfried Bing put on display.) I hope that I’ll be able to buy a l’impertinent absolu catalogue or book from the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris shop since I won’t be able to see the paintings, manuscripts and photographs myself.

Those of you in England will be able to visit Reading Prison, where Wilde served part of his sentence, to hear actors read from Wilde’s letter De Profundis and see how artists and writers have responded to Wilde’s plight as an artist facing punishment and exile. I remember Ralph Fiennes’ intense performance of Beckett’s First Love in Sydney in 2007 and wish I could be there to hear him reading from Wilde’s prison letter, one of my favourite works. The exhibition Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison is on from 4 September to 30 October 2016. Photos from Reading Prison are available on Art Angel’s site and Colm Tóibín discusses De Profundis at The Guardian.

Again, if you attend either exhibition, I would love to hear from you and direct others to your website, blog, Instagram account or wherever it is you record your visit. In the meantime, I’ll be listening to Athena Media’s Wilde Stories.

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