Interview: Marina Ferretti Bocquillon, Musée des impressionnismes – Part 1

Judy MacMahon - Interview Bocquillon - Ma Vie Francaise - My French Life  -

This interview is in English. Click here to read it in French.

We catch up with Marina Ferretti Bocquillon, Scientific Director of the Musée des Impressionismes in Giverny, and curator of the Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists exhibition in Melbourne.

Personal life

Describe yourself in three words.
Marina Ferretti, art historian!

Tell us about the first time a work of art caught your attention.
When I was about four years old I was living with my maternal grandmother in Brussels. There was a big painting in the living room by the Belgian surrealist painter Paul Delvaux (‘Le Cortège en dentelles’, 1936). There was a group of women dressed in lace facing away from the viewer. They were heading towards an arch on the horizon. I often studied this strange, beautiful painting. Today, it is hanging in a gallery in Germany.

What is your favourite artistic movement? Why?


For almost thirty years I’ve explored the work of artists connected with neo-impressionism and I never get bored. I am very fond of the poetic aspect of the “neo” aesthetic, the radical simplicity of its geometric compositions and the bright fragility that the division between colours brings. The powerful originality of chromatic contrasts and harmonies is always there. Professionally speaking, I’ve been lucky enough to explore an area that still has plenty of surprises to offer.

Who is your favourite artist?
I find it so hard to choose. Signac and Seurat will always be in my personal Hall of Fame along with Raphael, Ingres, Monet, Degas, Bonnard and Francis Bacon.

What would your ideal exhibition be?
It would be called ‘The Visitor to the Louvre’ and would show how Bonnard brought a new face to classical sculpture and painting, with the utmost originality in my opinion. Bonnard had both roots and wings. I’ll leave you to imagine the importance of loans to get your hands on these old artworks and Bonnard’s pieces.

Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists


Describe the conservation process of a major international exhibition like Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists. How long does it take and what does it involve?

I first met Ted Gott four years ago and it was to discuss the neo-impressionist exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria! Since then, we have worked together a lot.

It all began with a project on the main ideas of a future exhibition and the ideal list of works to display. It was the best of times, because you can voice almost all your hopes and desires. But reality soon catches up to you – the artworks aren’t always available, they can be too fragile to transport and sometimes they’ve changed hands and it is difficult to track them. And so begins the long adaptation of the project…it’s time to be persuasive, work out alternative solutions, look towards new lenders and activate one’s networks.

It’s a very exciting time and often some really original ideas arise out of difficult situations which help to evolve the original project. We also have to write up the catalogue and make sure it is published. We also organise the transport of artworks, their insurance, their descriptions, the scenography and the communication of the exhibition. The moment of truth comes when the paintings arrive on site one month before the inauguration. The most moving phase of the whole process is hanging them up, as we can really see whether we made good choices.

To be continued…

Translation by Anna Pitt

All images courtesy the National Gallery of Victoria.

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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