Beware the music

→ From Thursday 4 May 2023 to Tuesday 31 December 2024

The musical worlds of Jean Cocteau

Some signs say: "Beware of painting". I would add: Beware of music. Be on your guard! Be on your guard, for music is the only one of all the arts to be all around you.

Although he is known to music lovers as the "spiritual father" of the Groupe des Six, Jean Cocteau discovered, accompanied, and inspired the new musical forms of the twentieth century. It's a Cocteau paradox: he is neither a composer nor a performer, yet he played an important role in the artistic movements of twentieth-century music.
Fascinated by the modernity of artistic expression, he could not leave out an art that, unlike almost all the others, he never practiced.

The exhibition presents the different forms that Jean Cocteau's passion for music took. As a young man, he enjoyed accompanying his grandfather to Conservatoire concerts, where he discovered classical music. In 1913, Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring definitively transformed his perception of music: in the same way as literature and painting, music had to keep up with the modernity of the new century! Le Coq et l'Arlequin (1918) was a manifesto for French music that did not imitate the German music of Wagner or the Russian music of Stravinsky. With Erik Satie, music had to be "without sauce". Jean Cocteau, the leader of the Groupe des Six, encouraged these young composers, fresh from the Conservatoire, to borrow from music hall and the circus. Jazz and chanson earned their stripes.

"In music, the line is the melody. A return to drawing will necessarily lead to a return to melody."

Curator: Groupement d’intérêt public (GIP) Maison Jean Cocteau
Set design: Frédéric Beauclair