What if an artist's fame actually eclipsed his contributions to art? What if his friendships with Picasso and Chanel or Piaf and Gide obscured the versatility of his creations? Such questions are at the center of the monumental retrospective of Jean Cocteau's work opening September 25 at the Pompidou Center in Paris.
Poet, critic, filmmaker, and draftsman, Cocteau remains, 40 years after his death, a paradoxical figure of 20th-century art. At once modern and neoclassical, he is remembered as much for his witty, mondain persona (he did, after all, ask Chanel to design costumes for his Antigone) as for his fantastical creations. Through drawings, photographs, paintings, sculptures, and films—among the latter, the enchanting Beauty and the Beast and his allegorical masterpiece, Orpheus—the show gives justice to Cocteau's multifaceted career and limns his enduring influence. What better tribute to a man who, when told he moved in too many circles, replied, "It would be more accurate to say that everything moves me."