I went to the Centre Pompidou yesterday afternoon, as much for a walk as to see the current Derain exhibit. I have a membership card, so it's easy to wander around, in and out of galleries, without having to consider whether or not to buy a ticket to the current show and whether to spend an hour there or 20 minute or two hours,
So I spent probably about an hour, asking, as the show itself asks, why Derain, so obviously gifted, never pursued his gifts into the first rank of painters of his period. There was the Fauve thing, but it wasn't enough, or durable enough, of an innovation to raise him to the level of his friends, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso, although Picasso borrowed some of his ideas and built on them. Rooms and rooms of Matisse-ish paintings, and why and what did Matisse do that Derain didn't? Less innovation, less exploration, less intellectual structure? He went to Chatou, to Le Pecq, painted the banks of the Seine, stollers; then he went to Collioure, he went to Estaque, he loved the Mediterranean light. It was lovely, but same-same-ish, not provoking, except in trying to define what wasn't there.
Then I spent a little while in the Contemporary collections, recently re-arranged; there was a show devoted to an Indian woman, Nalini Malani, very politically engaged, hot and cold. A Basquiat I liked too.