Past exhibitions

Tree Art

8 February - 20 September 2020

As of 2020, the museum has decided to regularly renew the works on display. 

Every year, a group of inhabitants from the region will be invited to design their own exhibition so as to gain more varied points of view and more discoveries. This new approach will bring works in storage - and therefore less often on display - out to be admired by the public. 

For this first exhibition, we have handed over the reins to six agents from the Brest Métropole Parks and Gardens Department whose creativity and attention to visual details had been noticed, particularly in the design of the autumnal decorations.

The aim was not to select works based on a set historic or aesthetic framework, but rather to demonstrate that many artists have been inspired by trees throughout the centuries.

The theme of trees was chosen in line with current scientific focuses and the numerous publications discussing their particular intelligence. It echoes the work by Alexandre Hollan, La Grande Roue [Ferris Wheel] (2011), gifted by the artist in 2018.

True life is elsewhere ! Women artists around Marta Pan : Simone Boisecq, Charlotte Calmis, Juana Muller, Véra Pagava, Judit Reigl

27 June 2019 - 5 Januar 2020

This exhibition pays tribute to foreign women artists, born “ elsewhere ”, or outside France, who have had the courage to leave their native land to come and experience the adventure of artistic creation in France.

They have chosen abstraction as their preferred means to express this “elsewhere” that they were seeking in their art and in their lives. Voluntary exile is always a risky experience… and a productive one. For these artists, thirsting for freedom, it would become an incomparable medium for emancipation, throwing them into the unknown, perhaps in order to make themselves rely on the creative potential that is present in each and every one of us.

The six artists presented at the museum, through 46 original artworks, arrived in France between 1920 and 1950. Whether through sculpture, like Marta Pan with Les Lacs in the rue de Siam, which have become a great source of pride for the town, or through painting, collage or even poetry, they have created an unusual world with contemporary resonances, demonstrating the importance of creative works by women in the artistic reputation of France.

Anatomy of a Museum

24 February–-16 September 2018

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, we are planning to explore its origins in an exhibition that looks at the story of the collections from when they were first formed in 1875 to the inauguration of the present museum in 1968.

These collections reflect the city of its birth, with rich and varied artworks from all over the world, with its gaze turned towards the sea, the horizon and voyages, with its passion to heal the wounds of war by looking to the future and reinventing itself with a new identity, and by generating innovative ideas and astonishing projects.

From the time when the walls of the Halle des Blés were completely covered with paintings, and including the rescue, under extreme conditions, of works threatened by the bombs of the Second World War, you will discover the turbulent history of an atypical museum which, finally, became the Fine Art Museum of the Brest metropolitan area. Come and see the anatomy of your museum in the light of its past.


1 July – 26 November 2017

Guillaume Pinard has been approached by the Musée des Beaux-Arts with a proposal to take the museum’s collection and devise a series of possible combinations between works from the museum’s reserves, the majority of which have never, or rarely, been exhibited before, and contemporary creative works. Invited by Guillaume Pinard,  ten artists will participate in a reinterpretation to make this exhibition a space of original experimentation.

You will therefore see the works of Henni Alftan, Azadeh Ardalan, Victor Calliat, Maurice Chabas, Anne-Sophie Convers, Sonia Delaunay, Hélène Farges, Vidya Gastaldon, Guillaume Guillon-Lethière, James Hamilton Hay, Paul Leroy, François Lunven, Paul Mathey, René Ménard, Marie-Claire Mitout, Vera Molnár, Guillaume Pinard, Henri Rivière, Anne Marie Rognon, Elsa Sahal, Julia Scalbert, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, and Charlotte Vitaioli, along with a collection of Roman ex-votos from the 2nd century BC.

“It will be summer when the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Brest hosts this exhibition. I picture this building as a beautiful moonlit garden in which each of us can take the time to surrender ourselves, to make ourselves available to new encounters. I know that both our

emotions and our thoughts cannot be reduced to measurements of understanding, that the profile of one’s life does not constitute the whole face, that each one of us, whether an artist in the museum’s collection, an invited artist, a regular visitor or a visitor for just one day, will have special reasons for coming into this garden. Therefore, I do not wish to spoil this celebration with an agenda, nor guide you through it, but I simply wish to open the door to the pleasure of reunions.” Guillaume Pinard.

The exhibition was organised in partnership with BASE, a project initiated by Documents d’Artistes Bretagne and the École Européenne Supérieure d’Art de Bretagne.

Dilasser, Drawing

5 November 2016 – 9 April 2017

François Dilasser (1926-2012) lived and worked in Lesneven and Brignogan, in Finisterre. Self-taught, he decided to devote himself exclusively to his art in the 1970s. Well-known as a painter, he nevertheless continued to draw in pencil, ink, acrylic or even with a screwdriver.

While the museum has no fewer than seven paintings acquired thanks to the generosity of the artist and his family, this exhibition aims to pay tribute to a less well-known aspect of his art: his drawings.

Fascinated by the expressive possibilities of graphic art, François Dilasser fully embraced drawing as an art in its own right, a fundamental element of his artistic production. Motivated by a subtle quest for the harmony of signs, forms and colours, his drawings are also characterised by an exploration into the construction and organisation of space. Considered as the supreme art form, Dilasser’s drawing is not reduced to mere studies. On the contrary he regards it as an end in itself, suitable for creating a unique repertoire of series of forms.

Through a selection of one hundred previously unseen drawings, the exhibition offers the visitor an opportunity to go right to the heart of François Dilasser’s creative process. It is presented in an unusual way by Alain L’Hostis, architect, and the workshops of Brest Métropole.

Nothing at all - Hypothèses de coexistence

18 November 2016 – 26 February 2017


In Nothing At All, Hypotheses of Coexistence, David Ryan and Jérôme Joy attempt to construct spaces stripped of all constraints, where everyone is in the world, free to live and test out his or her own choices.

Jérôme Joy (born in 1961) is a composer and musician active on the international experimental and improvised music scene. David Ryan (born in 1960) is developing a visual approach using drawing and video, and personifying, since 2009, the character of the clover hunter. The installation that they are developing together in the Artothèque Gallery and in the museum’s main gallery combines video, a new sound and musical creation and drawings, some of which will be produced in situ. Based on the narrative of the clover hunter’s life – with selections of real or imaginary facts – this artistic project explores the different levels of the present, involving the notion of commitment and coexistence, limitations and thresholds. The artists thus propose a poetic and committed work linked to life, its joys and its blows.

This exhibition was co-produced with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, where it was presented from 23 June to 11 September 2016. It is a follow up to a research project that benefited from the support of the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (Support for a research project / production, 2015) and also the support of Le Quartier, contemporary art centre of Quimper.

Her majesty, the swing bridge

Exhibition from 5 April to 18 September 2016

As part of Brest 2016 and to celebrate Brest’s new cable car, this exhibition explores the representations of a work of Brest maritime art: the swing bridge. Also known as the Pont Imperial then the Pont National, this metallic structure built in 1861 and destroyed in 1944 linked the banks of Penfeld without impeding the passage of ships.

When painters, engravers and photographers turned their attention to the subject of the swing bridge, they did not simply depict a portrait: by claiming ownership of it, they raised it to the status of a monument. Photographers emphasised the monumental nature of its architecture - which was the subject of much debate at the time of its construction - from different perspectives, while illustrators and engravers attempted to magnify it using enhancive layouts. Initially praised as a new level of technical mastery, the bridge quickly became a tourist attraction. Postcards and souvenirs reflected this infatuation with a work of art that had become the symbol of the city of Brest.

Beyond the swing bridge, artists attested in their own way to the prominence of metallic constructions in art in general. This new aesthetic, which appeared in Brest in 1860 and spread within a decade, reconciled beauty and functionality.

Pierre Péron (1905- 1988), a modern graphic designer

From 2 July 2015 to 3 January 2016

Though Pierre Péron is known as a painter as well as a Brest resident who was an ardent admirer of his city and its inhabitants, he is less known as a graphic artist. However, from his Parisian studio where he worked for years, he did design drawings, posters, engravings, and even carved wooden letters that translate the artist’s creativity and originality.

His little-known posters are permeated with the spirit of the most innovative poster designers of the interwar period and express an exceptional freedom of tone and form. He created engravings for artists of the Seiz-Breur movement who called for a modern form of art inspired by Breton traditions. These engravings are as different from his posters as they are from his friends’ engravings. Humour and poetry occupy a prominent place. He drew just as much inspiration from his supple and lively stroke when he designed typographies and when he worked as an illustrator. And when Hermès ordered patterns for their famous silk scarves from him or when Kelt entrusted him with designing jewellery, he worked vigorously on creating inspired graphic designs.

The Italian masters of the Museum of Brest

30 April 2014 - 4 January 2015

Italy in Brittany ? It may seem like a strange idea. Yet it’s through such a trip that the museum of fine arts invites you to embark on through its exhibition of the most beautiful 17th and 18th century Italian paintings housed in Brest.

Who knew that Brest held a first-rank collection of Italian paintings? The collection is often on loan - in 2013 and 2014 to the museum of fine arts, Quimper and to the museum of fine arts, Rennes for the exhibition De Véronese à Casanova, and recently displayed in Rome.

Having been recently restored, the collection is being studied through new sources that have broadened our understanding of the works. The collection is on display today in its entirety with a curatorial effort to provide rich textual explanations, audiovisual material and opportunities for interaction. For the purpose of the exhibition, the gallery of ancient paintings has been restored and modernized.

Anna Quinquaud : a sculptor in Africa

4 February 2014 - 17 May 2014

Anna Quinquaud (1890-1984), high sculptor of the first half of the twentieth century and recipient of the first Second Prix de Rome, enjoyed embarking on faraway, solitary adventures in Africa. While there, she committed herself to the exploration of the African continent, a subject which soon became a great source of inspiration. Like Anita Conti or Karen Blixen, Anna Quinquaud is part of a group of notable women who were ahead of their time, free to explore the world in pursuit of their passion. Her work pays homage to Africa’s beauty and its ancestral traditions.

The majority of the exhibition is made up of works conserved by the Museum of Fine Arts, Brest since the artist donated the collection in 1980. Since, the collection has been exhibited in Guéret, Gray, Mont-de-Marsan, Roubaix and La Rochelle. It is nationally recognized by the Minister of Culture and Communication. The exhibition, which is made up of more than 80 sculptures, drawings and documents, allows the public to truly discover this little-known artist and her extraordinary work.

Painters of Pont-Aven at the museum of Brest

29 may 2013 - 5 January 2014

The museum of Brest conserves a set of paintings, drawings, prints and unpublished sculptures by artists from the School of Pont Aven and Nabis. This exposure fed by works brought out of the reserves, shows the place which they hold in the new approaches of the art history.

The set so attempts to show the evolution of artists involved in the influence of Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard, by the theorizations of Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier. It also reports on recent researches setting Emile Bernard, which the museum preserves 12 works, at the centre of the birth of aesthetics of Pont-Aven, previously assigned exclusively to Gauguin.

It shows what the synthetic forms encircled with an outline, a flat of pure colours, the atypical centrings of their works owe to Paul Sérusier, to Emile Bernard, to Georges Lacombe that the museum keeps a surprising monumental sculpture, also to Armand Seguin, to Charles Filiger without forgetting underestimated Henri-Gabriel Ibels known as the Nabi journalist and Maxime Maufra which occupied a place of choice. The route of the exhibition goes on by a cabinet of drawings with pastels of Claude-Émile Schuffenecker, studies of Henry Moret, a gouache of Jan Verkade and a portrait of Charles Filiger's.

Ode to rain

17 April – 10 November 2013

The rain is the theme explored in this exhibition. It’s translation -often glorified- in Art and its significance in the history of Ideas. Fascinated by the atmospheric manifestations, where Man has no control, many artists who have confronted this challenge of representation. How difficult is it to realize that this element is immaterial and ephemeral.

From the 18th century to our days, the exhibition finds a new vision of the rain thought different forms. Painting, engraving, photography, literary extracts and objects resulting from popular arts associated in space so as to provide visitors in a poetic journey. Alfred Sisley, as much as Paul Sérusier, Henri-Gabriel Ibels or even Eugène Boudin were qualified by Corot, King of skies who have taken this theme to deliver a magnified picture.

These ancient works will be placed in perspective with a contemporary production from evanescent works of Geneviève Asse to the writings of Patrick Tosani about the rain.

La vague japoniste. Les peintres en Bretagne

10 July - 4 November 2012

This exhibition is presented in the context of the Bretagne-Japon 2012 event, and immerses us in the vogue for all things Japanese in the period when Japan was opening up to the western world.

The discovery of Japanese art by westerners, through the dissemination of ukiyo-e (literally "pictures of the floating world") prints, led artists to renew the way they represented nature, transforming their compositions and intensifying the hues. Inspired by Japonism, some spent time in Brittany, where the sea became their favourite subject.

From impressionist echoes to the lessons of Pont-Aven, including the legacy of classical landscapes, the exhibition brings together the finest works of artists who showed Brittany from a perspective inspired by Japanese art (Georges Lacombe, Émile Bernard, Paul Sérusier, Maurice Denis, Émile Jourdan, Jean-Francis Auburtin, Henri Rivière, Henry Moret, Maxime Maufra and René Quillivic), presented in juxtaposition with woodblock prints by Japanese artists (Hiroshige, Hokusai, Kuniyoshi).

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