With a history dating back 4,000 years, the umbrella has inspired and continues to inspire many artists. In painting, sculpture, street art, song... the umbrella is a veritable source of creativity.

The umbrella in street art

In Paris, umbrellas adorn the streets. The "Le Mouvement" collective, created by Romano, Riks and Tiez, has chosen to reach out to refugees at the Emaüs de la Chapelle center in the 18th arrondissement. The idea: to bring joy, hope and color back to the neighborhoods... But also to create links between people. Thus was born the "Umbrellas all over Paris" project. Using photos, collages and encounters, these works bring together people who don't know each other under an umbrella. The result is a message of openness and solidarity, militating for a more diverse society.

As part of her "Umbrella Sky Project", Portuguese artist Patricia Cunha hangs 800 colorful umbrellas a few meters from the Madeleine. The umbrella sky attracts and amazes passers-by, tourists and the curious. The umbrella becomes the star of modern art. The Portuguese artist drew her inspiration from the film Mary Poppins, in which the umbrella, the famous nanny's only means of transport, plays a central role! The concept: to draw the eye to places that are sometimes overlooked by the public, and to spread joy through color, "coloring life". The concept has since spread to cities such as Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, Carcassonne, Arles, Toulouse, Béziers, and even Tokyo, Seoul and Pensacola in the United States.

The umbrella at the heart of the sculpture

Renowned for his audacity, Greek artist Zongolopoulos was largely inspired by the umbrella. Indeed, the choice of materials he uses to create his works could not be more original. In the midst of Plexiglas, locks, springs and pipes, we discover umbrellas! The use of umbrellas in Zongolopoulos's sculptures is particularly characteristic of the artist.

''In a way, our lives are linked to the umbrella in different situations, like when we're on a date or waiting for a friend...It always appears as a means of defense against nature''. Zongolopoulos' famous "Umbrellas" sculpture, created in 1991, has even become a meeting place in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The umbrella in painting

Painting is surely where you'll find the umbrella the most, and with no apparent boundaries. Here are a few examples:

  • "Woman with parasol" Jules Breton
  • "Place de l'Europe on a rainy day" Gustave Caillebotte
  • "Woman with parasol" Eugène Boudin
  • "Bretonnes aux ombrelles" Emile Bernard
  • "The Reader" Franck Weston Benson
  • "The Yellow Parasol" Edward Cucuel
  • "The 3 parasols" Raoul Dufy 1905
  • "Woman with parasol" Henri Matisse

The surrealist umbrella

The umbrella was a big hit with the Surrealists. It is featured in Magritte's famous 1959 painting "Hegel's Holiday".

In this painting, the Belgian surrealist painter confronts contradictory objects: he combines the umbrella, which repels water, and the water glass, which contains water!

"Beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissection table of a sewing machine and a broken umbrella." This famous quote by Lautréamont, which has neither head nor tail, was illustrated by Agnès Varda, photographer, visual artist and film director, in an atypical triptych!

The umbrella is used in a variety of sound works and performances. It is transformed into a sound diffuser in the work Sono Pluie by the Digital Samovar collective, and becomes an architectural object with artist Bernhard Leitner.

Umbrellas are also used in opera, dance and song. Brassens, for example, in his song "Un ptit coin de parapluie". The umbrella remains a source of ideas in many fields. It inspires so much that China has created the Umbrella Museum: culture, history, works around the umbrella...