“Uprisings” at Jeu de Paume

Paris’ Jeu de Paume hosts a major exhibition this autumn titled “Soulevement,” which translates from French as “Uprisings” (to January 15, 2017). This multimedia exhibition—paintings, video, books, photography— curated by philosopher and art historian Georges Didi-Huberman, reflects on revolts, resistance and protest from Francisco de Goya’s “Los Caprichos (1799) to Maria Koukouta’s (2016) video loop showing immigrants crossing the Greek-Macedonia border.

“Uprisings” contemplates the intersection of art and politics. Along with such historic rarities as Gustave Courbet’s drawing (1848) “Homme en blouse debout sur une barricade,” a book (1851) belonging to Victor Hugo with signatures against the death penalty and a ink drawing by Federico Garcia Lorca “Mierda (1934) the exhibition includes work by contemporary artists such as Tsubasa Kato’s  “Break it Before it’s Broken” (2015) depicting the plight of foreign workers and a film by Enrique Ramirez  “Crossing a Wall” 2013, inspired by the 13th Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although there are artists one would liked to have seen in “Uprisings,” this exhibition is thought provoking and well worth a visit.

Soulevements, (Uprisings) to January 15, 2017, Jeu de Paume, Paris

Photo caption: “Break It Before It’s Broken,” 2015. Laborers of Filipino decent in Malaysia worked together to pull down a structure. This gesture symbolized the breaking of an oppressive system that calls for their deportation. Photo: Tsubasa Kato. ©Tsubasa Kato.

Barbie, an American Icon in Paris

For the first time ever, a major French art museum has dedicated it’s space to one of the most famous American icons of our times….Barbie! Throughout 1500 square meters within the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, 700 dolls tell the story of Barbie and her impact on pop culture. By the nature of the subject matter, it is easy to forget this show is a cultural exhibition and not a toy store display. Continue reading “Barbie, an American Icon in Paris”

Francesca Woodman at Fondation HCB

The Fondation Henri Cartier Breson revisits the photographer Francesca Woodman with a thematic overview exhibition of her work titled “on Being an Angel.” (until July 31, 2016). Woodman (1958-1981) is known for her enigmatic stage-managed blurred black and white photos featuring either herself or female models often nude.  Her intimate autobiographical approach to the medium has inspired a generation of young photographers.

Her photography made almost exclusive use of her own body: “It’s a matter of convenience,” she explained, “I’m always available.” Despite her premature passing at the age of twenty-two, Woodman left an impressive body of work. Much of it done while she was a photo student at RISD. And while the pictures betray a host of influences ranging from Symbolism to Surrealism, her own talent was as prodigious as it was precocious.

It’s hard to look at Woodman’s photos without thinking of her suicide. She has been called the Sylvia Plath of photography. Her staging in desolated rooms, her ghostly body presence in the middle of spaces in decay, the abandoned houses with surreal peeling paint and ripped wallpaper are at once intense, a little naive, gothically dark and tinged with melancholy. For some “On Being an Angel” will be as much about Woodman’s pictures as a contemplation of the short life of an extremely talented young photographer starting out during the late seventies.

Francesca Woodman, On Being An Angel, to July 31, 2016,   Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson, 2, Impasse Lebouis, 75014 Paris

Henri Rousseau… Paradise & Jungles

Paris’ Musée d’Orsay tributes legendary French 19th century painter Henri Rousseau with an exhibition “Le Douanier Rousseau, L’Innocence Archaique” placing him in the context of his times (to July 17, 2016).  Rousseau, (1844-1910) famed for his dreamlike atmospheres, enchanted landscapes and jungle scenes, was an important figure in art during the late 19th century and the early days of Modernism. He is still hard to categorize. Was he an inspired self-taught Naif or a harbinger of Modern Art? Maybe both.

The exhibition compares his painting with several of his sources of inspiration,  and paintings by his contemporaries such as Seurat, Delaunay, Kandinsky and Picasso. Divided into thematic sections, the exhibition presents a number of the French painter’s most renowned masterpieces including “The Snake Charmer”  and “Myself” (1889–90), which he wrongly regarded as the first “landscape-portrait” in the history of art, “The Poultry Yard” (1896–98), purchased by Kandinsky and shown at the first Blaue Reiter exhibition in Munich, and “War or The Ride of Discord” (1894) painted with what Rousseau’s admirer Ardengo Soffici described as “childlike innocence.”

Le Douanier Rousseau, L’Innocence Archaique, Musée d’Orsay to July 17, 2016.

Paris’ Museum Night 2016

The Nuit des Musées is a chance to go museum hopping in Paris for free (until midnight May 21). The aim of the event, organized by the French Ministry of Culture, is to encourage people to get out and see some art. No excuses! In addition to art exhibitions the evening includes workshops, concerts, installations and performances.
Most of the city’s museums will be participating including the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, Arts and Metiers Museum, Palais de la Découverte and Decorative Arts Museum. For the biggies be prepared to stand in long lines. The “Nuit” takes place in thirty cities around Europe. Last year, over 1300 museums in France participated in the European Museum Night, and over 2 million people attended throughout Europe.

In addition to Nuit des Musées future fests organized by Paris include the Fête de la Musique celebrating the start of summer (June 21st) , Heritage Days in September, Paris Summer Quarter Fest, which starts July 14th and Bastille Day’s Night street dances July 13-14.

Frenchilation Takes “Five”

Lost in Frenchilation presents “Five” with English subtitles Friday May 20th. The film is a 2016 French comedy film, written and directed by Igor Gotsman and starring Pierre Niney. “Five” is about a group of five childhood friends who take up the opportunity to live together in an expensive Paris apartment. In order to fund the group’s lifestyle, Pierre Niney’s character, Samuel, becomes a drug dealer.

“The Hollywood Reporter” compared the film’s humour to that of recent American comedies, calling the film “a lively and often rather funny affair, dishing out oodles of sex, drugs and hip-hop, with plenty of below-the-belt humor a l’americaine.

The screening is an English-speaking community project that begins with conversation (8pm) with friends and a film-themed cocktail (€5) at the historic Studio 28 theater. The screening is 9:15pm. Studio 28, 10 rue Tholozé, Montmartre 75018 Paris Tickets: €7.50.

Fashion Forward in Paris

‟Fashion Forward, 3 Centuries of Fashion (1715-2016)” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs brings together 300 items of men’s, women’s and children’s fashion from the 18th century to today, selected from the museum’s collections to provide a  chronological overview (to August 14, 2016).

France has long been associated with fashion and style.  It is widely credited as beginning during the reign of Louis XVI when the luxury goods industries in France came increasingly under royal control and the French royal court became the arbiter of taste and style in Europe. At the close of the 18th century, Paris contained 262 embroiderers, 1824 shoemakers, 1702 dressmakers and 128 fan-makers. Continue reading “Fashion Forward in Paris”

Eternal Sites at Grand Palais

According to UNESCO  the six World Heritage sites in Syria have been damaged, pillaged or completely destroyed. With stunning 360 degree panoramic 3D visuals the “Eternal Sites” exhibition (until January 9, 2017) virtually revisits four major archaeological sites: Khorsabad (Iraq), Palmyra (Syria) the Great Mosque of Damascus (Syria) and the Kerak Crusader Castle (Syria). Continue reading “Eternal Sites at Grand Palais”

Mystical France

“A Guide to Mystical France, ” is a magical mystery tour of the sacred sites of France from prehistoric cave paintings to majestic Gothic cathedrals to the secrets of the Knights Templar. This well-researched thoughtful book, written by British-born writer-photographer Nick Inman (who now lives in southwest France) is for people who have probably already seen the Mona Lisa and Eiffel Tower and want to have a deeper, more meaningful experience of France.

Inman has been traveling around France writing guide books for the last 15 years for major publishers. What makes this guide book special is that it reflects his personal interest in unknown, eccentric out-of-the way places and in the stories of the curious, esoteric and inexplicable. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of more than 30 books, including “Eyewitness Spain,” “The Optimist’s Handbook,” and the “Road Less Traveled: Amazing Places Off the Tourist Trail” and “Who on earth are you? : a field guide to identifying and knowing yourself.”

Setting the tone for his book Inman describes what he considers a mystical place. “It enables me to get out of myself, out of time and away from “here” it puts me in the presence of the sacred, wondrous and unintelligible. It encourages me to disengage my rational, logical mind and inhabit the expansive, higher me… it also allows me to feel more myself, more awake, aware and alive than normally… it allows me to feel connected to everyone and everything else, and to see my self in context….”

France is one of the most-vistied countries and yet full of secrets that most visitors don’t know about. The first part of the book looks at mystical France thematically through chapters on such themes as pilgrimage routes, cave painting, megalithic monuments, Romanesque and Gothic churches, the Cathars, alchemy and the survival of mysticism in the modern world. Interspersed with these chapters are a a number of vignettes examining specific topics such as labyrinths, legends, sacred geometry and monasteries. The book concludes with a travel guide detailing a selection of interesting mystical sights in France to visit along with practical advice and websites for more information.

”A Guide to Mystical France: Secrets, Mysteries, Sacred Sites” by Nick Inman,  Buy the book here: //www.findhornpress.com/a-guide-to-mystical-france

Ugo Mulas “La Photographie”

The Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson hosts an exhibition of work by Italian photographer Ugo Mulas (1928-1973) noted for his portraits of artists and street photography. The exhibition “La Photographie,” corresponds with a new book— a French translation of his classic oeuvre—featuring Mulas’ photos of the 60-70’s art scene along with his thoughts about the nature of the medium itself (to April 24, 2016).

Ugo Mulas, although not well known outside the photo cognoscenti, was a major figure of twentieth century Italian photography. He worked for a number of Italian magazines and did commercial work for advertising campaigns including clients such as Pirelli and Olivetti. While covering the Spoleto Festival in 1962 he befriended sculptor Alexander Calder, who later became a major subject of Mulas’ photography and writing.

Mulas photographed Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and many other artists while documenting the Pop Art scene. This exhibition brings together most of the photographs selected by Mulas for publication in his legendary book “La Fotografia” where he analyzed art, artists and photography. Way ahead of his time, about what is worthy of being photographed he said “all moments are fleeting, they are all worthy, and the least significant moment can be in fact the most exceptional.”

The photos in the exhibition feel “honest.” They are both documents and autobiographical. We sense that the photographer sincerely enjoyed the moments he photographed. In addition to photos of artists the exhibition includes his more abstract “Verifications” photos where he contemplates the essence of the medium. These photographs were included a couple of months ago in the Pompidou Center’s exhibition “What is Photography.”

Ugo Mulas, “La Photographie” until April 24, 2016,  Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson, 2, impasse Lebouis, 75014.