Camille Claudel Revisited

Why would the Musée Rodin have another Camille Claudel show just seven years after they hosted her retrospective? Consider what followed on the heels of that exhibition – biographies, TV programs, traveling shows of Claudel’s work in the U.S., Japan and Germany, a 1988 film by Bruno Nuytten (now on videocassette), even a book of poetry written in Claudel’s voice and reprinted five times by Louisiana State University Press. Add to that the countless articles in which the Claudel/Rodin dispute has been tossed about by critics and scholars of nearly every persuasion. Continue reading “Camille Claudel Revisited”

Screaming Ice Cream in French

Two little things happened recently in Paris that peaked my American glands: 1) Haagen Dazs infiltrated my local Prisunic and 2) I “dined” for the first time at Pizza Hut on the rue de Rivoli. Seemingly innocuous events, they nonetheless lent themselves to larger cultural scrutiny and psycho-existential re-positioning. The entrepreneur in me spotted the need for a culinary guide for the French, on American Popular Eats. The purist in me wretched. The menu of details before me read with the cultural differences of our two lands. Continue reading “Screaming Ice Cream in French”

Dollars from Good Scents

On the inside cover of a popular women’s magazine is a picture of a corked perfume bottle bearing Yves Saint Laurent’s name and a slogan, “Its name was forbidden, but women will know to ask for it.” The ad is for the controversial perfume “Champagne,” which after a lawsuit won by the wine producers of one of France’s most famous regions, was forced to change its marketing strategy as well as its label. However, by the time the smoke had cleared from the court battlegrounds, the fragrance appeared to be somewhat a winner, racking up 200 million francs in sales in just three months of existence. In an industry built around dreams, fantasies and image, nothing beats a little scandal to stir up interest and sales.

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Artists Studios as Museums

Paris boasts a collection of nearly 100 museums! Prestigious, world-famous institutions like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay rank high on most people’s list of museums to visit. However, for adventurous spirits, the major museums are just an introduction to the pleasures of discovering the capital’s art treasures. The unique atmosphere of well-known artists’ studios, now open to the public as museums, can’t be beat. Eccentric private and public collections highlight just about every subject imaginable. There are superb museums devoted to the history of wine, counterfeits, locks, perfumes, musical instruments and fashion – to mention just a few. The following suggestions will take you off the beaten track to some interesting homes and studios where famous artists once lived.

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Valentine’s Day in France

As a child I was introduced to St. Valentine’s Day at school like many other American kids. The entire class would run around the room placing colorful valentines and small bits of chalky heart-shaped candies (that our mothers had bought for us at Woolworths) on each other’s desk. This developed into a more serious ritual in the seventh grade after I developed a crush on a boy named Robert O’Kronley. Much to the embarrassment of this 12-year-old boy who scarcely acknowledged my existence, not to mention my teacher who watched me with disapproval, I offered a hand-inscribed card and a heart-shaped box of chocolates to Robert. Later, in high school, after receiving my first satin Hallmark card and heart-shaped box of Whitman’s chocolates, I discovered Valentine’s Day was even more fun when you played by the rules and let the boys do the offering.

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Man Ray, “Les Années Bazaar”

The title of the current Man Ray exhibition, “Les Années Bazaar, Photographies de Mode 1932-1942,” is somewhat misleading. More than a résumé of fashion, “Les Années Bazaar” is comprehensive, retrospective, dynamic and, above all, moving. It testifies to Man Ray’s ability to integrate the often disparate components of a busy life into a coherent oeuvre charged with emotional appeal.

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