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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Interview: Quentin Tarantino

Flavor of the Month or Taste of Things to Come? October 1992

Anyone who shies away from the vivid torture sequence in writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s startling debut film, “Reservoir Dogs,” might like to know that it’s one of Quentin’s mom’s two favorite scenes.The other one is the opening credits passage, about ten minutes into the picture, during which the eight crooks whose jewel heist is about to go awry stride across the parking lot of a Los Angeles restaurant in slow motion, clad in black suits with white shirts and skinny ties, not a former altar boy in the bunch.”They all look so male,” Mrs. Tarantino is reported to have said when confronted with the poeticized ne’er-do-wells played by Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen, Eddie Bunker and Quentin himself. Continue reading “Interview: Quentin Tarantino”

Dennis Hopper, “Out of the Sixties”

Dennis Hopper was in Paris recently for the opening of his photographic exhibition “Out of the Sixties” – a propitious title for a show of images that not only document the free-spirited, boundary-bursting, and truth-seeking period that created them but also act as a visual reminder of how far we’ve veered from idealistic pursuits. Out of the Sixties, although published first as a book by Twelve Trees Press in 1986, applies as much to the origin of the pictures as to the current status of the viewer. Gallery owner Thaddaeus Ropac called the exhibition “a time capsule.” Continue reading “Dennis Hopper, “Out of the Sixties””

Paris…a city for lovers

Feature, May 1992

Springtime in Paris is synonymous with love the world round. One sighs just thinking about it. Ahhhhh, yes… It’s time to put the top down, get a haircut, hold the stomach in, bleach your teeth. The hormones are working overtime and anything seems possible – seductions of epic dimensions, successful conquests right out of the Greek myths, peak experiences to rival the Alps. Mating behavior – with its stern accompaniment of catcalls and racy one-liners – is the central rite of the Parisian spring. Continue reading “Paris…a city for lovers”

Paris… a Day at the Races

Feature, Horse Racing in Paris, April 1992
Although no “Hemingway-sat-here” plaques adorn the grandstands of the 8 Paris racetracks, the American writer was a regular horseplayer when he lived here from 1921 to 1926. In fact, the French racing establishment has done little or nothing to attract tourism, not even one brochure at tourist info centers. As a result, the racing spectacle is one of Paris’ best kept secrets. Continue reading “Paris… a Day at the Races”

An American (designer) in Paris

Fashion focus: Patrick Kelly, Peter Kea, Gregg Snyder and John Arthur Speight, April, 1992

There was a time when Americans never dared think of selling clothes to the French. After all, we were always considered to be lacking in taste, particularly in our dress. As times and attitudes have changed, fashion has become more international, less localized. The spectacular success of the late Patrick Kelly, for one, has lured others to test the waters this side of the Atlantic. Currently there are Americans working freelance, as assistants, and these four entrepreneurs who’ve dared to start their own businesses. Continue reading “An American (designer) in Paris”

Place Vendôme… All That Glitters

A series of 17th-century buildings, dotted with gargoyles and fitted together in a symmetrical octagon, serves as a backdrop to one of the most dazzling areas of Paris: Place Vendôme. Under the watchful eye of Napoleon, perched high atop a 144-foot bronze column, the world’s most coveted gems are transformed into extravagant trinkets for the world’s rich and famous personalities. Spellbinding names like Boucheron, Cartier, Chaumet and Van Cleef & Arpels all boast of a rich and opulent history that has withstood the test of time and continues to flourish, much like the centuries-old square itself.

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Conversation with David Cronenberg

William Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” was “unfilmable,” but Canadian wizard David Cronenberg went ahead and adapted it to the screen anyway. Discerning fans of altered states of consciousness will delight at the matter-of-fact way in which Cronenberg has incorporated a Mugwump here, a Sex Blob there, a very proficient talking anus and word processing machines whose software hearkens back to the primeval slime.

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