Happy moments, here and there

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The young couple Alix and Matthew Inman with some of their cousins and siblings

The event of the week end for me was of course the wedding of my niece Alix de Gramont, an organizational change strategist, who lives in Brooklyn but chose with her husband Matthew Inman, a music critic and writer, to come to France to tie the knot or seal the vows…as you wish.  The French American ceremony was intimate in the garden of the family house with lots of cousins and children running around and a perfect evening organized by the good fairy, Fabienne de Sèze.Read More

A flower magician and an Italian artist make wonders together

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A huge flower vase with Jérome Bonaparte’s portrait at the Ministry of Culture

The annual Gala dinner of the Friends of Chantilly celebrated the Duc d’Aumale’s two hundredth anniversary at the Palais Royal, in Paris, where he was born on January 16, 1822. Built by Richelieu in 1628, it was Anne d’Autriche’s and the young Louis XIV th residence in the 17 th century. It then became the palace of the Orléans family. Today the gilt salons are part of the ministry of Culture and the occasion was especially chic, with Prince Amyn Aga Khan giving a charming speech on Musée Condé’s new acquisitions. The day before, the Friends had been shown the very exceptional “Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry” (probably the most famous manuscript in the world) by the curator of Chantilly’s library Marie-Pierre Dion.  Read More

Sam Szafran at l’Orangerie, a disappointment

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Imprimerie Bellini, July-September 1972, private collection

I love Sam Szafran for having seen his paintings many times, first in the early 1980’s, his staircases on rue de Seine, then in Martigny and at Musée de la Vie Romantique with Daniel Marchesseau and at Galerie Claude Bernard, a long time friend and supporter. So I was probably expecting too much from this new show of sixty pastels, watercolors and charcoal, “Sam Szafran, Obsessions of a painter” at Musée de l’Orangerie, just below Monet’s waterlilies and next to the beautiful Renoir and Cézanne of the Walter Guillaume collection. The walls are bland white, the paintings hang far from each other as if there was too much space in the rooms, there is no atmosphere and the stunning works but seem soulless.

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The Sun shines over Musée Marmottan Monet

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Paul Signac, The harbor at Sunset, Opus 236 (Saint Tropez), 1892, Hasso Plattner Collection

The theme, “Facing the sun” could sound a little common for an exhibition at Musée Marmottan Monet but when you learn that this new show is celebrating the 150 th anniversary of Monet’s iconic painting, “Impressions, Sunrise” painted from his little hotel room in le Havre on November 13, 1872, it suddenly makes sense. And it is an occasion to show a number of chefs d’oeuvre which were lent by 53 private collectors and museums. My favorite is the mysterious Caspar David Friedrich‘s “Easter Morning” and Carlo Saraceni‘s three paintings of “Icarus’ flight”. But Antonio Cicognara’s medieval tarot cards are fabulous, Charles de la Fosse’s “Sunrise”, Courbet, Boudin, Pissarro, Turner, Derain’s multicolored  “Big Ben” and Otto Dix fascinating black and white “Sunrise” are superb.  The Barberini museum in Potsdam is co-curating the show. There are also a few contemporary painters and I met the charming Franco American painter Vicky Colombet while her painting “Rising Sun” was being hung.Read More

Oskar Kokoschka, a precursor of Jean Michel Basquiat?

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“Vater Hirsch”, 1909, Linz, Lentos Kunstmuseum

Dieter Buchhart and Anna Karina Hofbauer, the two Austrian and Danish curators of the show “Oscar Kokoschka, un fauve à Vienne” at MAM Paris, are passionate. And they speak with great talent about Kokoschka’s “revolutionary” style at the time of Klimt and Schiele, the shock waves he sent to the public and the critics, who called him “Oberwidling” (savage) and the influence he would have in the 1970’s on such painters as Julian Schnabel or Markus Lüpertz. He was immensely famous in his lifetime and behaved in wild ways during the Habsburg monarchy. In 1909, he entirely shaved his head, was very innovative technically and fought for his status as an artist. Fanny Schulmann is the French co-curator who worked with them during the four years it took to put this large retrospective together. And they all agreed it was a “Long journey”, full of endless telephone calls. It is the first show of the artist ever to take place in a non German speaking country and the 75 major paintings, and many drawings, cover the six periods of his life in Vienna, Dresden, Prag, Paris, London and Montreux where he died at 93. Read More

Jef Aérosol, celebrates 40 years of stencil art

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“Towers”, 2022, galerie Mathgoth, Jean Nouvel’s new towers in the 13 th

He loved English and American culture and became an English teacher, but he also liked to play the guitar and to paint. Jef Aerosol decided in 2008 that he had taught long enough and became a full time artist. He started using stencil forty years ago in 1982 and is now one of France’s foremost street artist. His first experience was in Tours, when he decided to paint the walls of the town in the early eighties. Jef Aerosol is very charming and speaks naturally about the different phases of fashion in his art. In the 1980’s, there was Speedy Graphito one of his friends, in the 1990’s, he enjoyed the hip hop and in 2000 it was Biritsh artist Banksy. You can discover his most recent installation and portraits until November 5, in an empty space at 147 ave de France across the street from Bibliothèque Nationale de France. And if you wander around Beaubourg, you probably already know his piece “Chuuuttt”painted high up next to Eglise Saint Merry.Read More

Bibliothèque Richelieu reopens with Palm trees

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The new gardens on rue Vivienne have a Mediterranean look

The main entrance of the Bibliothèque Nationale Richelieu (French public library) is now on rue Vivienne, facing Le Grand Colbert restaurant. And a large garden “Hortus Papyrifera” with palm trees and many “paper trees”, created by Gilles Clément, welcomes you instead of the more austere courtyard of rue de Richelieu. Once you walk inside, a modern staircase in aluminum and steel, designed by the architects Bruno Gaudin and Virginie Brégal, has replaced the wooden one which I loved but the museum on the first floor, with 900 objects on show, is definitely more attractive than before. 261,3 million € have been spent for 22 million documents over twelve years of restoration and 42 kilometers of shelves reinstalled. This second phase of restoration is completing the first one (in 2016), when the beautiful salle Labrouste, dedicated to INHA (art history institute), and the library of Ecole des Chartes were reopened on rue de Richelieu.  Read More

Munch, a poem of life, love and death at Orsay

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“Despair, sick mood at sunset”, 1892, Stockholm, Thielska Galleriet

What we always remember about Edvard Munch‘s work is “The Scream“, his most famous painting which represents anguish. But the show at Musée d’Orsay is an exploration of the painter’s (1863-1944) 60 year long itinerary, with the connections and repeats of this iconic painting. It is both exhilarating with bright colors and very depressing at times. Munch’s anticipation of modern art, his symbolist dimension, his exploration of death and rebirth, his obsession with jealousy and red headed women with long hair, make the show fascinating. Yet his dramatic self portraits bring us back to a dark reality. What really matters is the extreme quality of the work and the impeccable staging.Read More