At Malmaison, furniture has its secrets

Joséphine’s jewelry box (detail), the incrusted nails are in steel ©musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois Préau, photo Franck Raux

Château de la Malmaison is the small but very refined house where Joséphine Bonaparte retired when the emperor divorced her in 1809. She had acquired the house in 1799, redecorated it with the help of architects Percier and Fontaine. It is full of charm, drama and its impeccable decor illustrates a little bit of the huge luxury with which the deposed Empress surrounded herself. Isabelle Tamisier-Vétois, its furniture curator,  just opened an exhibition on secrétaires (secret holders),  with secret hiding places which also includes jewelry boxes and travelling trunks. It is a fascinating way to enter the world of politics and diplomacy in the 19 th century.  And if you pick a sunny day, it provides  for a romantic escape, forty minutes from Paris.Read More

La Scala Paris, a theatre and a great lunch (and dinner) place!

Annette Messager, armchair, “le possédé”, 2018 at la Scala

A few theaters have changed hands in Paris this fall and La Scala is one of the most talked about. Ideally located near the République on bd de Strasbourg, it is surrounded by popular shops selling wigs and fake nails. Mélanie and Frédéric Biessy, a successful business woman and a famous theater producer, have undertaken the management of this magical place, abandoned since 1999, and rebuilt by Richard Peduzzi, the mythical decorator of so many Patrice Chéreau productions. The result is a dynamic programme and an excellent restaurant run by Mélanie’s father, Georges Sengel, who still owns restaurants in Strasbourg.Read More

KraK des chevaliers and Palmyre, Syria is celebrated everywhere

Alep’s Mosque at Institut du Monde Arabe

Three exhibitions track the disappearing treasures of the Orient and recreate them with digital tools.  The emotion is total at seeing Palmyre, Alep, Mossoul live again despite the war. A new technic forced by circumstances and developed by Iconem, projects images on huge screens at Institut du Monde Arabe. At Cité de l’architecture, the large fortress of Krak is described over the centuries, at Musée Guimet photos of Bamiyan cliffs by Pascal Convert complement archive pictures of Kandahar by Benjamin Simpson.Read More

Felix Nadar and family, a large mix at BNF

Charles Carolus-Duran, Felix Nadar, 1886, Le Bourget, Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace

The pseudonym Nadar invented by Felix Tournachon in the 1840’s has become a synonym of early photography, of Parisian life and black and white excellence. We always forget that there were three “Nadars” and that Felix, the eldest was the greatest, as we can read in Stéphanie de Saint Marc’s excellent biography of the master. But Bibliothèque Nationale de France chose to portray the three members of the family, Felix, Adrien Tournachon, his brother, and Paul Nadar his son.  And even Marthe, Paul’s daughter, who like her ancestors was first a painter and then a photographer. The result is a wide exhibition with 300 photographs, which lacks a proper story and an angle. A little confusing.Read More

A private photo collection at Caillebotte’s house in Yerres

Graciela Iturbide, “Heroes de la Patria”, Cuetzalan, Puebla, 1993

La Maison Caillebotte was inaugurated in Yerres, 20 kms South East of Paris in June 2017. It used to be the famous painter’s house and Valérie Dupont-Aignan, a lawyer by training,  has patiently redecorated it for the municipality. The result is superb and in the modern galleries, a collection of photographs belonging to Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla is shown until December 4th.Read More

“Fine Arts Paris” moves to the Louvre

Michel-Ange Houasse, “Une Partie d’ânes” (a party of donkeys, atTalabardon & Gautier

I love going to a show and shop virtually: this is what I did at Paris Fine Arts, from Antiquity to today, which has, for its second edition,  moved from the Bourse to the Carrousel du Louvre and had a luxurious and cozy atmosphere. I ran into many friends, arts amateurs an excited professionals, and loved these few paintings and objects which might still be for sale when you read this column.Read More

Rodin’s paper cut outs are a true discovery

Naked woman sitting, a mantel on her shoulders, Musée Rodin

“My drawings are the key to my work” once declared famous sculptor Auguste Rodin and the new exhibition of his 90 paper cut outs and 200 drawings at Musée Rodin is fascinating. It took five years in the making for curator Sophie Biass-Fabiani who has patiently classified sheets of drawings and esquisses. The result is a new look at Rodin’s huge talent.Read More

Tutto Ponti, a design giant rediscovered at MAD

Ribaltina table, 1926, from Gio Ponti’s apartment on via Randaccio, Milano and mirror,

Visiting “Tutto Ponti” the retrospective dedicated to Italian designer and architect Gio Ponti (1891-1979), was a true discovery and a wonderful immersion in 20 th century design. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, now called MAD, has gone a long way to give to the ” Italian Le Corbusier” enough space and luxury. Maybe too much? But you can visit the show as you would go to a design fair. And just pick what you like best in  this multitude of ceramics, glass, silver, wood, houses, furniture, churches, mosaics…Read More