At Maif Social Club, time is successfully slowing down

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Louise Pressager in front of one of her murals

I was just back from the luxurious and delicious Gala dinner at Chantilly where Prince Amyn Aga Khan entertained two hundred “Friends” with Anne Miller and Mathieu Deldicque when the lovely artist Louise Pressager invited me to attend the opening of an exhibition at Maif Social club, the gallery sponsored by the insurance company. The contrast was extreme between the two events and yet they were both charming and artistically exhilarating. In Chantilly, the caterer was the excellent Lenôtre with Guy Martin from the Grand Véfour, on rue de Turenne, the caterer was the more modest Boulotte, with organic cheese and carrot canapés. The curator of the show, AnneSophie Bérard, who specializes in art and society,  managed to find young artists who were all interesting, including the Canadians Karine Giboulo and Julie C. Fortier, the Chinese Lingzi Ji, the Vietnamese Duy Anh Nhan Duc, the Algerian Lyes Hammadouche, the Japanese Kenji Kawakami and the Monegasque Michel Blazy. Of the 12 artists, most are under 40, except for one of my favorites, Pierre Bastien, a  musician who creates mechanical machines with sound. Read More

Azzedine Alaïa as a collector, at Palais Galliera

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Charles James, evening dress, Haute Couture, cir 1950

You all have heard of Azzedine Alaïa, the genius couturier who sadly left us too soon in 2017. But what I did not know before I visited the new show at Palais Galleria, “Azzedine Alaïa, couturier collector”,  is that he collected 20 000 costumes from all periods and spent his time and money restoring them and preserving this unique French art. Olivier Saillard, who used to run the Museum of Fashion at Galliera from 2010 to 2018,  curated the show of 140 pieces selected from the collection, with Miren Arzalluz, its director. And it is a treasure throve of styles from the end of the XIX th century to today. From Balenciaga to Charles James, Piguet and less well known Augustabernard or Mainbocher, the collection teaches us how studious and secretive Alaïa was, and how curious he was of cuts and styles. It is a very moving show, which ends at MAM Paris across the street, where three of the stage costumes for the Ballets Russes designed by Matisse are exhibited in the rooms dedicated to his Dance.Read More

In Ottoman Salonika, Jews reigned…

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Ali Eniss, the station in Salonika near the Faubourg Hirsch built after the fire of 1890. Many Russian Jewish refugees moved there from Odessa and Kichinev

This exhibition on Jews in Salonika at the beginning of the XX th century is the story of a passionate collector who travelled to Turkey for his fashion business and started buying documentary photographs of the Ottoman world. After his famous company Anastasia went bust in the 1980’s, Pierre de Gigord sold his collection to the Getty Museum but they did not buy his glass plates of Salonika (now Thessalonika in Northern Greece) and he has recently given them to the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaisme. A large group of them were shot by Ali Eniss, an interpreter (and maybe spy) at the German consulate during WWI. His photographs were discovered 40 years after he died on a building site where he had lived and were sold to different dealers who eventually sent them to France. The modern prints we see in the show are fascinating for the ambiance and the street scenes that they restitute. But he has photographed many other sceneries including the trees of the Bosphore which will be the theme of another exhibition.Read More

Gérard Zlotykamien, a dark street artist full of humour

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Ephémère, 2017, Galerie Mathgoth

Gérard Zlotykamien, dit Zloty (b.1940), is a self taught artist and the precursor, in 1963, of street art in France and in the world. While preparing to attend the 3rd Biennale of Paris with Eduardo Arroyo and Jorge Camacho, he went to London and started painting walls with a “poire à lavement” (a douche). His first work “Ronde Macabre” was acquired by the state but the group Abattoir to which they belonged was censured and he decided to use a new space for his art, the city and its endless outside space. He wanted to reach out to everyone everywhere, and had a predilection for worn out wood or garbage, pieces which would be thrown away after he painted on them. He uses aerosol (spray paint) and douches for lavis which is like the extension of his hand. The exhibition organized by Mathilde and Gautier Jourdain from galerie Mathgoth includes a hundred pieces made over 65 years and a fascinating video of him, in a temporary space, near Bibliothèque Nationale, from Wednesday to Sunday, 3 pm to 7 pm.Read More

“Coup de Chance” in Paris, in French, by Woody Allen

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Lou de Laâge is more interested in reading poetry than in deer hunting © 2023 Gravier Productions, Inc. Photography by Thierry Valletoux

Coup de Chance, “Stroke of Luck” or “Lucky Strike” is Woody Allen’s 50 th film, entirely  in French, shot with French actors in Paris and in the forest of Montmorency. Lou de Laâge, 33,  replaces Léa Seydoux who played in “Midnight in Paris”.  It is like in “Match Point”, the story of a lucky encounter which turns out to become dramatic. Two characters in the film are particularly brilliant, Alain played by Melvil Poupaud, the dark and mysterious husband of the ravishing Fanny and Valérie Lemercier, who plays her mother and is the clever lady in the story. The action set on avenue Montaigne and in posh Parisian apartments and a country house, is centered around  the young woman who works for Artcurial, the auction house, and her charming but a little bland lover, Alain, who was at the Lycée Français in New York with her years ago. Read More

A film “The Anatomy of a fall” and paintings by Xavier Valls, there is so much to love

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Sandra Hüller and her lawyer played by Swann Arlaud used to date when they were younger

I went to see “Anatomy of a Fall” because it had won the Palme d’Or in Cannes last May, and I thought I would dislike it intensely. Its director and screen writer Justine Triet disgraced herself with her political speech attacking the French Government on its retirement law after having received all the financial help that French cinema distributes. Everyone was apalled by her. But I have to admit that the film is the most brilliant piece of cinema I have seen in a long time.

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Picasso and Gertrude Stein but mostly Andy Warhol, at Musée du Luxembourg

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Andy Warhol, Gertrude Stein, 1980, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art

The exhibition “Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso”  conceived by Cécile Debray at Musée du Luxembourg is a last minute replacement for another show on Picasso and the Russians which was canceled. The director of Musée Picasso had worked extensively on the Stein family when she organized a show of their collections at Grand Palais in 2012. And the close relationship between the American writer and collector (she met Picasso when she bought “Jeune fille au panier de fleurs”) and the Spanish painter, is very interesting intellectually. There are recordings of Gertrude Stein’s reading her own poetry which are moving and the influence they both had on the birth of cubism is of course fascinating. But it is all a bit thin visually and to occupy the space of the small museum, contemporary art was added on to illustrate language and transmission. Josef Kosuth, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Sol Lewitt,  are prominently featured along Andy Warhol, who comes out as the great winner, once again. His portrait of Gertrude Stein lent by the Whitney is wonderful.Read More

Trendy books get signed at Galignani’s!

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“Bagatelle”, A Folly in Paris by Nicolas Cattelain at Flammarion

What does an art book on “Bagatelle” and a biography of Princesse Bibesco have in common? They get signing parties at Galignani‘s, the English bookshop on rue de Rivoli, where Karl Lagerfeld used to buy hundreds of thousands of € of books every year. The month of September is traditionally rich in new novels and the rentrée littéraire is ready for the prizes which are awarded from the end of August until November. My favorite choice this year is a wonderful book by Julie Héraclès, “Vous ne connaissez rien de moi” (your know nothing of me) about a young woman in Chartres, who falls in love with a German from the Wehrmacht during WWII.  She will become one of the women photographed by Frank Capra, whose hair is shaved at the Liberation. The novel is written with extraordinary subtlety and describes how a young bright woman can take her own destiny into her hands. Read More