When the Perpetual secretary of the French Academy, Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, died on August 5, at 94, the institution which is in charge of writing the dictionary and defending our language, was suddenly abandoned. This amazing woman, born in France, from parents who had emigrated to France, after the Russian Revolution, became one of the foremost Historians in France: she had not prepared her successor. After a short election last Thursday, the Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, replaced her. Born in 1949, in Lebanon, he was first published by Jean Claude Lattès in 1981 with “The Crusades as seen by the Arabs” and “Leon the African”. He his unanimously considered as a good willing and pacifying influence. The job can be a lifelong occupation (the Academicians are called Immortals) but he has already stated that he would need some time to keep writing….
Galerie Chevalier has been, since 1920, a name associated with exceptional Renaissance to XVIII th century tapestries. Whether at Ecouen Museum or at TEFAF, Maastricht, at the Getty Museum or in Abu Dhabi, many of the most beautiful textiles were found at Dominique Chevalier and his wife’s gallery. 115 items from their collection are being auctioned by Alexandre Giquello and Violette Stcherbatcheff on October 10, at Hotel Drouot.
The exceptional pieces are sold by Amélie Margot and Céline, their daughters, who will now concentrate on XX th an d XXI st century, while their brother, Alexandre, specializes in carpets. They were made in Aubusson, lot 49 at 60 000€ and carry the Arms of France with lilies lot 43. They represent a Chinese fair, lot 40, Greek sceneries lot 34-38, a dromedary, lot 32. From the Gobelins, a large piece representing Renaud and Armide after Louis de Boulogne is a splendor. My favorite is “The children gardeners” lot 25 from the Gobelins also at 20 000 to 30 000€. Hotel Drouot on October 10 at 2.30. Exhibition from October 6 to October 9 at Hotel Drouot, room 5 and 6.
At Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson, downstairs, American photographer Ruth Orkin‘s photographs of her trip on a bike around the USA from 1938 to 1939 are charming (until January 14). She was born in Boston in 1921 and her mother was a silent film actress so she was raised in Hollywood. She biked at 17 from Los Angeles to New York to attend the World’s fair. She will end up settling in New York and marrying cinematographer Morris Engel. Later she did a series entitled “When you travel alone” on women travelling around Europe after the war, and her most famous picture was “An American Girl in Italy” shot in 1951…
At Thaddaeus Ropac, on rue Debelleyme (until November 30), a rare series of photographs by Irving Penn are devoted to American choreographer Anna Halprin and were shot in 1967, during “the Summer of love” in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Young people had flocked to the city attracted by the counterculture and were preaching mysticism, free love and community. “The Bath” includes 14 pictures of the Dancer’s Workshop in San Francisco. The dancers were naked and were bathing in fountains of water. These shots were meant for an article in Look magazine but they were judged too daring and remained unpublished for thirty years.
In his exhibition at Musée du Quai Branly, Kehinde Wiley (b.1977) studies the representation of power in African states. Inspired by president Obama’s election, the artist questions the presidential leadership in Africa (his father is from Niger) and he spent ten years photographing the different leaders in complete secrecy. “The challenge is to confront African power and the Occidental world”, he states in the exhibition which was produced with Galerie Templon. At a time when African countries are erupting politically, this exhibit is particularly interesting. (Until January 14).
In the rest of the exhibition galleries, a history of Indian cinema is produced under the title “Bollywood superstars”. From men traveling around the countryside telling tales, the theater of shadows and the magical lanterns, Indian cinema has a a long past in entertainment. There are 18 th century gouaches and miniatures of dances and evenings in the ladies apartments (zenana), and extracts of films shot at the Taj Mahal, costumes, decors and posters. A room devoted to the great Satyajit Ray, who shot only in black and white, is probably the most interesting (until January 14).
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