Musée de Montmartre shows Auguste Herbin, a forgotten painter

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Selfportrait, study, 1910, The Netherlands, Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum

Musée de Montmartre is a little jewel on top of the Butte near the Basilica but not as invaded. It has a tea room and a very pretty garden. And all the exhibitions there help rediscover forgotten artists, who worked at the Bateau Lavoir and at 12 rue Cortot where it is located. This time (and until September 15), Auguste Herbin (1882-1960), a Fauve painter turned cubist and abstract. Curated by Céline Berchiche, who wrote her thesis on him, and Mario Choueiry the successful Lebanese curator of the show on etienne Dinet  at IMA. Referred to by Gilles Deleuze in a conference as “the artist who went the furthest in abstract painting with the color code he invented” Herbin was born near Cateau Cambrésis, Matisse’s birthplace, and at 16 he went to work in a newspaper, in Lille. His first painting dare influenced by the Flemish painters he saw in Bruges. In 1901, he moved to Paris where he is regularly exhibited in galleries and at the Salon des Indépendants in 1906. Read More

Théâtre des Champs Elysées moves at full steam!

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Jonah Hoskins and Sandra Hamaoui in les Pêcheurs de perles at TCE

On March 4, Bizet’s “Les Pêcheurs de perles” in concert version, created a surprise with the extraordinary performances of American tenor Jonah Hoskins as Nadir, baritone Joshua Hopkins as Zurga and the beauty of soprano Sandra Hamaoui as Leïla. She is engaged to be married to Benjamin Bernheim, the wonderful Franco Swiss tenor who will be singing “Werther” with her, conducted by François Xavier Roth, at TCE next March 2025. The evening’s 2000 seats were sold out and the public was clapping hysterically. It is time to plan your subscription for next season…Read More

Frédéric Mitterrand is now in heaven and his thousand best friends were there, at St Thomas d’Aquin

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Frédéric was much loved by thousands of friends, photo Eric Fougere

Frédéric Mitterrand, former Minister of Culture and Director of Villa Medicis in Rome, died on Thursday March 21 of cancer, in his apartment of rue de l’Université with his three sons at his bedside.

His public life started first as a 12 year old actor in “Fortunat” with Bourvil and Michèle Morgan. Already passionate about cinema, he had interviewed for the part under a pseudonym. He then studied at Sciences Po and refused to take the orals of l’ENA, and decided instead to go into the movie world. To support himself, he taught history at Ecole Bilingue Jeannine Manuel at the same time as Fabienne Servan Schreiber (who also went into producing movies). Then he founded l’Olympic in the 14 th arrondissement. There were two rooms: la Salle Marilyn and la Salle Pigozzi, named after Jean Pigozzi, who, with Jean Rémy Camus, was one of his benefactors. He acquired two more cinemas, l’Artistic (boulevard Voltaire) and L’Entrepôt in the 14 th, where his “cashiers” were Serge de Proutchenko and Isabelle de Gramont. His little dog Violette attended every show. At the funeral, his son Mathieu, who was born at the time of l’Olympic, where his mother worked, talked gratefully of their life and holidays together with his two Tunisian brothers Saïd and Jihed.Read More

How was Impressionism invented 150 years ago? The answer is at Musée d’Orsay.

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Auguste Renoir, “La Loge”, 1874, London, The Courtauld, first Impressionist exhibition n°142

It is an important moment in History of Art that Musée d’Orsay offers with its new show “Inventer l’Impressionisme” curated by Sylvie Patry and Anne Robbins. The movement which became the most important artistic moment in the 19 th century, was first named at the dissident show of April 15, 1874, when a small group of artists Monet, Renoir, Degas, Morisot, Pissarro, Sisley and Cézanne decided to exhibit their works at 35 bd des Capucines. This was photographer Nadar’s former studio, in the new trendy quartier of “Opéra Garnier”, instead of the Salon which took place at Palais de l’Industrie (now the Grand Palais) which showed 2 000 works. A month later, on May 15, 3 500 visitors have seen the Impressionist’s show: only four works were sold but sixty press articles were published. The name came from a satyrical journalist who commented “Impression, Soleil Levant” by Monet and referred to Impressionism in a derivative way. The word was picked up by another critic Jules Antoine Castagnary. The exhibition shows painters from both salons (some exhibited in both) and I found that this creates a mental and visual confusion for the visitor. Read More

Tina Modotti attracts the crowds at Jeu de Paume

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“Hands holding the handle of a shovel”, circa 1926-1927, Collection and archives of Fundación Televisa, Mexico

Tina Modotti is mostly known as a Mexican photographer today and yet she was born in Udine, near Venice in 1896, lived in Klagenfurt, Austria, as a child, and immigrated with her family to San Francisco at 16. There, she was a seamstress, became a model and acted in a mute film in Hollywood. This is where she met Edward Weston, whose fame eclipsed hers until recently. The Musée du Jeu de Paume gives her back her role as a leading  artist in a beautiful exhibit “The Eye of the Revolution” where both her political activism and her artistic eye are united in 240 photographies. It took 6 years to curator Isabel Tejeda Martin, a professor at Universitad de Murcia in Spain, to collect all the precious documents. Read More

Julio Le Parc, Salon du Dessin, Print art fair…. there is too much going on!

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Julio le Parc still paints at 96, and lives in Cachan near Paris

Julio le Parc was the unexpected moment of happiness of this week’s drawings activity, at Maison de l’Amérique Latine. The Argentinian kinetic artist, born in 1928, lives in Cachan and shows hundreds of drawings in the boulevard  Saint Germain elegant center where Latin Americans like to congregate. Sheila Hicks, the extraordinary wool artist and sculptor Bernar Venet arrived early to congratulate him and his pretty Japanese companion. One of his sons Yamil Le Parc, a dancer and a singer, was welcoming everyone while the film of drawings by his father accompanied by Astor Piazzola’s music, was being  screened on the ground floor. Baudoin Janninck who published an artist’s book “Art in writing”, with Le Parc in 2013 was also there. It can be acquired for 950€ with a special art work. Do not miss this show which is free and very enlightening on the artist’s career.

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Jean Hélion, is a great inspirer at MAM Paris

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“Figure bleue”, 1935-1936. Paris, musée d’Art moderne. photo ADAGP

It was very exciting to hear Fabrice Hergott, the director of MAM and Henry-Claude Cousseau, the guest curator, discuss their vision of Jean Hélion, 1904-1987,  a multifaceted but slightly forgotten artist, who has not been shown in Paris since 2004. This son of peasants, was a great writer and a great charmer and for having met him when he was “a shy young man”, Cousseau declared that he had been fascinated by his magnetism and eloquence. Self taught and made a prisoner in Germany during WWII, he escaped from prison and from himself and tried out various styles, moving from abstraction in France and in the US, where he introduced this new style with art historian Meyer Shapiro, to figuration and realism which Francis Ponge found  “gênant”, disturbing. Read More

Drawing now is stronger than ever!

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David Nash, Hawthorn-May 2023, pigment on paper at Galerie Lelong & Cie

Drawing now, the contemporary drawing art fair which takes place every year at the same time as Salon du Dessin can be very varied in quality. This year, I particularly liked the very strong Templon stand with Abdelkader Benchamma, Chiharu Shiota, Daniel Dezeuze, Prune Nourry and François Rouan. All these painters, who regularly exhibit at the Paris gallery, showed extraordinary drawings which are more affordable. My other “coup de coeur” went for Lelong & Cie where David Nash had three amazing “Hawthorn”, pigments on paper, in greens. At 7 000€ one can start dreaming… Bienvenu Steinberg & J from New York,  showed paintings on paper by Peter Kim and Papillon had everyone stare at Raphaëlle Peria, “L’Equilibre de l’absence”, a “grattage” (scraping) on photography. Read More