Forgotten Hittite kingdoms at the Louvre

Lion’s head from the base of the statue of Katuwa, basalt, Karkemish, Turkey, ca 925 bc, London British museum

It is very humbling to enter an exhibition at the Louvre and realize that you don’t know anything about the topic and have to look up most words in the dictionary. This is what happened to me last week at the opening of “Royaumes oubliés, de l’Empire Hittite aux Araméens“. I looked around to see if I was the only one so disoriented and it seemed that every visitor was a professor of antiquities at the Sorbonne or at least an art historian. But, I nevertheless found the multiple “orthostates” beautiful aesthetically, and concentrated on the film showing Max von Oppenheim unearth the city of Tell Hafaf on the Syrian Turkish border, while building a railway track. Read More

La Fontaine’s fables illustrated in Lahore, at Musée Guimet

Portrait of Randjit Singh Badour

It’s a curious phenomenon that is shown at musée Guimet in the rotunda: a series of illustrations of Jean de La Fontaine‘s Fables, painted in the first half of the 19 th century by Imam Bakhsh at the Sikh court of Lahore, Punjab. “Oriental Fables” shows beautiful miniatures illustrating the Memoirs of General Court  (1793-1880) at the time when French and Italian officers, Jean François Allard and Jean Baptiste Ventura went to Lahore to train Ranjit Singh’s army. They had both fought for Napoleon and needed an escape plan when he was sent to Saint Hélène.Read More

The moon and other dreams at Grand Palais

William Dyce, Francesca da infini, 1837, Edimburgh National Gallery of Scotland

The first time I went to see the exhibition “La Lune” at Grand Palais I was slightly irritated. Irritated at the excuse of celebrating the 50 th anniversary of the first step on the moon on July 21, 1969. Frustrated by the small size of the exhibition which leaves you hungry for more. Unhappy about the staging which is very loose. So I decided to go back this week and since it is school vacation in Paris, it was much more fun. Full of children, playing with their iPads with the guided tour and loving Chagall and William Dyce. Read More

Happy May First! and lots of lily of the valley.

Lily of the valley sells everywhere in France on May 1

I don’t know if in your country, you can find and pick lily of the valley, but all around France, we celebrate “Labor Day” on May 1st and anyone can sell these flowers as long as they are away from a flower shop. It traditionally helped  communist party members to raise money, now it is just a lovely way to celebrate!

So here is the product of my picking! I just wish you could smell it too.

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Picasso and the war, at the Invalides

Cheval caparaçonné et chevalier en armure, 24 janvier 1951, Musée national Picasso- Paris, dation Pablo Picasso, 1979 ©RMN-Grand Palais Daniel Arnaudet

Pablo Picasso was always involved politically in his times and the exhibition at Musée de l’Armée in the Invalides is both original and instructive in how artists can change people’s mentalities. “Picasso et la Guerre” starts with drawings of medieval soldiers drawn by Picasso in 1895,  when he was 14. It is an ink on paper representing with a precise and expressive style, the battle of Covadonga where in 722, Muslims were repelled from Asturia establishing the first victory of christians in Spain. He never joined the army but lived through three main conflicts, the two World Wars and the Spanish civil war and illustrated the Korean War and the Algerian Independence. The show is unusual and captivating.Read More

Last chance to see the Caravaggio for sale

Il Caravaggio, Judith and Holofernes, ca 1607, photo cabinet Turquin

Kamel Mennour is not only a successful art dealer, he also is very inventive and showing “Judith and Holofernes” by Caravaggio in his small gallery of 6 rue du Pont de Lodi with “Pyramidal” by Daniel Buren is a true find. One goes downstairs, entering a dark tomblike room, and the two works of art face each other in a light conceived by Madjid Hakimi, responsible for lighting at the Paris opera. It is very dramatic and very interesting. Daniel Buren’s prisms of aluminum partly reflect the Caravaggio. I found the painting terrifying with a lack of the usual harmony in Caravaggio’s characters.Read More

Galerie Mitterrand celebrates 30 years…

Lynn Chadwick, Third Maquette for Teddy Boy and Girl II, 1956, bronze

Jean Gabriel Mitterrand started in 1975 with Artcurial, which at the time was a wonderful shop on Avenue Matignon where you could buy artists’ jewelry, sculptures and prints. The Lalanne, César, Arman, Mitoraj, Takis were discovered by many amateurs in this happy place.  It was partly funded by L’Oréal and had an original spot in the art market. Later JGM started his own gallery on rue Jacques Callot, then moved to a glamorous Hôtel particulier in the Marais in 2003. It is now called Galerie Mitterrand. This is where the exhibition “A short history of shaped modernity “, curated by his son Edward, was inaugurated last week in great style.Read More

Spheres, the Earth and the Universe at BNF

Edme Mentelle and Jean Tobie Mercklein, Terrestrial and celstiel globes made for the education of the Dauphin, 1788, BNF

It is an extraordinary exhibition that is presented at Bibliothèque Nationale de France after the Louvre Abu Dhabi. 2 500 years of representations of the atmosphere and the Earth from Antiquity to today. Two hundred pieces restitute all its nobility to the quest of discovering the universe which was started by Ptolemaeus with the first globes. The evolution of our knowledge through medieval times and Arab astronomy with And al-Rahman al-Sufi. Then the Renaissance and the first exploratory trips to the New World. And the Copernician revolution with Kepler, Descartes and Newton. This year marks the five hundredth anniversary of Portuguese navigator Magellan‘s circumnavigation. And the exhibition ends with contemporary interpretations of man’s first step on the moon.Read More