HuThoPi, a new restaurant and a great story of friendship

parisdiaRestaurants & Hotels3 Comments

Today’s starter, scallops with a cream of broccoli and radishes

We are rue de Charenton, two hundred meters from Opera Bastille and HuThoPi is so small that only 25 guests can have dinner at the same time. Three little boys from kindergarden, Hugues, Thomas and Pierre grew up in the suburbs of Paris and always kept in touch. They have worked in the greatest restaurants such as Le Meurice for the pastry chef, Laurent and the Plaza Athénée for another. They are now 26 and have just opened a restaurant where they practice their immense skills. I was brought there by a friend from the neighborhood which is already buzzing about this new place. The food is delicious, there is a lunch menu at 36€ and dinner menu at 70€ or a la carte. They are not serving late after the opera yet, but could be convinced to do so…Read More

Théo Mercier’s dream sand sculptures at La Conciergerie

parisdiaarchitecture, Art5 Comments

When you enter the space, you are immediately overwhelmed by the sand sculptures

I had missed the opening of the exhibition and when I went to the Conciergerie on a Monday morning to visit “Outremonde, The Sleeping chapter“, I noticed two people who were obviously not tourists and stood still in a corner observing. So I went straight to them and started asking questions… The man answered very obligingly. “Yes the artist uses a large box which he fills with sand and water, makes it dry thoroughly so that the sand can be sculpted. He then puts a pillow or a mattress in front of him and sculpts it in sand”. A bit like a sand castle on a beach. The difficulty is, of course in the long run, to keep the material wet enough so that it does not dissolve itself. Only after explaining everything, did Théo Mercier admit to being the artist and not his assistant. Very charming and unpretentious.

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Les Choses, “Things”, at the Louvre

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Sébastien Stoskopff, “Basket with glasses and pâté”, ca 1630-1640, Strasbourg, musée de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame, on a long term loan at Musée des Beaux Arts

The first time I went to see “Les Choses” at the Louvre, I found the first room with Christian Boltanski’s picture of  “François C’ clothes”, a large Spoerri installation and a video, really irritating. Why bring contemporary art to the Louvre, just for the sake of it? I calmed down a little bit in the second room which is stunning with four mosaics of a skeleton, a “Memento Mori” and a still life of fish and birds, found in Pompei in the first century bc. I then ran through the show grasping moments of pleasure from time to time and not understanding the point of it. The numerous explanations are too abstract for me and I don’t like to have to read to understand a painting. When I returned a few days later I was struck by the strength of some works like Peter Aertsen‘s “Dutch farmer” or Joachim Beuckelaer‘s “Kitchen scene with Jesus in the House of Martha and Mary in the background” and really enjoyed myself. The exhibit is too  intellectual for me in its theme (I hate the title Choses which is as ugly in French as it is in English), even though it treats of daily items in still lives. It has now become the favorite topic of conversation at chic dinner parties (recently at château de Courson Bel Canto evening) and contradictory arguments are fiercely exchanged. Read More

Amid the crisis, there are some wonderful moments…

parisdiaHappy moments1 Comment

Professor Pascal Hammel went on stage to talk about pancreatic cancer with Laurie Cholewa

Two events this week cheered me up amid the horrific news of strikes, fuel shortages, war, and mostly the 12 year old young girl who was murdered on her way back from school, by a sick woman in Paris. “Leurs voix pour l’espoir”, a concert of French singers  produced by the charming Laurie Cholewa took place for the tenth time at l’Olympia. Laurie, who lost her father at a very young age from pancreatic cancer, organizes this event every year for Fondation A.R.CA.D (Aide et Recherche en CAncérologie Digestive), the digestive cancers Foundation which funds clinical research and provide information for the patients as well as raise awareness, prevention and screening in the case of colorectal cancers. Daniel Levi, a faithful supporter and one of France’s greatest musician and composer, died this summer of colon cancer and the evening was dedicated to him.Read More

Rosa Bonheur, a whole world of animals, at Orsay

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Poneys on the Isle of Skye, 1861, collection Chris and Marion Ball

At the exhibition Rosa Bonheur, at Musée d’Orsay, my  heartbeat went up when I noticed for the first time in History, a cartel which mentioned “United Kingdom, Lent by His majesty King Charles III”. It is a majestic lion’s head, a whole symbol. I had no idea that the French artist, 1822-1899, had travelled so much to Great Britain and Scotland and studied in such a scientific way, the movements of animals in Ballachulish and on the lakes in the Highlands. A room is devoted to sheep and donkeys in the Pyrénées and to Scotland where she travelled while touring in 1856 with “The Horse Fair”, the large painting her British merchant Ernest Gambart, promoted everywhere through prints. It is now at the National Gallery in London. It gave her International fame and provoked many orders from the U.S. Her depiction of the ferrying of sheep from pasture to pasture, by boat in 1863 is also a  masterpiece. Read More

At MAD, the 1980’s reign

parisdiaarchitecture, Art, Fashion, furniture, History, photography3 Comments

The grande Nef with Jean Paul Gaultier’s pink ensemble 1985 and Shiro Kuramata’s carpet Panacée, 1989 lent by la Piscine in Roubaix

Former minister of culture Jack Lang was visiting the exhibition with a following of admirers and I am glad I started the visit in reverse, escaping all the politics of the Mitterrand years which are the prologue to the show. Instead, I immediately ran into the heart of the subject, the craziness in design, fashion and advertising of the 1980’s in France, well represented by Jean Paul Goude whose video of the défilé on the Champs Elysées of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution, is a grand historical moment.  Emmanuel Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler and Agnès B represent fashion, Kenzo Takada, Fiorucci and Castelbajac, were my favorites. Musée des Arts Décoratifs owns all of their costumes of course.Read More

Rodin loved Egyptian sculptures and found inspiration in them

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Rodin used to call his statue of Balzac, a sphinx

It is quite a revolutionary exhibition which is presented at Musée Rodin on the great sculptor’s collections of antiques (6 000 pieces altogether) and his relationship with Egyptian sculptures. In “Rêve d’Egypte“, Egyptian dream, curated by Bénédicte Garnier, we learn that Rodin called his famous monumental sculpture of Balzac, his “Sphinx” or his “Memnon”. A statue of the New York born Duchesse de Choiseul, née Claire Coudert, takes after an Egyptian hairdo. These 400 pieces collected as soon as 1893 and exhibited in the house of Meudon as well as in the studios, were acquired from Egyptian art dealers or in Paris.  They were restored during confinement and are shown in windows and on shelves in the former chapel of Hotel de Biron. Alabaster vases, sculpted bone objects, copt fabrics, masks, coffins, sonnets and pieces of architecture and of course sculptures form an eclectic collection which Amélie Simier, the new director of the museum is happy to show.Read More

Walter Sickert, painter and transgressor

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Self portrait in grisaille, 1935, London National Portrait gallery

Virtually unknown in France, British painter Walter Sickert, was born in Munich in 1860 from a Danish father and an Anglo-Irish mother raised in Dieppe. They moved to London when he was 9 and even though he spent six years painting in Dieppe with his friend Jacques Emile Blanche, and many more years in Paris where he showed at Bernheim Jeune and Durand-Ruel, this is his first retrospective in France. We owe this superb exhibition at Petit Palais, to Delphine Lévy, former director of Paris Musées, who died in 2020. She was a foremost expert on Sickert and had conceived the show which is curated in France by Clara Roca and in Great Britain at the Tate Britain by Alex Farquharson.  His eccentricity and his taste for secrecy rivaled with his numerous disguises and chameleon attitude and he started a brief acting career before becoming a full time artist.Read More