Chambord, Chenonceau, Cheverny, the Loire Valley is still fantastic.

parisdiaarchitecture, Art, flowers and gardens1 Comment

Jean-Baptiste Van Loo, “The Three Graces”, the three Nesle sisters, Madame de Chateauroux, Madame de Vintimille and Madame de Mailly who were all (and sometimes together) Louis XV th mistresses

An English friend wanted to visit the castles of the Loire Valley. And I had not been for so long that I decided to drive her to three major places, very near each other, and an easy journey from Paris. You can even do it in one day if you like. So we started with Chambord, in grey weather and drizzling rain. We drove on to the nearby Cheverny which is concentrated on children and Tintin’s château de Moulinsart, and finished in splendor with Chenonceau, which has everything: 850 000 visitors for the beautiful site on the Cher river, the romance with Diane de Poitiers and Henri II, and ravishing flower arrangements done by three full time staff. What a treat.Read More

Eduardo Zamora brings Mexican dream to Paris

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Laundry washing at the Virgin’s, 2013

If you are a fan of Mexico like I am, do not miss this new show at Institut Culturel du Mexique where Eduardo Zamora (b.1942) is showing his latest paintings including “The Elephant’s strike in Paris” painted last year. They are a mix of religious and erotic images (far from his earlier abstract works) set in a poetic rural landscape with the Mexican sense of illusion and darkness of life. His world is immediately overpowering and for a half hour you live in a different atmosphere, almost feeling the warmth of the country while you know that all of these canvases were painted in France from memory. Read More

Collection Pinault is climate proof at Bourse du Commerce

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Danh Vo, “Tropeaolum”, an installation made with dead French trees and walnut trees from Craig McNamara’s farm in Winters, California

As a former wood merchant in Rennes, François Pinault, is particularly sensitive to forests burning and agricultural disasters. The new exhibition at Bourse du Commerce, “Before the Storm“, is devoted to nature and climate, a general theme chosen among his huge collection of contemporary art. And when you walk into the central nave, you are immediately confronted to a very political work: Danh Vo‘s “Tropeaolum”, an installation made with trees from the Office national des Forêts and walnut trees from Craig McNamara‘s farm in California. He is the son of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara who dramatically contributed to Danh Vo’s exile from Vietnam with the boat people. The artist was a refugee in Denmark and now holds dual citizenship.Read More

A banana soup from Cabo Verde

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Dona Gui at work in her kitchen of Hotel Foya-Branca on the island of Sao Vicente

A friend of mine decided to go and spend two months to write in Cape Verde, the former Portuguese archipelago of 10 islands in the Atlantic, just west of Senegal. It is an independent republic since 1975 and uses Portuguese as its national language. And he came back with a fabulous recipe for banana soup, something that can be made easily in any country. Since bananas are with avocado the ultimate pleasurable fruit (to me), I immediately tried the recipe with two friends who came for lunch. And the success was total. The chef is Dona Gui and she works in hotel Foya-Branca on the island of San Vicente near the village of San PedroRead More

Here and there, there is so much to see

parisdiaPerforming arts, photographyLeave a Comment

Lubna Azabal and Karim Leklou with Laurent Lafitte and Laurent Capelluto in “Pour la France”

Pour la France” is a film produced by Nicolas Mauvernay, about drama and hope in life. About brotherly love and emigration. It could all seem depressing but it is riveting from beginning to end. It is based on a true story, the death of the director’s brother, Aïssa Saidi, when he was a student at the prestigious St Cyr military school in Brittany after having studied at Sciences Pô and in Taiwan. His Algerian family, who was so proud of his brilliant studies and his social ascension, does not understand how, through a (bizutage) ragging, two weeks after his arrival at the school, he could drown in a lake without being assisted by his colleagues. How the French army could let him die in such a stupid way? The drama is told in a subtle and fascinating tone with very strong actors including the Belgian actress Lubna Azabal, his mother, who is stupendous. It probably will only be distributed in France but do go if you are around. Read More

Gribouillage “scarabocchio” is the surprise of the week at Ecole des Beaux Arts

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Eugène Delacroix, School textbook, 1815, Paris, bibliothèque de l’Institut national d’histoire de l’art © INHA

When you see Gribouillage, scribblings, as the title of an exhibition, you are a little disconcerted but also intrigued. And this is what led me to visit the new show at Ecole des Beaux Arts, which mixes 150 drawings by various artists from Raphael to Dubuffet, Leonardo to Cy Twombly and Brassaï. They belong to Ecole des Beaux Arts and Villa Medici, or have been lent by many Italian and French institutions as well as private collectors. The point is to show how scribbling leads to creativity for all generations of artists. Curated by Francesca Alberti from the French Academy in Rome and Diane Bodart from Columbia University, and designed by Isabelle Raymondo, it is clever and surprising, fun and  disconcerting. A true luxury nowadays.Read More

Paul Strand seduces at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Paul Strand, Wall Street, New York, 1915 © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive. Fundación MAPFRE Collections

Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson has a new director Clément Chéroux, who worked for nine years at Centre Pompidou, three at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and two at MoMa, always in the photography department. He has curated thirty exhibitions and published even more books on photography and its history. The Paul Strand exhibition from the collections of the Foundation MAPFRE in Madrid, “The Balance of Forces” is his first at the foundation and he co-curated the Helen Lewitt-Henri Cartier-Bresson show downstairs with Agnès Sire, one of the founders of the center. Both shows are impeccably hung and offer great clarity. Read More

Urban art is intense at Espace Voltaire

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The famous rails around the trees in Paris are generating dead roots thanks to the politics of the city

For a month, eleven International artists have invested 3 000 square meters of an industrial site at 81 boulevard Voltaire to create their installations featuring our more and more artificial lives where nature and feelings have lost their place, in an immersive exhibition called Super Terram with earth as the main actor. From sculpture, to videos and music, they are led by the curator (also an artist) Gaël Lefeuvre, who specializes in street art and is assisted by Julie Guinamant. The producer of the show is Fondation Desperados for Urban art, founded by Pascal Sabrié four years ago. When you enter the completely dark space with earth on the ground, you immediately feel the excitement of being far from Paris and its permanent strikes. I went from surprise to surprise, carefully walking in a maze of art, fresh flowers, QR codes, and passionate young artists, four of which are Spanish. One woman, Olivia, will spend a week in a cabin called “The social room”, being fed only by delivery food which she orders herself on her iPhone. Read More