Alberto Giacometti celebrates Annette and more…in Bilbao, at Hotel de la Marine

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Alberto Giacommetti, Annette, Fondation Giacommetti

The whole street had been closed to traffic as Institut Giacometti was celebrating a new exhibition of works on Annette, his wife, to celebrate her centennial and the 20 years of the Foundation.. The rare art fashionistas who had not yet emigrated to Avignon, Arles or Aix en Provence were all gathered on rue Victor Schoelcher, across the street from Fondation Cartier. There, sipping cocktails and nibbling at food, Jérome Godeau from Musée Bourdelle discussed with Cécile Champy-Vinas from Musée Zadkine who had just inaugurated her new summer exhibition  dedicated to Rosemarijn Westernink. There was a great sense of privilege in the reunion of these three great institutions devoted to XX th century sculptors’ studios. And the show is beautifully presented with many portraits of Giacometti’s wife as well as well as paintings and drawings. Everyone commented on how patient she must have been to pose for such long hours.Read More

In Aix en Provence, museums compete with opera

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Marianne Crebassa and John Brancy in “Picture a day like this” © Jean-Louis Fernandez

The Opera festival in Aix en Provence was founded 75 years ago by Gabriel Dussurget and Lily Pastré, his mécène. It is now run by Pierre Audi, an opera director who ran the Almeida theater in London in the 1980’s, and Julien Benhamou its artistic director. Like for the first edition in 1948, a Cosi fan Tutte was programmed this year directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov but it did not get a warm reception. Neither did Brecht’s the Opera de quat’ sous with actors from la Comédie Française. I was very lucky to see, in the two days I spent there, “Picture a Day like this” with George Benjamin conducting his own creation with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and a sharp text by British playwright Martin Crimp. The revelation was the French soprano Marianne Crebassa, who sang in excellent English. I also went to hear Meyerbeer‘s “The Prophet“, in concert version, which was the surprise of the festival. A four hour long opera whom no-one had ever heard except for those who were in Berlin in 2017 and saw Olivier Py‘s version. When it was first performed in 1849, it was a huge success and was even translated into English for the London stage. The success was equally huge in Aix,  with a twenty minute standing ovation.Read More

“Over the Rainbow”, at Centre Pompidou, celebrates homosexuality in art

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Romaine Brooks, “Au bord de la mer”, 1912, Centre Pompidou

Surfing on the LGBTQIA+ wave, a small exhibition “Over the Rainbow” is showing, on the ground floor of Centre Pompidou, a few paintings and photographs on the topic of homosexuality, which belong to Musée d’Art Moderne. And there are some finds which make the visit worth while. Thirty photos of transvestites photographed in 1931 at the Magic City ball, 180 rue de l’Université, in Paris, where a studio had been set up for two yearly Mardi Gras events. Two inks on paper by Andy Warhol “Male partial figure” and “Standing male nude” from 1956, show what a great draftsman he was. Jean Cocteau also, whose portrait of Raymond Radiguet, his young lover who died of typhoid fever at 23, is ravishing. Berenice Abbott, Brassaï, Diane Arbus, all contribute as photographers in the show curated by Nicolas Liucci-Goutnikov. Women and men are studied and revealed in a time where gay behaviors  were both hidden and freer than we think. The other news is the opening in 2026, of a Centre Pompidou francilien in Massy, just outside Paris, which will house the reserves for the 140 000 works owned by the museum (and the Picasso museum) and offer space for restoration and education. The budget of 105 M€ will be divided between the region, the town of Massy and the state.

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At Marmottan Monet and at BNF, light comes from black and white prints.

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Claude Mellan, after Simon Vouet, Intellect, Memory and Will, 1625, burin (detail)

Prints are all the rage right now in Paris with a new exhibition at Musée Marmottan Monet and another one of Degas curated by Henri Loyrette at Bibliothèque Nationale Richelieu with 160 works. Far from being dark, these black and white works breathe light. A Swiss minister, William Cuendet (1886-1958), who was born in Algeria and translated the Bible in kabyle, created the most prolific collection of 10 000 prints from the 15 th to the 21 st century in Switzerland. Florian Rodari, the curator of this collection at Musée Jenisch in Vevey, presented the selection of 100 works with a great sense of humor and warmth. Erik Desmazières, director of Musée Marmottan Monet (which belongs to the Institut) and himself a great printer, dialogued with him on the theme of “Printing light”. The show (until September 17) is a great discovery of this medium which is extremely challenging technically and very affordable if you want to collect. The exhibition of Degas is extraordinary for the number of “states” shown and the extreme dynamism he gave to this art among his peers.

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The news of the summer is at Hotel de Mercy-Argenteau

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Rachel’s pearl and cameo Diadem, collection Comédie Française, photo Benjamin Chelly

You will have to wait until October 6 to discover this new hub of artistic pleasures, but it looks like “L’Ecole des Arts joailliers” (Jewelry school), sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels, is bound to become the place where to be seen, this fall. The Hotel de Marcy-Argenteau at 16 bis bd Montmartre, between musée Grévin and Hotel Drouot, was entirely refurbished by the very fashionable Constance Guisset, well known for her “Vertigo” suspension and married to Laurent Le Bon, President of the Pompidou center. It will be open to the public for the first time in its two hundred and fifty years history. The School, which is established in Hong Kong and will soon open in Shanghai and in Dubai, has a mission of teaching gemology and the history of jewelry design with conferences and practical courses in a lab. But it also has an exhibition gallery where access is free, you just need to book. Right now, “Un Art Nouveau” is taking place at 31 rue Danielle Casanova their old premises. The new space will include the school, an exhibition gallery in the former Salle des fêtes inspired by Charles Garnier in 1890, a large bookstore on chic lifestyles and jewelry, and a restaurant, both at street level.Read More

French Sculpture in America, a data base and now a book

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Charles Cordier, “Black Moorish woman”, 1856, Detroit Institute of Arts

Laure de Margerie is a long distance runner. For the past twenty years she has been researching the presence of French sculpture in the US which resulted in a database of 14 051 sculptures by 1047 artist in 612 locations, from 1500 to 1950, and she has just recently published a book in both languages, with 444 pictures based on her research. Formerly at Musée d’Orsay, where she curated a beautiful show on Charles Cordier in the Spring of 2004, she moved to the United States, where her husband Olivier Meslay was named head curator of European Arts at the Dallas Museum of Art. Since 2016, he is director of the Clark Institute in Massachusetts, a fantastic museum with a large library to research her subject. Her father, Emmanuel de Margerie, was French ambassador in Washington from 1984 to 1989 and had been director of French Museums in the 1970’s. She was presenting her book in the lavish auditorium of the INHA (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art) which has contributed to the funding of the project, as have private sponsors such as the Didier Aaron gallery, Leonard Gianadda and the French Heritage Society, among others…Read More

An ideal outdoor cantina and a nostalgic show at the Saint Laurent museum

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“Stockholm” dress, Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior, spring summer 1959

I went to see the new Yves Saint Laurent show on “Shapes” which reminded me of the glorious years when anyone could buy a Saint Laurent ready-to-wear outfit because they were cheap. The premises of the Foundation, decorated by Jacques Grange, are elegant and simple but not functional. The rooms are small and on three levels. The whole space will soon be reworked and enlarged as to enable bigger shows. The outfits are punctuated by ceramic installations by German artist Claudia Wieser which look very pretty in the couture rooms. The scenography is as always impeccable. I was particularly moved to see a 1959 dress from his Christian Dior years. It was already as modern as his 1968 dresses with a large belt and perfect cut. And his very special association of colors (purple and green, pink and red) is spectacular. After visiting the show, you can climb upstairs to see the master’s studio and watch an interesting documentary on his professional life.Read More

Musée Albert Kahn has more than its Japanese gardens to show

parisdiaFlowers and gardens, Photography1 Comment

Three first class passengers on Avon III, Sept-Oct 1909, print from an autochrome plate

Albert Kahn, the successful banker of the turn of the century, who documented the world with 72 000 autochromes, in the “Archives of the Planet”, was a keen traveller and he always took a photographer with him. For its new exhibition, his museum in Boulogne is showing extraordinary photographs of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro in 1909. The crossing on the König Friedrich August on August 27 led him from Porto to Brazil and Argentina and the return trip was a month later on the British ship Avon III through Funchal in Madeira. 85 photographs were selected among 683 kept in the archives and some of them are the first known color images of the bay of Rio. The travelers on the ships were mostly immigrants from Italy and Portugal and some shots are probably unique of their harsh installation, down below, near the machines. On the deck, in first class, there was a swimming pool and elegant social life. Read More