French and Italian opera compete at Garnier

Henri Gissey, Costume of flying Mercury in “Ercole Amante” by Cavali, ca 1662, Musée du Louvre

It is exceptionally a drawing and painting exhibition, “Un air d’Italie” that attracted me to Palais Garnier, where the Paris Opera is celebrating its 350 anniversary. Devoted to works and singers from 1669 to 1791, it reminds us of the importance of Lully, Rameau, Gluck… for the kings of France. The scenography, which mixes superb drawings and arias you can listen to, reminded me in a modest way of the exhibition at the V & A last year. Curated by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, it includes all the manuscripts, models, musical partitions and drawings kept in its precious archives.  The only drawback is that the show is not open after five and you can’t see it during intermissions… Read More

Villa Datris, a fun summer destination in Provence

Pascal Bernier, Shooting accident, Fox 2018,  Fondation Villa Datris

Danièle Kapel Marcovici is a successful business woman who has turned her parents’ small wrapping company Raja into the largest group in Europe. She founded the Raja foundation for women’s rights and has recently developed an art space for sculpture in l’Isle sur la Sorgue, near Avignon, where she spends the summer. Villa Datris is open till November and shows an exhibition “Bêtes de Scène” devoted to animals of all kinds. Read More

Two exceptional shows bring Romanticism to Petit Palais

Jean-Bruno Gasssies, Landscape in Scotland, 1826, Autun, Musée Rolin

Once again, an exhibition opens at Petit Palais and the surprise is overwhelming in quality and originality. “Romantic Paris, 1815-1848” comprises all the arts of the beginning of the 19th century thanks to the clever Christopher Leribault who convinced his colleagues from Musées Galliera, Carnavalet, Arts décoratifs and de la Vie Romantique, to lend exceptional treasures. It is a panorama of thirty three flamboyant years of Paris life in 600 works, set in a magistral decor by Véronique Dollfus. You will discover so many little known painters and walk through incredible objects and sculptures, that your head will feel dizzy. Read More

Tomas van Houtryve revisits USA’s old frontiers

Bernadette Thérèse Ortiz Pena and Sabine River cypress

Tomas von Houtryve has a Belgian name but was born in California. He has spent his (so far short) life documenting his on-field photographies like the series he did on 21st century Communist countries called “Behind the curtain”.  His present exhibition at galerie Baudoin Lebon in Paris is devoted to “Lines and lineage”, on the Mexican population spoiled of their land and culture by the Mexican war in America. All pictures are sold as a dyptich except for one tryptich and they were shot with a XIX th century camera (which is part of the exhibition) with glass plates. Photos that make you think.Read More

A biennale of architecture in Versailles

The extraordinary galerie des moulages from the Louvre in Petite Ecurie

Bap, Biennale of architecture and landscape of Ile de France, is new born and some aspects of it are interesting. It gave me the occasion of seeing the gallery of sculptures and moulages from the Louvre which is rarely open, in the Petite Ecurie (small stable) and to walk around the Potager du Roi, where the Ecole du Paysage trains many talented gardeners. I you are near the royal city, make sure to walk around the Bap itinerary. You can pass Eva Jospin’s tree at the music conservatory, which is mediocre but do not miss the exhibition within the castle on all the projects dreamt by three kings for its architecture and which were never realized.

Read More

Revelations, Fine craft and creativity at Grand Palais

Véronique de Soultrait in front of her creations in rope

What pleased me at first was to hear Italian, Chinese, Italian, English and Spanish being spoken in the alleys. This new edition of “Revelations“, the fourth arts and craft biennale, is definitely International and artists, craftsmen, industrials mix happily under the beautiful decor of the Grand Palais. Here are the discoveries I made among ceramists, leather and rope weavers, wood carvers and glass sculptors. In the age of Internet, the hand is still our most precious tool.Read More

“Prehistory”, at the Pompidou Center, reveals its contemporary followers

Miguel Barceló, “Il trionfo della morte”, 2019, and sculpture by Louise Bourgeois , Cumul I, 1968

I am not such a great fan of prehistory but so many finds have been made recently that I was curious to see what Centre Pompidou was going to show under the title, “Prehistory, a modern enigma“. Artists have played, along with scientists, a great role in our perception of the understanding of our origins. In the mid 19th century, stratigraphy enabled the world to understand the “epochs of nature” through the layers of the universe, as Buffon wrote. The association of painters like Cézanne and archaeologist and geologist Antoine-Fortuné Marion on the Sainte Victoire mountain near Aix enProvence, fed the imagination of painters. More recently Richard Long has been a great perpetrator of the Neolithic eras. Don’t be intimidated by the theme, the show is full off fabulous surprises including Miquel Barcelo‘s stained glass mud paintings and Robert Smithson’s film of the making of the “Spiral Jetty” near Salt Lake city.Read More

In Chantilly, the Journées des Plantes is again a delight

Grand Prix du Domaine de Chantilly, the peony developed by Damien Devos

Twice a year in May and October, Château de Chantilly celebrates new plants and International nurseries. An dualist week, Prince AmYn Aga Khan and Hélène Fustier were running around the park in their electric cart congratulating the prize winners of the season. Among whom, Belgian grower Damien Devos, won with a beautiful dark red peony and was exhibiting delightful calycanthus Aphrodite, and another Belgian, Pépinières Choteau, who specializes in Japanese maples Acer palmatum, were showing their “Ukigumo”, a ravishing tree with gray leaves. Read More