Thanksgiving was great fun in Paris with lovely faithful American friends visiting and they took me to see the new Skarstedt gallery on 2 avenue Matignon where Eric Fischl, their neighbor in North Haven, is having a show. The large space decorated by Jacques Grange is stupendous with a view of the Elysées gardens and the Eiffel Tower and just across the street from Christie’s, which the decorator has also revamped recently. I was taken to lunch at the Méditerrannée by the charming mayor of Evian les Bains, Viviane Lei, and stopped by Rosebud, the most refined flower shop in Paris, next door on place de l’Odéon. There Vincent Laissard was his own charming self and had modest refined flower arrangements. The visit of the Al Thani collection at Hotel de la Marine was both a delightful surprise for the decor and a slight disappointment for the small size of the show. At Maria Lund in the Marais, Bente Skjøttgaard shows her Danish ceramics and it’s very festive.
One of the high points of the week were discovering the new Skarstedt gallery which opened on October 18 with a strong Eric Fischl exhibition “My Old Neighborhood”. I love his way of painting daily street scenes with a strong American touch. Born in Long Island and raised in Phoenix Arizona, he has studied in California and worked in Chicago before settling in New York. His sense of humor and his happy vision of suburban life are perfectly staged in this new Parisian gallery run by Maria Cifuentes, who worked for Daniel Templon years ago. The gallery shows David Salle, Baselitz, Martin Kippenberger and Rebecca Warren who will have a show in January.
On rue de Turenne, Maria Lund is showing one of her fellow Danish artists, ceramist Bente Skjøttgaard who lives in Copenhagen and is also visible at MAM (Musée d’art moderne de Paris) in the exhibition Les Flammes. “Tableaux” is a feast, a hymn to beauty, extravagance and humor. In her dense clay, she finds lightness and movement. You can see her catalog here and discover the incredibly wide range of colors and shapes that she creates. Inspired by the XIX th century biologist Ernst Haeckel, she explores the submarine world and, in particular, the cnidaria, a family of invertebrates, sea anemones and medusas. One piece is called “Silence” and is made of deep blue and black stoneware and glaze, another is a purple vase, other are I bright yellow and orange. Twenty works illuminate the pretty gallery until January 8.
At the excellent fish restaurant la Méditerranée, where Jean Cocteau and Christian Bérard painted the logo and the decor, the mayor of Evian, Viviane Lei, came to present the new exhibition “Christian Bérard, the theatre of life” which will open at Palais Lumière on February 5. Bérard was this larger that life artist who designed theatre sets for Cocteau and Louis Jouvet (which will later impress Yves Saint Laurent), but also worked in fashion and illustrations. He died in 1949 at 47, and led a fast life, with a mix of social and artistic genius. “Bébé” Bérard worked for Christian Dior who was a friend, and Elsa Schiaparelli, he scenographed “Le Théâtre de la Mode“, this travelling fashion show which was meant to revive the French fashion industry, in 1945. He also created decors for Serge Lifar and Balanchine before WWII. Thanks to Daisy Fellowes, he met Carmen Snow and worked for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. In 1939 he collaborated with Jean-Michel Frank on the Guerlain Institue on the Champs Elysées.
This is a good occasion to go to Lausanne in the spring and hop over on the ferry to Evian where the spa, music, golf, gastronomy and now art await us.
And I made it to the Al Thani collection within Hotel de La Marine, which is on permanent show for twenty years in a very pretty gallery decorated by Japanese architect Tsuyoshi Tane. 120 pieces are presented this time with a first choice of seven very rare ones in a show case with acantha golden leaves hanging from the ceiling in a maze of glitter. This reminded me of the setting of the Al Thani jewel exhibition at Grand Palais five years ago. It is worth going to the show just to see this first room. A dark corridor with “faces through the ages” from all centuries and all continents shows an exceptional Maya jade mask and another from Guatemala, Egyptian and Greek heads follow with two more rooms filled with Indian treasures and treasures from Islamic lands. A very large Indian emerald from 1650 weighs 212, 3 carats!
Make sure to see this show when you are at Hotel de La Marine.
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