Hi out there. I know I’ve allowed this blog to stagnate for… many moons, now. But since I left Paris (not for good! never for good!), it just didn’t feel right anymore. So I’ve moved to a new blog, documenting my life as an MFA student in northern Idaho. I hope you will join me there.
Well… It’s noon right now, and the sun is shining, so I’m going out to buy some wine and snacks and calling it a picnic!
Saturday, May 24 from 14h until 17h (at some point, I’m planning to meet up with katia and kyliemac‘s evening adventures).
At the very tippy-tip of the Ile de la Cite — square du vert galant, near the statue of Henry IV.
Bring blankets, plus whatever food and drink you prefer.
If, come 2pm, you’re worried about the weather, call me and I’ll let you know what’s up.
Just popping in for a minute to say I’m alive…. My parents are in town and keeping me very, very busy, so there’s not really time for careful, considered, typo-less blogging. I did see the Babylone exhibit at the Louvre, and about a third of the Touches de Sacre exhibit at Pompidou (it’s terrific — I’ll definitely be going back.), plus a lot of shopping and eating. I’ll blog it all when I can, but for now, I just wanted to remind people about the picnic Saturday! See the post below for details.
I just realized the meteo is saying rain for Saturday, so…. if it rains, it rains, maybe we’ll try again the following weekend. I’ll post something here the morning of to let you know.
Tags: paris art museum exhibition romanticism goethe drawing
Le Désespoir de l’artiste devant la grandeur des ruines antiques, 1778-1880
The despair of the artist before the grandeur of ancient ruins… And honestly, what artist among us hasn’t felt like this some days?
This sketch is from the exhibit L’Âge d’or du romantisme Allemand: Aquarelles et dessins à l’époque de Goethe, currently on at the Musee de la Vie Romantique. It may not be the most fashionable style these days — the people will have their realists and impressionists — but the passion and drama of Romanticism has always had a strange attraction for me: the desolate landscapes, the fascination with overlooked periods of art and architecture, the easy familiarity with death and the supernatural… The idea is to be swept away by the visceral impact of art, instead of dispassionately admiring the skill of the artist.
While the style may sometimes veer into base sentimentality, I’m nevertheless drawn to its ideal of privileging subjective experience — as Casper David Friedrich put it, “The painter must not be content to paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees in himself.”
P.S. Since the exhibit was devoted almost entirely to pen and ink drawings and watercolors, it might be of some interest to the illustrators in my audience.
Musée de la Vie romantique
16 rue Chaptal – 75009 Paris
until June 15th
Tags: cellar door, environmental art, loris greaud, palais de tokyo
Friday afternoon I finally made it to the mesmerizing Cellar Door exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo. I’d been a bit hesitant about this show, because they were promoting it as the first time the PdT had given over the entire museum to one artist under the age of thirty — I worried that, with a description like that, it had a lot of potential to go horribly wrong, plus I’ve gotten kind of bitter and resentful about people who are massively creative/successful and younger than I am. But the show won me over! Because it was amazing.
The concept for the show was that the entire space would be re-imagined as a sort of 3-D map of the artist’s brain. To me, the experience was most like waking up in an obscure avant-garde art film featuring a lot of surrealist dream imagery — see, for example, those bare trees lit by a glowing red orb.
This is a mini-map of the mind map. #8, the spectacle of a sculpture, consisted of some people in a cage shooting paintball guns at each other. #1 was a neon sculpture representing the balled-up blueprints of the Palais de Tokyo. #5 was an empty movie theater playing blurry abstractions. And my personal favorite was #9:
Celador: the candy with the taste of illusion. (“A candy whose indeterminate taste appeals to the consumer’s imagination. On sale in supermarkets, using the conventions of mass marketing. Celador is a contamination of reality.”)
Did the whole show hang together? I’m not sure — some of the elements felt a little thrown together, and some were downright annoying (the signs that faded to black as you were trying to read them, for example). Still, it imparted a sense of wonder and surprise, and a feeling of leaving the real world behind for an hour or two, which is mostly what I look for in contemporary art these days.
This doesn’t have anything to do with Paris, but those of you who enjoy my occasional deconstructions of European advertisements (see here, here, here, and here) might be interested in this discussion about the new Hanes underwear campaign in India.
Not completely sure how I feel about it yet, but my gut reaction is to agree with those who say it’s okay as art/cultural criticism, not so great as commerce. But I might change my mind…
Tags: exhibit, Gregor Schneider, Maison Rouge, museum, scary
Okay, that was terrifying.
I just got back from the Gregor Schneider exhibit at the Maison Rouge, and let me just say: scariest museum visit ever. Kind of like a cross between a nightmare and a graphic adventure game. Seriously, as exciting and awesome as it was, I’m not sure I can recommend in good conscience that anyone follow in my footsteps. Particularly not if you are remotely claustrophobic, or afraid of the dark, or anything like that.
If you do want to go and have the full experience yourself, don’t read any further, since I’m going to describe it in a fair amount of detail.
Tags: louise bourgeois, modern art, pompidou, spider
Why the spider? Because my best friend was my mother, and she was as intelligent, patient, clean and useful, reasonable, indispensable as a spider. -Louise Bourgeois
Sure. And the spider/mother is definitely not supposed to be creepy, threatening, or controlling in any way, with its looming body and its spiky feet. Or perhaps Louise Bourgeois is not an artist to be taken entirely at her word. Consider, for example, that in a room filled with bulbous, organic, sensual shapes, Bourgeois is quoted thusly: “These are clouds, a formation of clouds. Me, I don’t see any sexual connotations in them.” Hmmm.
Such were my thoughts upon attending the Louise Bourgeois retrospective at Beaubourg. I can’t say I came away believing that she is one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, but there were certainly some strange, even disturbing pieces. As with many retrospectives, unless you are a hopeless devotee, I would advise you to hurry through the first few rooms of the exhibit — Bourgeois’s early works struck me as mostly uninspired and derivative, and infused with an irritating literalism (see the “house wife” series, where the artist depicts herself as trapped by cage-like houses).
Her works from the 80s onward, on the other hand, were a lot more compelling. I particularly liked her “Cells” — a series of installations that have a definite element of psychological spookiness. The two largest are made up of wooden doors, arranged in a circle to act as walls, and adorned with signs that read “Fermez la porte, SVP” and “Private”. In chinks and hinges, the viewer can peer inside these little rooms, decorated with strange red objects and representing the realm of the parent and realm of the child, and implying the dark secrets these two have from each other.
The rest of the exhibit was mostly devoted to Bourgeois’s grotesque fabric sculptures, like Seven in a Bed, in which seven pink bodies with ten heads among them seem to be maybe embracing, maybe cannibalizing each other. (See this and other works here.) I have to say, images like that can make you wonder if Bourgeois was quite as innocent as her words insist.
until June 2nd
Tags: berries, blueberry, botanicals, cranberry, currant, etymology, lingonberry
Okay, I know I used to blog about all the art and food and spectacle Paris has on offer, but it seems that from now on, this blog is going to be devoted exclusively to cranberries.
I swear, I never meant for this to happen, but the tart red berry has invaded my consciousness and now it seems to pop up all the time, no matter how hard I try to shove it back into its Thanksgiving category. It turns out that, with this post, I opened one hell of a can of… berries.
Or canneberge, you might say, if you were using the French word for cranberry. Or, alternatively, airelles… the other French word for cranberry.
Except, which of these words really means cranberry? Or in fact, do either of them?
The cranberries I bought at Bon Marche were definitely what I think of as cranberries, and their package described them as airelles. And those were the cranberries I used to construct my successfully unsweetened Magret de Canard aux airelles:
Then last night, we were having a quiet dinner Au Vieux Moulin, and I noticed the evening’s special was Biche aux airelles — venison with cranberries. Well, of course I was overtaken by a desire to compare their cranberry sauce to mine, not to mention have my first venison of the season. But this is what I got:
It was delicious, but you can clearly see here that these are not cranberries. Furthermore, they didn’t taste like cranberries — they were not so much tart as aromatic and vaguely peppery. But if airelles aren’t cranberries, what are they?
Those of you with long memories may recall that this is not the first time this question has come up on this blog. Nearly a year ago, I posted about Cranberry-flavored Yop, at which point I observed that the French must not have a word for cranberries, since the good people at Yop had called them, simply and inelegantly, “cranberries”.
But I was immediately corrected in the comments section: “cranberries are known as airelles!” decreed one reader. “No, canneberges!” objected another. And then the second reader again: “actually, maybe the canneberge is a kind of airelle?”
It turns out that might be more or less correct — because not only is the word airelles used to describe cranberries… it also can mean, of all things, blueberry! And blueberries, of course, are also variously known as bluets or myrtilles! Which puts me in mind of the long-standing battle I have with Brumaire over lingonberries and groseilles — I say they are one and the same berry, also known as red currants, he declares that they are all quite different. And some people suggest (inevitably, it now seems), that the lingonberry is in fact a kind of cranberry — after all, the lingonberry is known also as a mountain cranberry or lowbush cranberry, not to mention a foxberry, cowberry and a partridgeberry.
Okay, so now I feel I’m going completely insane. So many berries! So many words! Can anyone sort this out? Or should we take the usual French approach and sidestep the issue by referring to them all as “fruits des bois“?