Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Flaneur Discovers Paris, a Step at a Time, Warhol exhibit, John Galliani show, Hermes Dans l'Oeil du Flaneur

You might have read/heard the French are mad for 'flaneuring' around. When people ask me what they should do during their 5 - 10 days in Paris, well there's nothing better you can do than flaneur.
Basically its aimless wandering around with no particular objective in mind. Is there a better town than Paris? Elaine Sciolino tackles the subject head on in, The Flaneur discovers Paris, a Step at a time. 'Paris is a comfortable city of visual delights, slightly smaller than the Bronx and much smaller than London, Berlin, Madrid or Rome. It can be walked from one end to the other in hours. Sliced by a river, with anchors like the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Coeur, it is a hard place to get lost, at least for long'.
On Sunday I set out with good intentions to go to the pool. I was even wearing my bathing suit. Instead I flaneured over to the Bio marche on Raspail and ate a breakfast of oysters and nutty organic bread.
From there I  flaneured onto the Metro to wander through the new Warhol show at musee d'art modern?
I love his brilliant color blocks. His works are so familiar, its like having cream cheese on a New York bagel. Only quiche is available in the museum café by the way.
Directly across from the musee d'Art Moderne, at Palais de Tokyo, during Fashion Week, the new Spring 2016 collections are being shown. At 5 on Sunday was Galliano.
Paris fashion shows entail a certain amount of flaneuring both by attendees clutching their invitations, sashaying in with as much casual, effortless chic as they can muster.
And by observers and professional shooters, who aim for an air of casual interest and voyeurism without appearing overly rabid.
At the shows you wander aimlessly outside in circles mostly
Hoping to catch some interesting sights.
I got there too late for the A-list front row crowd.
But the B-listers still provide plenty of amusement as do the voyeurs.
US Pop singer Janelle Monae, wearing one of her signature capes. Usually attendees feel honor-bound to arrive wearing the designer's clothing from previous collections. Or if they're in the know, they show up in pieces from the current collection - a major coup.
Not a designer piece I loved this nutty MOSCHINO Windex iPhone case.
I managed to flaneur inside the professional press area at the Palais and snagged some miniature Angelina goodies for les presse.
After gawping at the fashion plates I ran over to Herme's special popup museum on just for Paris Fashion Week by the d'Orsay. Appropriately called,'Dans l'Oiel du Flaneur'.
A series of rooms to wander through full of sensory surprises.
And a bit like Alice falling down the Rabbit Hole.
Dream-like and whimsical.
Naturally throwing in a Hermes scarf or cane hither and thither
The exhibit was free and I guess your bulldog could flaneur in with you.
You may not think of Hermes as the most whimsical fashion house but in fact it is. I've collected 7 of their 9 small sketchbooks full of delightful drawings by illustrator Philippe Dumas. You can find them on Amazon and pas cher. With titles like L’Exotisme, Vivre la France, La Vie à l’air libre, Voyage en Extrême-Orient, La Mer, Le Cheval, Le Soleil and La Route - all evocative of horses or travel.
A couple of Frenchies on Sunday flaneuring over to the Pont d'Alma.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Laundresses and Prostitutes

Two exhibitions it would behoove you to see together:
At the musee d'Orsay in the 7th arrondissement
And the laundresses at the musee d'Annees Trente in Boulogne are joined at the hip not just in time and content but by the line RER C, making it a fairly easy run from the d'Orsay to get to Boulogne.
Starting off with the laundress exhibition
This is quite an extensive show
I didn't know laundry was often washed on the rocks under bridges..I guess in case of inclement weather.

The laundresses seem to be having a pretty good time at it don't they?
Was it really the chatty party they show here?
The collection of laundry graphics are superb
Especially for all the bluing products.
Baptismal documents are included in the displays. Baptism gowns, wedding gowns, and shrouds had to be scrubbed and washed to bright white.
The city of Boulogne was the laundry center for the town f Paris.
Laundry works abounded and showed up in early films.
More wonderful graphics of the lovely laundresses
A favorite shot of the whites drying outside on the line in Boulogne.
This print could easily cross-over to the d'Orsay's Splendeurs et Miseres exhibit.
This dance hall could have been there as well. Mentioned in the d'Orsay wall panels, laundresses, shop girls and seamstresses could barely scrape by on their low wages and were often forced to supplement their income by taking to the streets or bordellos.
I missed the Press preview unfortunately so photos are limited but plenty of
Toulouse Lautrec's on the walls. There are many bordello scenes. And portraits of 'Les Grandes Horizontals' Exhibition walls are painted appropriately deep Burgundy red. Even a messy antique bed is displayed to get you in the right mood.
You'll find many fine Manet portraits, including his 'Odalesque', throughout the show.
A rather forlorn Manet café-sitter nursing her absinthe. By the way sitting alone in a café or leaning against a lamppost was a sure sign a woman was available. More info in Elaine Sciolino's story on the d'Orsay show in the NYTimes.
Loved the d'Orsay's absinth glasses(just 7,50€) and the ox blood red cafe cups(26€).
19th century top knots are all over Paris including Lanvin's Spring 2016 collection by the way. Put your hair up PBers. Don't bother looking in the mirror if you want the 'laundress/prostitute' look. For Gucci's 'nerdie-librarian' look add coke-bottle glasses and you're IN.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fragonard Amoureux, Fete du Miel, Les Routes du Miel, September Map

I know it's been awfully quiet at PB headquarters this week. It's that time of the month. Map-making time. I'm finally coming up for air. Angelina has especially created this frothy pink dessert to go with
The Fragonard in Love exhibit recently opened at musee du Luxembourg.
Get out your robin's egg blue ribbons and pink rouge PBers. Jean-Honoree Fragonard (1732 - 1806) painted during the same period as Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun (spelled correctly for once).
The 18th century has taken over Paris this Fall season.
Loads of froth and frolicking nudes, even some quite risqué scenes.
Still I love Fragonard's lively, fluid drawings. There are many in the show.
I couldn't figure out was how Fragonard escaped the grasp of the French Revolution unlike Vigée Le Brun? When you visit French cathedrals you're aware of the wreck and ruin during those years of so-called 'Liberty, equality and fraternity'. If you're keen to find out about the inner circle of the Jacobins; Robespierre and Danton, listen to radio BBC4's 3-part historic drama by renown Hilary Mantel. Gripping tales.
I've been longing to visit the Fete du Miel - jardins du Luxumbourg
Twice a year in Fall and Spring they sell the honey from the garden hives and you can sign on for classes at Pavillon Davioud.
I bought a 500g (9€) jar of their honey. No pesticides are used in the city gardens unlike country honey so Paris honey is very pure. Read lots more on French honey at David Lebovitz.
I could have used these teaching boards when I was trying to draw bees in the September street map...more later.
Coming out of the musee du Luxembourg and walking towards boulevard St. Michel I discovered a fabulous photography exhibit lining the outside railings of the gardens.
Les Routes du Miel (the honey roads) just opened September 19 on through January 19, 2016.
At least 80 big boards with explanations in 3 languages of how honey is produced the world over. I did not miss a single caption. Absolutely fascinating and the photographs are magnificent.
Photographer Eric Tourneret spent 10 years traveling around the world gathering information. There are bee hives on Notre Dame! This is a smashing don't-miss exhibition if you're coming to Paris. Plus no lines and it's free. Maybe the most exciting I've seen this year.
If you thought I didn't get to church this week (I've been averaging 3 a week) you'd be wrong. I took an hour off from mapping to tour Notre Dame with NYU Medieval art historian, Deborah (in the rain but how many times so you get a chance like that?). One important fact I want to share with you. Walk around the outside of the church before you rush inside, even if it is raining. You'll get a much better sense of it's structure. Inside and outside are connected after all.
Paris was buzzing Sunday. It was no-car zone day almost everywhere. Streets were jammed with walkers, scooters, bikers and brides. Perfect weather too.
Not one person on Ile Saint-Louis was without an ice cream cone in hand, myself included (fraise-pistache).
On to the dreaded map of rue des Martyrs. I could have used this detailed bee reference.
My main source of reference besides Elaine Sciolino's terrific book, THE ONLY STREET IN PARIS, was a vertical Japanese map of rue des Martyrs. Should I draw the the map vertically? The copy shop kid said, "No way!"
My other inspiration source - a page of engravings of French professions (glass bottle seller, sweets, tailor etc.) I spotted it in Maille mustard shop in the Louvre. I stole a shot when no one was looking. Rue des Martyrs is a grand mixup of artisans old and new, patissieres, waffle-makers, gold-leaf experts.
Voila. Naturally my first effort didn't satisfy me. Too much squiggly printing. A re-do drawing finished just before the copy shop closed on Saturday. Your Paris Street maps are shipping out Monday PBers c/o la Poste. Or subscribe here.
My favorite Fragonard painting was in the Luxembourg show from the New York Met. It's called "The Letter".