Friday, December 31, 2010

Paris Inspired Art- Monotypes Part 6

This monotype, Versailles, expresses the royalty, dynamism and history I found at the very popular tourist stop the Palace of Versailles, only 16 miles outside of Paris.

Versailles was the center of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancient Régime.

It represents the ultimate in beautifully appointed but often overdone rooms with antiques and art treasures culminating in the Hall of Mirrors. See earlier posts where I describe the palace and gardens and the juxtaposition of them and the contemporary art exhibit showing there.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Paris Inspired Art- Monotypes Part 5

What do you think is the number one tourist attraction in the world? What is the most recognized attraction to people in the world? My guess would be the Eiffel Tower. It is the most-visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named for its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair.

The tower stands 1,063 ft tall, about the same height as an 81 storey building. Upon its completion, it surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930.

Image: Le Tour, Monotype by Linda Dubin Garfield

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Paris Inspired Art- Monotypes Part 4

The Bois de Boulogne, one of Europe's most spectacular parks, just west of the city is a place where Parisians go to breathe and enjoy spacious green surroundings. A historic spot which French nobility once used as hunting grounds, the Bois de Boulogne is a lyrical expanse of greenery and calm where picnics, bike rides, boating, and even fishing can make you feel like you're far away from the urban scene.

One word of warning: prostitution rings thrive around the Bois de Boulogne after dark. Avoid the area at these times.

Image: Bois de Boulogne, Monotype with mixed media by Linda Dubin Garfield

Monday, December 13, 2010

Paris Inspired Art- Monotypes Part 3

These three monotypes are titled (from the top) "Le Marais," "Sully" and "Vosges." I purposely grouped them together because they are geographically together in Paris. Le Marais is the area where you find Place de Vosges which I spoke about before. It is the oldest planned square, quite lovely with great architecture around it. Build by Charles !! for his son, it stand the test of time and still works as a beautiful, popular square today. The Victor Hugo Museum is there as is the Sully Hotel (meaning large, grand edifice, not a place to rent rooms). You can refer back to past posts to read more about these places. I was enamored by each place and tried to encorporate the energy and feeling of the place in the work of art.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Paris Inspired Art- Monotypes Part 2

Moulin Rouge, which means Red Mill, is a cabaret built in 1889 by Joseph Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia. Close to Montmartre in the Paris red-light district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy in the 18th arrondissement, it is marked by the red windmill on its roof.

The Moulin Rouge is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. The modern can-can was born as dancers (many of them failed ballet dancers with exceptional skill) were introduced to entertain the guests. The can-can that we recognise today comes directly from this period and, as the vulgarity of the dance lessened, it became renowned for its athletic and acrobatic tricks.

The Moulin Rouge lost much of its former reputation as a 'high-class brothel' and it soon became fashionable for French society to visit and see the spectacular cabarets, which have included a can-can ever since. The dance is recognizable for the long skirts with heavily frilled undergarments that the dancers wear, high kicks, hops in a circle whilst holding the other leg in the air, splits, cartwheels and other acrobatic tricks, normally accompanied by squeals and shrieks. Whilst the dance became less crude, the choreography has always tended to be a little risqué and somewhat provocative.

Today the Moulin Rouge is a tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for visitors from around the world. Much of the romance of turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club's decor.

Images: Top: Moulin Rouge 1, monotype;and Bottom: Moulin Rouge 2, monotype capture the joy, excitement and provocativeness of the Moulin Rouge as well as the choreography and maybe even a hint of the windmill.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Paris Inspired Art- Monotypes Part 1

Capturing the excitement and energy of the streets of Paris is a daunting job. Paris is a walking city and I walked miles and miles, or should I say kilometers? Every neighborhood had its charm and flavor. In previous posts, I spoke about Marais where I stayed. Some of the energy and passion of this fabulous city is in the monotype if you look for it. The movement, the color, the application of the ink- all work toward expressing the sights and feelings of the experience of Paris in visual form, using color instead of words.

Top: Rendez-Vouz d'Octobre, monotype, bottom: Rues de Paris, monotype

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Paris- Doorway to Happiness

Paris is the center of fashion, art and people-watching; a city where Chanel-clad ladies walk poodles along grand boulevards; a place where the waiters are rude but the food is amazing. Paris is all of that and more. Your love affair begins once you look beyond the closed door, open yourself to explore the backstreets of many neighborhoods, and make Paris your own.

Comfortable shoes are essential for this city of a thousand walks, landscaped gardens and cavernous galleries. Reserve your ticket for speedy access to the Louvre, which sidles up to the Jardin des Tuileries. Across the Seine on the Left Bank, take your pick from Impressionist hangout Musée d'Orsay, Notre-Dame's Gothic grandeur and Musée Rodin's Kiss sculpture. OK, you really can't leave without seeing Paris light up from the Eiffel Tower, open till midnight.

Parisians luxuriate in shopping -- bidding shopkeepers bonjour and pausing to lèche-vitrines ("lick the windows" or window shop). Saunter the boutiquey Marais for home-grown fashion, and voguish rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, home to concept store Colette, for haute-couture. Where else can you find such palatial department stores as Art Nouveau Printemps and rival Galeries Lafayette? Antiques, bric-a-brac, vintage Chanel -- it's all at Saint-Ouen's enormous weekend flea market; arrive early for bargains and stay for brunch.

Visiting Paris opens doors to every sensual pleasure. It is mysterious, magical and welcoming. I took pictures of doors I saw around the city. Many were very old. All were very interesting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paris- Rue des Rosiers

Rue des Rosiers is the main thoroughfare of the Marais' historic Jewish quarter. Walking down this street and seeing the facades scrawled in Hebrew and French, many of them dating to the early 20th century, you can sense the rich history here. The area is also known as the Pletzl, which means square in Yiddish.

Large Jewish communities have lived here on and off for centuries, starting in the 13th century, when the area was known as "The Old Jewry." At the constant mercy of kings who periodically expelled them from France, Jews only acquired a measure of stability in the early 19th century, under Napoléon I. 

During WWII, the neighborhood was especially targeted by the Nazi occupation and the collaborationist French police. Many schools in the area attest to that, including one that can be found off of Rue des Rosiers, at 6, Rue des Hospitalières-St.-Gervais. A commemorative plaque stands at the boy's school here. 165 students from this school were deported to concentration camps.

Today, the street and surrounding neighborhood is well-known for its delicious Middle Eastern and Yiddish/Eastern European specialties. I googled over 133 kosher restaurants in Paris. About 35 of them were around Rue des Rosiers. some of my favorites were Mivami for felafel and Israeli treats, Micky's Deli for fresh deli meat, and Korcarz for delicious dairy dishes. I also loved the authentic French food at O'you which was a taxi ride away.

Photographs above show stores in area. From top: Love Paris, Kosher Shop and Waiting for Felafel.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Versailles- Murakami at Versailles

“For a Japanese like me, the Château de Versailles is one of the greatest symbols of Western history. It is the emblem of an ambition for elegance, sophistication and art that most of us can only dream of. Of course, we are aware that the spark that set fire to the powder of the Revolution came directly from the centre of the building.

But, in many respects, everything is transmitted to us as a fantastic tale coming from a very distant kingdom. Just as French people can find it hard to recreate in their minds an accurate image of the Samurai period, the history of this palace has become diminished for us in reality.

So it is probable that the Versailles of my imagination corresponds to an exaggeration and a transformation in my mind so that it has become a kind of completely separate and unreal world. That is what I have tried to depict in this exhibition.

I am the Cheshire cat that welcomes Alice in Wonderland with its diabolic smile, and chatters away as she wanders around the Château.

With a broad smile I invite you all to discover the wonderland of Versailles.”

Takashi Murakami

How intriguing it was to see the modern work of Murakami along side the classical works of the Versailles collection. What a coup for an artist to have his work shown at Versailles!! I found it invigorating and exciting to see resin 21st century Japanese cartoon-like sculpture among the traditional sculptures. At first it was jarring, but charming. It piqued my interest and made me wonder why Murakami put his sculptures where he did. His were ornate, multi-colored and very decorative as were many of the older sculptures found in the original collection. This was not my first visit to Versailles, but it was my most interesting!!

Versailles- The City

Versailles, a city renowned for its château, the Palace of Versailles, was the de facto capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. It is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and remains an important administrative and judicial center, located in the western suburbs of the French capital, 10.6 miles from the center of Paris. Versailles is historically known for numerous treaties such as Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I.

From May 1682, when Louis XIV moved the court and government permanently to Versailles, until his death in September 1715, Versailles was the unofficial capital of the kingdom of France. For the next seven years, during the Régence of Philippe d'Orléans, the royal court of the young King Louis XV was in the Tuileries Palace in Paris, while the Regent governed from his Parisian residence, the Palais-Royal. Versailles was again the unofficial capital of France from June 1722, when Louis XV returned to Versailles, until October 1789, when a Parisian mob forced Louis XVI and the royal family to move to Paris.

King Louis XIV, son of Louis XIII, was only five years old when his father died. It was 20 years later, in 1661, when Louis XIV commenced his personal reign, that the young king showed interest in Versailles. The idea of leaving Paris, where, as a child, he had experienced first-hand the insurrection of the Fronde, had never left him. Louis XIV commissioned his architect Le Vau and his landscape architect Le Nôtre to transform the castle of his father, as well as the park, in order to accommodate the court. In 1678, after the Treaty of Nijmegen, the king decided that the court and the government would be established permanently in Versailles, which happened on 6 May 1682.

Photograph- garden at Versailles

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Paris- Shoppers' Paradise & Fashion Mecca

I am sure there is great shopping all over Paris but I am most familiar with shopping in the neighborhood closest to my hotel. The historic Marais quarter is prime stomping ground for shoppers with an eye for the unique and finely-crafted, not to mention antique and art lovers. Try antiques or fine arts shopping on the Place des Vosges, jewelry shopping at boutiques like Satellite on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, or explore boutiques featuring up-and-coming designers on Rue des Rosiers. There were many small fashion boutiques on all the streets like the ones pictured above. And we saw many fashion shoots like the one shown in the photograph on top with the model as tall as a giraffe with the photographer telling her how to move and stand in front of the art galleries around the Place des Vosges. Picking up accessories in Paris to brighten an outfit made my day!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Paris- Shopping in Belle Epoch Style!

First inaugurated in 1893, the Galleries Lafayette department store is a Paris fashion institution. Located near the Opera Garnier, Galleries Lafayette is an essential stop for fashion enthusiasts: men's and women's designer collections are always kept at the cutting-edge, and the latest trends in jewelry and accessories, home furnishings, or cosmetics can all be perused under one roof. Galleries Lafayette also houses a gourmet food market, Lafayette Gourmet, that will be sure to tempt foodies and curious travelers alike. Modeled after a Mideastern bazaar, the store flaunts unique Belle Epoque architecture. It is an amazing shopping experience!! Pictured are the balconies and incredible glass ceiling. The prices were not cheap but some things were on sale and, therefore, affordable. The dollar to euro ratio was dropping by the minute when I was there.

Across the street, the new Galleries Lafayette Maison in Paris extends over five floors and 10,000 square meters and is devoted to the culture and cult of lifestyle. Visitors stepping into the atrium are welcomed into a fairy-like palace. Between the brightly lit columns and stairways new visions of light and color appear as if by magic in the glass balustrades on each floor – a sparkling canopy of stars, welcome messages in a wide variety of languages and the names of exciting places

Paris- The Louvre, a Must-See Spot

Where do you begin to discuss Arts and Culture in a city like Paris whose history is filled with centuries of arts and culture? I'll start at the Louvre which I found out was first a prison, then a palace and then a museum. It is so big, there is no way to see all of it in one visit. We did not even try. We headed right to the Mona Lisa (pictured above) and stayed in that general area.

Right across from the Mona Lisa was the huge painting I have pictured above. I have never seen such a large painting. I was amazed by its size!! I looked at it for over 20 minutes absorbing all that was in it. It was unusual because there were musicians in the dining area and nobles and peasants eating together. I was interested in how he lightened the colors to show perspective and make the background seem farther away. He also used steps up to imply steps back. He painted a powerful, majestic social scene.

Veronese’s Wedding of Cana (1562-63) the Louvre’s largest painting, now hangs directly across from its most famous one. To remove this gigantic canvas from the gallery before the remodeling started, workers had to break the door frames of the Salle des États. The frames were eventually replaced with removable ones. Some visitors may find the 84 feet separating Mona Lisa from Veronese too close for comfort. Unlike Leonardo’s small and intimate portrait, the Veronese is a painting you really need to back up to see. The Louvre has pointed out, however, that the refectory at San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, where the painting originally hung before its 1798 seizure by Napoléon, was also just about the same distance.

The Louvre Pyramid (pictured above) is a large glass and metal pyramid, surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard and serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. Completed in 1989,it has become a landmark of the city of Paris. The pyramid and the underground lobby beneath it were created because of a series of problems with the Louvre's original main entrance, which could no longer handle an enormous number of visitors on an everyday basis. Visitors entering through the pyramid descend into the spacious lobby then re-ascend into the main Louvre buildings.

This is a must-see place when visiting Paris!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Marais: Architecture

Marais, the old narrow streets, barely wide enough for a car, navigate through 400 years of 17th century Paris. This is the oldest neighborhood of Paris, created from ancient swamp lands. It is now a mélange of hip boutiques along the Rue des Francs Bourgeois, the Jewish ghetto of the rue des Rossiers that dates back to the 13th century and some of the trendiest cafes, brasseries and restaurants of all Paris.

Marais, the oldest section of Paris, is a treasure of Renaissance architecture. It is home to the Musée Carnavalet, Musée Cognacq-Jay, The Archives, Hotel Sully, Musée Picasso and one of the grandest old squares in all of Paris, the Place des Vosges. This square is a masterpiece of brick facades and harmonious stone arches.

In Marais one can find cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, boutiques, art galleries and museums. It is a diverse, energetic neighborhood, well-located and thriving.

(Photographs from the bottom: These buildings are in Marais: roof top Hotel du Sully, Hotel du Sully, another view of Hotel du Sully, library in Marais, side of library, another traditional building in Marais)

Marais: Place des Vosges, Oldest Planned Square in Paris

Henri IV built the Place des Vosges from 1605 to 1612. A true square (140 m x 140 m), it is the first European example of royal city planning. It was built on the site of the Hôtel des Tournelles and its gardens: at a tournament at the Tournelles, a royal residence, Henri II was wounded and died. Catherine de Medicis had the Gothic pile demolished, and she moved to the Louvre.

The Place des Vosges, inaugurated in 1612 with a grand carousel to celebrate the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, is the prototype of all the residential squares of European cities that were to come. What was new about the Place Royale in 1612 was that the house fronts were all built to the same design, probably by Baptiste du Cerceau, of red brick with strips of stone quoins over vaulted arcades that stand on square pillars. The steeply-pitched blue slate roofs are pierced with discreet small-paned dormers above the pediment dormers that stand upon the cornices. Only the north range was built with the vaulted ceilings that the "galleries" were meant to have. Two pavilions that rise higher than the unified roof line of the square center the north and south faces and offer access to the square through triple arches. Though they are designated the Pavilion of the King and of the Queen, no royal personage has ever lived in the aristocratic square. The Place des Vosges initiated subsequent developments of Paris that created a suitable urban background for the French aristocracy.

Before the square was completed, Henri IV ordered the Place Dauphine to be laid out. Within a mere five-year period the king oversaw an unmatched building scheme for the ravaged medieval city: additions to the Louvre, the Pont Neuf, and the Hôpital Saint Louis as well as the two royal squares.

Cardinal Richelieu had an equestrian bronze of Louis XIII erected in the center (there were no garden plots until 1680). The original was melted down in the Revolution; the present version, begun in 1818 by Louis Dupaty and completed by Jean-Pierre Cortot, replaced it in 1825. The square was renamed in 1799 when the département of the Vosges became the first to pay taxes supporting a campaign of the Revolutionary army. The Restoration returned the old royal name, but the short-lived Second Republic restored the revolutionary one in 1848.

Today the east side of the square is planted with a grove of mature lindens set in grass and gravel, surrounded by clipped lindens.

Many famous people lived around the Place des Vosges. Two significant ones are No. 6, "Maison de Victor Hugo" Victor Hugo from 1832–1848, in what was then the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée, which is now a museum devoted to his memory, managed by the City of Paris. The other is No. 7 Hotel du Sully, Henri IV's great minister, which is a lovely grand edifice and garden, currently housing the offices for all historical buildings.

Around the periphery of the square are shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes galore. We went to an art opening one night, ate lunch in the park several times, had late afternoon coffee at a cafe a few times and thoroughly enjoyed the area which as around the corner from our hotel. We also viisited the Victor Hugo Museum and Hotel du Sully which are free and well worth seeing. The gift shop at Sully had wonderful gifts to bring home.

(Photographs from the bottom: Statue of Louis XIII, Fountain in center of square, Place Royal with distinct brick and stone design and Clipped linden trees)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marais: The Right Place to Stay in Paris

Located in the very heart of the Marais, around the corner from the Place des Vosges (more later,) the Hostellerie du Marais welcomes you into its cultural ambiance. Its contemporary style rooms, entirely renovated in 2008, combine both design and comfort. With air conditioning and LCD TV on cable, you can enjoy a modern stay in the Old Paris.

Nothing beats mingling with the crowds in the cobblestone streets to do some shopping. Visitors will enjoy antique shops and second-hand bookstores, art galleries and boutiques of all types. You can admire architecture from as far back as the 17th century that gives this district its authentic charm and which will transport you back in time.

We were so lucky to stay is this charming three star European hotel. The breakfasts were wonderful. The staff was incredibly accommodating and helpful. We were close to so many wonderful places and could walk everywhere, including the Metro. More in the next post about Marais, the best place to stay in Paris!

Photographs: From top: Neighborhood Shop, Boutiques and Galleries Galore, Place des Vosges

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The First Time I Saw Paris

I taught for a year after I graduated from college and saved as much as I could to afford the Grand Tour of Europe. My friend Susan and I bought a Europass and off we went. We spent a week in Paris, staying at the University dorm for $2 a night. Even so, we could not stay within the $5-a-Day budget like we did in the other cities. Paris was expensive even in 1965!!

But I saw all the sites I had read and dreamed about: the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Place de Vosges, among others. I walked the streets filled with history, beauty and charm. I practiced my fractured French while the natives cringed and answered in English. I used francs and ate onion soup at 3 AM in Les Halles where the fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables came in from the country. I had cafe au lait in cafes where I sat and people-watched for hours. I saw the "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre and absorbed all the culture the city had to offer. No one was going to keep me down on the farm; after all, I'd seen Paree!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Art Inspired by Tuscany and Umbria

The colors and sensations of Italy linger long after I return home and had a direct influence on the work I did for a while. I am not sure if the light and colors of Italy ever totally leave your mind's eye. I did several series of monotypes based on my trips to Tuscany and Umbria. These three monotypes are titled (from the top): Harvest Time, Landscape Lambrusco and Tuscan Hills 2.

See more at my website:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Art inspired by Tuscany and Umbria

The colors, sensations and memories of the lovely hill towns of the wine country in Italy linger long after I returned home. Tuscany and Umbria are in my mind's eye and these are from several series I did inspired by my travels there. I will be posting several more in the next few weeks.

From the top: Tuscan Hills 1, Merlot Fields, Exuberant Landscape. All are monotypes.

See more on my website