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!!