David Hockney in Normandie

The aging famous artist, stayed in Normandie, France, during the pandemic, that nobody suspected would last for over one year. David Hockney decided to spend his time in his house and garden during lockdown, to his favorite occupation: art.

He decided to dedicate his skills to painting on an Ipad, a technique he’s been using for the past ten years.

Spring turned into summer, into fall and into winter… Recorded in this exhibition at the Orangerie, in Paris. He painted more than 100 works in this manner.

Like the former impressionists, he captures the lights and the movements and the result is a mixture of pop – and impressionist art, using vivid and luminous colors. Inspired by a 70 m. long tapestry he had seen in a Museum, he made images that have been recorded on paper and are shown in two long rolls on each side of a corridor in the basement of the museum.

It’s fun and different! Not to be missed. You have until February 2022.

Anne Edelstam, Paris

Thierry Mugler Couturissime

Paris – the capital of haute couture – shows a retrospective of one of the world’s most famous fashion- and scenery artists. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs, situated next to the Louvre has dedicated two full floors to Thierry Mugler’s creations.  

Paris cultural life is once more buzzing after nearly two years of lockdown. This exhibition gives the viewer just the energy kick needed to get going! It was like stepping into another planet. Couturissime is unlike any of the usual haute couture exhibitions. The creations, as well as the materials used, resemble more Star Wars, than Paris chic drawing-rooms.

Mugler isn’t just a fashion designer, he’s also a scenograph, photographer, filmmaker; just to mention a few of his skills. More than a retrospective, this exhibition gives us a glimpse into a part of his life and creativity.

Despite that his first collection, from 1973, took place during the hippie movement, with its bohemian fashion, his was the opposite: Mugler’s women are strong, animal-like creatures dressed in the most outrageous clothes, using vinyl and plastic.

I walked into a fairy-world inhabited by insects, sea animals and snakes. The clothes exhibited resemble those found in a movie, theater play or an opera. Their are no boundaries to Mugler’s imagination. Women’s thin waists were enhanced as were their breasts, showing deep cleavages. I was met by nymphs wearing steal corsets, a cape with enormous butterfly wings, tightly fitting fishscale dresses and heroines taken directly from cartoons such as “Catwoman”. Mugler called his women “glamazones”, i.e. modern, chic, urban, imaginative and strong women.

The last room on the first floor, was filled with scents from his different perfumes. I discreetly lifted up my face-mask to smell Angel, his most famous perfume. “I wanted to remember my childhood with a scent of hot choclate and cookies”, he said. After months of trial and error in one of the perfume factories in Grasse, the scent was finally approved and has since been an international hit.

On the upper floor, I was met by Mugler the photographer, with large, magnificient pictures, inspired by Helmut Newton, that he had also worked with. The photographs heighten Mugler’s interest in extreme nature sceneries. The mannequins were photographed on the top of Opera Garnier and on the Chrysler Building’s roof; on an Iceberg in Greenland or out in the Sahara desert. Mugler seems to be drawn to women’s power over and struggle with nature’s most inhospitable places. These women are more like “übermenschen” than women.

Thierry Mugler also fought for Aids’victims and made a collection to denounce the predjudices against them. He got several famous people to help him in this endeavor, such as Madonna, Emma Sjöberg and the trans mannequin Connie Girl, to mention a few.

David Bowie, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga also wore his creations, as is shown in different photographes. The exhibition ends bloodily, with a video clip from Mac Beth to which Mugler had designed the clothes.  

One either loves or hates this exhibition, but it won’t leave anyone indifferent, that I can assure you. I felt like I had been at the opera, the theatre, the movies and … to Jurrasic Park all at once. You’ll get for your money’s worth!

Anne Edelstam

Thierry Mugler

Couturissime

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

30 September 2021 – 24 April 2022

Christo and The Arc de Triomphe

For two weeks, Paris famous Arc de Triomphe, that had been attacked just a few years ago, during one of the first “Yellow vests” demonstrations, got a new autumn dress. The artist died in 2020, but this didn’t prevent the accomplishment of this incredible art work. The Arc de Triomphe, situated on top of the Champs-Élysées, got wrapped for the occasion by 25000 sqm of recyclable polypropylene in silver and blue, as well as 7000 m of red rope.

For many Parisians it was a welcome “gift” after nearly two years of lockdown during the pandemic. A gift from an interesting artist and his wife. Both of which had been working together as a team since they met, decades ago. A love letter to Paris – “la ville de lumière”.

Anne Edelstam, Paris

Women painters from 1780 – 1830

Adrienne Marie-Louise Grandpierre-Deverzy, 1822.

The Luxembourg museum, close to the artists quarters of Saint Germain, in Paris, is situated in a lush park. Its opening exhibition shows women painters, a rarity in those days.

Aimée Brune, 1839

It was a big day, this 31 May 1783, when the prestigious Royal Academy of Painters welcomed a new member: the talented Adélaïde Labille-Gaillard. Soon afterwards, another woman, close to the royal family, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, also insisted on becoming a member. Her magnificent portrait of Marie-Antoinette, her protégée, is displayed in this intimate exhibition.

A quota to accept only four women had been established long ago among an abundance of men. However, a few years later, this one hundred year old Academy was transformed into an Institute and women painters were accepted in greater numbers. They excelled in the art of portraits. Women could not paint nudes because, at the time, the models were exclusively males…

The relative democratization between the genders, opened up doors to otherwise closed ateliers for these women painters. They were thus accepted as pupils for male teachers. It further led to free of charges, highly classified, drawing classes for the impoverished ’demoiselles’ who possessed an artistic talent.

Marie-Victoire Lemoine, 1802

This short epoch was called la parenthèse enchantée – or the ’enchanted parentheses’. During this period, the art world experienced a women painters’ boom. During the 1783 painting exhibition a commentator wrote that: ’women have truly become rivals of their male counterparts and these shall have to deal with some real competition!’

I was surprised at the dexterity and vigor in those paintings, mostly depicting other women. Many of which were auto-portraits, often sitting painting, with their brushes and easel at hand or holding a child. They favored intimate, domestic scenes sometimes with fun touches, like the woman who’s attaching her shoe laces. They also showed great dexterity in the ’sentimental genre’ that enhanced feelings by painting music being played for example.

Constance Mayer, 1802, auto-portrait

However, apart from the two above cited women painters, most  of the others have been ’buried’ and forgotten in the collective memory… This exquisite, rather small, exhibition finally gives them justice.  

Anne Edelstam,

Peintre Femmes, 1780 – 1830

Musée du Luxemburg, Paris

19 May to 4 July 2021

Dufy’s Paris

Raoul Dufy’s colorful paintings of Paris open the season’s exhibition at the Musée de Montmartre in Paris.

Montmartre used to be the artists quarters during the middle of the 19th – and beginning of the twentieth century. It’s still like a village, with its hills, grapevines, parks, paved side-walks, numerous ateliers and small houses. Paris, although one of Europe’s largest capitals, resembles a conglomerate of villages, assembled during different epochs to eventually form todays large city. However, Parisians still prefer to hang around their own ’arrondissement’ though, where they have their favorite bakery, butcher, cheese shop and tobacco store. 

Le Grand Concert, 1948

I took the subway up to Montmartre. This usually so overcrowded area with loads of tourists, was quite empty this rainy morning. Paris was still in lockdown but preparing for its slow reopening on May 19. Outdoor cafés will be allowed and museums will open their doors. I was lucky to be able to see this extraordinary exhibition beforehand. The museum is in itself worth the detour with its cute little garden and lovely location, overlooking Paris.

’Le Paris de Dufy’ exhibition is his view of Paris. It’s like being in a time-machine to see Dufy’s works of art. Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) showed, at a young age, a special dexterity for drawing. He became quickly well-known within the Parisian art circles for his compositions, elegance and coloring skills. The Swedish Ballet in Paris (1920-25) hired him to do the decorations for one of their ballets at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

Le départ pour la soirée, 1936

The exhibition starts on the first floor with an oil painting of the capital seen from Montmartre. Otherwise, it’s organized in thematic- rather than in chronological order and covers most of Dufy’s skills from oils to watercolors, drawings, woodcuts, tapestries and ceramics. Raoul Dufy possessed a wide range of skills but kept, throughout them all, a taste for color and elegance using a light pencil line. Splashing wasn’t his style nor did he attempt to integrate any of his contemporaries’ ways – although he dipped both into impressionism and in cubism. His compositions are special and not classical, although figurative.

In the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, Paris Bohemians met, each Sunday afternoon, at the Moulin de la Galette. Dufy, along with Von Gogh and Renoir among others, couldn’t resist the temptation to paint the typical scenes they observed. I could really feel being part of the gang just by looking at his paintings. I also thoroughly enjoyed going to the theatre and concerts along with Dufy and all the elegant women and men. He was born into a family of musicians, so music was part of his life which shows in his art.

Atelier de Paris avec nu, 1944

From the buzz of concert- and theatre halls, shifting to a quieter mood, I entered his colorful atelier, painted as an empty room, but with the windows wide opened on Paris. Still paying homage to music, by painting a violin on one of the tables. Dufy also illustrated numerous books, catalogues and brochures.

One room showed his nudes that weren’t my preferences. They reminded me somewhat of Picasso and his distorted figures. What I did love were the textiles, depicting Parisian scenes, that he had designed for an entire set of furniture, as well as a large, intricate, textile screen. During the 1920s he worked relentlessly with tapestry and some of the best known French manufacturers.

Textiles

His curiosity knew no boundaries! He also dipped into the art of frescos by doing an enormous one for the French electric company – called La Fee Electricité – or the electric fairy!

His outdoor Parisian scenes go mostly in greens and are as impressive as his fashion drawings.

Nogent, pont rose et chemin de fin, 1935

Whatever preferences one might have, there can’t be any differences in view of Raoul Dufy’s dexterity in his drawing skills or when depicting Parisian scenes. We can thank painters like him, and museums that show us their works, to get a glimpse of what life used to be during long forgotten times. This article is but a taste of what you’ll discover for yourselves once you’ve made your way up to this artistic and special part of Paris. 

La réception, 1931-35

Anne Edelstam

Musée de Montmartre

Le Paris de Dufy

12 rue Cortot, Paris 18ème

19 May – Autumn 2021