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French Culture

May 12 2008 French Culture Newsletter

Hello all,

I’ve been making the rounds and have my opinion to offer up on these Paris expositions:

The Foundation Cartier
Patti Smith – Land 250
I love the way this museum blends modernity with nature. One of French architect Jean Nouvelle’s creations, seen from Boulevard Raspail it appears a secret garden is locked inside as walls of glass open onto fields of daisies. There is always something interesting going on inside. I’m not familiar with Patti Smith’s music and found her art, small black and white polariods, less than extraordinary. One thing I did like was the mixed medias that are incorporated: videos, music, letters, sketches, photos, and she even brought furniture from her house to set up a cosy living room in the museum.

La Pinacothèque
The Soldiers of Eternity & Man Ray
They have assembled a dozen of China’s unearthed terracotta warriors here along with some other artefacts. Separately ticketed is a small exposition of Man Ray’s Workshop. There are many photos documenting his life alongside paintings and sculptures. I like looking into his window of the ‘20s.

The Grand Palais
Monumenta & Marie Antoinette
Each year a sculptor, given carte blanche, is asked to create work on a monumental scale to be housed under the expanse of the glass-roofed Grand Palais. This year Richard Serra has erected steel panels, which he considers take inspiration from visits to Kyoto’s Zen gardens. He invites you to pace the space. Around the corner, hundreds of portraits and busts of Marie Antoinette clutter the walls of the main gallery. Her life is compared to an opera of three acts and she is labelled a victim to the whims of fashion. A shame they didn’t have any costume. La Durée has set up a macaron cart outside, how appropriate!

And here’s what I’ve been writing about…

French Fashion Haircuts – How to Avoid Getting One
The difficulty of communicating what you want is only half the battle when you step into a French salon. A coiffeur is an artist and realizing their vision of you is what powers the scissors. I’ve learned to be very articulate in what I expect before the cutting begins.

This is Paris – Children’s Book Review
Stroll the avenues taking in landmark architecture and pausing to make acquaintances along the way in Sasek's caricature of the city, This is Paris.

Hope you all enjoy your spring as the French have on this long holiday weekend, with picnics, open windows and afternoon sunbaths.

Take Care,
Melissa Demiguel
Bella French Culture Editor

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