Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Modern Art Club: Avant Garde Collectors in Le Havre

One of the pleasures of viewing art in Paris is visiting one or more of the smaller, private museums that mount specialty exhibitions. The Musée du Luxembourg, 19, rue de Vaugirad is always worth a look to see what is on offer. The new fall show focuses on the work of impressionists in and around Le Havre. Works on display by Boudin, Monet, Sisley, Jongkind, Pissarro and Corot include seascapes, landscapes and studies of clouds and light. Why this density of artistic output around Le Havre? Le Havre in the late-19th and early-20th centuries held great appeal for artists. Its busy port offered plenty of activity and visual stimulation. Tall-masted ships sailed in and out. The nearby estuary offered the kind of light and colors of interest to painters, especially Impressionists. Not insignificantly, Le Havre also had a wealth of cotton importers and businessmean willing and able to pay for art (“No cotton, no paintings,” local artist Eugène Boudin is reputed to have said). Thus, this critical mass of artists and patrons turned a provincial port city into an unlikely hotbed of modern art before and after the turn of the 20th century. Le Havre is home to an excellent Impressionist and Modern Art museum but until January 6 you can see this show of its treasures in Paris at the Musée du Luxembourg. Open daily. 11 Euros.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Le Bon Marché Turns 160!

Who better than Catherine Deneuve, the iconic living French cinema legend and fashionable femme, to kick off the launch of the 160th birthday of Le Bon Marché. Le Bon Marché is one of the world's first department stores, along with the right bank Le Samaritaine. Ms. Deneuve, who reputedly lives near the Bon Marché on the left bank, is captured in each of the store windows with clever graphic black and white illustrations. The artist is Marjane Satrapi. Each scene features a well-known Paris landmark including Invalides, D’Orsay Museum, Place St. Sulpice, and of course, Le Bon Marché. Very amusing and different. Only in Paris! And while it may not help you stay as svelte as Ms. Deneuve, don't miss a chance to visit the vast Grand Epicerie of the Bon Marché when you go to see the windows and to shop a bit. A block square emporium of gourmet foods of all types from macarons to prime meats.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Journées du Patrimoine this weekend

If you are lucky enough to be in France on September 15 and 16 plan to take advantage of the annual 'Journees du Patrimoine' event. All over France you will find free entry to buildings that are generally closed to the public, often historic buildings or public-sector buildngs that limit access. In Paris you can see inner sanctums of the Elysees Palace or the great city hall with its beautiful reception rooms. And, most museums and monuments will also be open and free... Check out for a full list all around France. Lines can be long for many very special places but this is a rare opportunity. Enjoy.