Tag Archives: museum

My Gay Paris: New Photography Exhibition at the Jeu de Paume

Paris’ place at the centre of the art world hardly needs any introduction, and we’re certainly going to remind you that the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou (to put them in chronological order) are all worth a visit if you’re a first time visitor to Paris.  If you needed another excuse, all three are within easy reach of the Marais (especially the last).

Checkered Past

But if photography is your thing, rather than painting and sculpture, then you might prefer the Jeu de Paume, a gallery with an interesting past in the north-west corner of the Jardin des Tuilieries. Originally opened in 1861 to house real tennis courts (the game is called ‘jeu de paume’ in French, hence the name), it became home to art works stolen from Jewish owners during the German occupation of Paris in the Second World War. After the war, it showcased some of France’s finest impressionist paintings, which subsequently became the backbone of the Musée d’Orsay’s collection across the river.

Retrospectives

Now, though, it specialises in photography, usually offering retrospectives to two or three individual photographers per year, as well as a more varied programme in a series of smaller galleries.

Last year’s Diane Arbus retrospective at the Jeu de Paume photography gallery was a sell-out success, with her black-and-white photos of some of the darker, seedier elements of 1950s and 1960s Americana seeming strangely out of place in the middle of the Tuileries.

Diane Arbus Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962It seems the curators are keen to repeat their success with their latest retrospective, which covers work by Berenice Abbott, another female American photographer. Born in 1898, Abbott came to Paris to learn her trade in the 1920s, shooting alongside Man Ray before becoming a successful portrait photographer.

Some of her best-known work, however, is found in the ‘Changing New York’ series, a collection commissioned as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal programme. If some of the photos seem familiar, that’s partly because they’ve achieved iconic status in their own right, but also because they are as fresh a look at New York City as they were eighty years ago. And as with Arbus, seeing these very American photographs in the centre of Paris makes for an arresting contrast.

WHAT: ‘Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), Photographs’ temporary exhibition
WHERE: Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, 1, place de la Concorde, métro Concorde
WHEN: until 29 April 2012 (other exhibitions to follow)

My Gay Paris: A Exhibition Visits Musée d’Orsay, Art in Oscar Wilde’s England

A new exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris offers an overview of the British ‘aesthetic movement’, a group of artists who reacted against the ugliness of the Industrial Revolution with a new style that put beauty and nature centre-stage. Freed from the constraints of Victorian morality, these artists were also free to express sensuality in their work in a radical new work, covering a period from the 1860s through to the last year of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1901.  They were often so daring that many of their earlier exploits were condemned as decadent and immoral.

‘Art for Art’s Sake’

Saint Cecilia (1895) — John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

The motto’s rallying cry was ‘art for art’s sake': the artist’s only job was to be produce beautiful objects, not depict reality or tell stories. This held true not just for paintings and drawings, but for furniture, ceramics and wallpaper, too. What use being an asethete if you can’t fill your home with beautiful things?

The decorative arts that flourished during the period are represented, alongside fashionable clothes and jewellery. The aesthetic movement extended beyond the visual arts into literature (which is why Wilde’s name pops up in the French title), and some examples of gorgeous first editions also form part of the exhibition.

Rather than restricting themselves to Classical sources, aesthethes like Swinburne, Rossetti and others found inspiration in Islamic and Eastern Art, with a special role for Japense prints, which had only begun arriving in Europe a decade or so earlier.

The exhibition started out at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where it was called ‘The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860–1900′; here in Paris the official English title for the French leg of the show is ‘Beauty, Morals and Voluptuousness in the England of Oscar Wilde’, which doesn’t quite have the same ring.

Sideboard (1867-1875) — Edward William Godwin (1833-1886)

It’s well worth a visit in its own right, of course, but the exhibition will also give you a chance to visit the newly-renovated galleries that house the permanent collection at the Musée d’Orsay, home to art from 1848 to 1914. After several years of work, the much-loved Impressionist gallery on the fifth floor finally re-opened.

WHAT: ‘Beauty, Morals and Voluptuousness in the England of Oscar Wilde’ Temporary Exhibition
WHERE: Musée d’Orsay, 1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur
WHEN: until 15 January 2012

My Gay Paris: Christmas is Coming in Paris

It might seem like it’s still a long way off, but here in Paris, preparations are well underway for Christmas. Lights have sprung up in the main shopping streets, and all the gay bars in our neighbourhood, the Marais, have begun hanging up the decorations.

If you’re coming to Paris in the run-up to Christmas, then we hope that you think about staying in one our gay-friendly furnished apartments. But much more importantly, though, we hope you take some time to make the most of some of the best shopping in the world to pick up some excellent presents to take your loved-ones back home!

Food

We’ve already talked about some of the exceptional food you can try in Paris here on the blog, whether it’s sweet treats like macarons from Ladurée or delicious hot chocolate from Café Angelina. Food halls, delis and even ordinary supermarkets are beginning to stock up with Christmas favourites from all over France, including foie gras, with local consumers showing none of the squeamishness other countries have about force-feeding geese to produce the fatty liver pâté. Bakers and pâtissiers, meanwhile, are hard at work producing the bûche de Noël, the traditional Christmas yule log.

Many of these treats, and more, are available at the annual Christmas Market, which is already open on the Champs-Élysées.

Fashion

Two weeks ago we recommended shopping on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, but if your budget doesn’t quite stretch, then you could try one of our favourite online sites, studiohomme.com (with a showroom at 62, rue Réaumur), which specialises in designer menswear from big French names like Kitsuné as well as up-and-coming creators.

Design

Paris might be well-known for the old masters lining the walls of its fabulous galleries, but if you’re interested in slightly more modern art and design, then you’re spoilt for choice. Our favourite is the Atarzart Design Bookstore (83, quai Valmy), with a range of books on photography, architecture and more. It also enjoys a great canal-side location, perfect for a stroll.

Museums

One of the best places to pick up unusual gifts is at a museum shop, and two of Paris’ newest cultural institutions have stores that go far beyond the usual souvenir poster. La Gaîtié Lyrique (3 bir, rue Papin ), a former theatre which has been transformed into a museum of digital culture, carries a range of gadgets, gizmos and hard to find video games for the geek in your life. French charity Emmaüs recycles unwanted clothes and furniture, selling them on to raise money in charity shops around the city. Their new location at Le Centquatre (104, rue d’Aubervilliers), though, only sees the best pieces, with real bargains to be add on exclusive designer items. It’s well worth a visit and unlike any charity store you’ve ever seen!