Monday, April 30, 2012

Z = Zadkine, Ossip - Artist - A to Z Final!

From Russia, Zadkine came to Paris . . .

Ossip Zadkine, (July 14, 1890 – November 25, 1967) was a Belarusian-born artist who came to live in France.  He's primarily known as a sculptor, but he also produced paintings and lithographs.  He left behind a legacy.

After attending art school in London, Zadkine settled in Paris about 1910.  There he became part of the new Cubist movement between 1914-1925, although his style was influenced by African Art.  In 1920, he married Valentine Prax, a painter.  There were no children.

Our first introduction to Ossip Zadkine was seeing this sculpture in the photo below.  We had come to visit Les Deux Magots in the Latin quarter, which was a neighbour to Prometheus in the square.  The statue caught our attention right away. 

'Prometheus', Ossip Zadkine, Latin Quarter, by DG Hudson

Zadkine's best known work is the sculpture The Destroyed City, 1951-1953, a man without a heart, a memorial to the destruction of the centre of Rotterdam in 1940.

The Destroyed City, Zadkine-Wikipedia, CC

Between 1955 and 1960 he produced sculptures dedicated to Vincent van Gogh. He dedicated a statue, Two Brothers van Gogh to Zundert, Vincent's birthplace.  Zadkine died in Paris in 1967 at the age of 77, after undergoing abdominal surgery.  He was interred in the Cimetiere du Montparnasse.

His former home and studio in the 6th arrondissement were converted into the Musee Zadkine.  This museum is near the historic St-Germain-des-Pres neighbourhood.  It's a free Paris museum dedicated to the sculptor Ossip Zadkine, from the "Ecole de Paris" school of art (1929-1967). We plan to visit there next time. . .


Are you a fan of sculpture? Ever heard of Ossip Zadkine?  Do you like the works of Vincent Van Gogh?  Please let me know in the comments.  Are you glad this is the last A - Z post?


References:  Zadkine Biography  Photo of the Artist

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y = Yves Montand, Actor - A to Z

A Leading Man. . . Actor, Singer

He was the romantic Italian singer who became a French actor.  Born as Ivo Livi  outside of Florence Italy, October 13, 1921, he died November 9, 1991 at the age of 70.  Montand went on to international recognition as a singer and actor, starring in numerous films. His crooner songs, especially those about Paris, became instant classics.

Montand's family left Italy for France in 1923.  He grew up in Marseilles, where, as a young man, he worked in his sister's barber shop and later on the docks. He began a career in show business as a music-hall singer.  In 1944, he was discovered by Edith Piaf in Paris and she made him part of her act, becoming his mentor and lover.

 After working in Piaf's nightclub act and appearing with her in the 1946 film Star Without Light, Montand gained stature as a solo actor/singer, proving his dramatic mettle in Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear (1955).  The actor enjoyed a career renaissance as a character player in the 1980s.

In 1951, Montand married actress Simone Signoret, a union that lasted until her death in 1985.  His second marriage was to Carole Amiel (1987-1991) who gave him a son, his only child.  He had a number of affairs, the most notable being Marilyn Monroe while she was married to Arthur Miller.

Montand embarked on an affair with Marilyn Monroe during filming of the ill fated film Let's Make Love. He had been personally recommended by Arthur Miller (who was married to Monroe) after Miller saw him acting in a foreign movie version of The Crucible called Les Sorcières de Salem. Montand always expressed regret over the affair as he considered Miller a 'good friend'. 

As Shirley MacLaine wrote in her 1995 memoir, My Lucky Stars, she and Montand maintained an affair during the filming of My Geisha.

In the French dubbings of Looney Tunes, the character Pepe Le Pew is an Italian skunk named 'Pepe le putois'.  The voice characterization was often based on Yves Montand's performances.  Interesting that his character was portrayed as a skunk.

After filming one day, he died from a heart attack.  On the very last day, after his very last shot.  They were doing retakes.  He finished what he was doing and then he died, very quietly.  He is buried next to Simone Signoret in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.

Movies: Grand Prix, 1966; My Geisha 1962.  That's a sampling.

DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc,  (Art, Film, Places, and People)

Have you heard of Yves Montand (a retro 50s-60s French film actor)?   Simone Signoret?  Have you seen Grand Prix?  For a sample of his crooning, listen to the youtube below.  Any comments?  Did you like Pepi Le Pew?


YVES MONTAND - Les Feuilles Mortes  (French retro crooner)


References:  Photo of Yves Montand   Yves Montand Films


Friday, April 27, 2012

X = XVI, Louis, King of France - A to Z

Louis XVI

Ending a Dynasty of a thousand years. . .

Louis XVI - King of France, Wikipedia (PD-Art)

 Louis XVI, King of France, was a Bourbon monarch who ruled France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of France from 1791 to 1792.  In 1792, the National Convention abolished the monarchy and declared France a republic.

Louis was born at Versailles on 23 August 1754. In 1770, he married Marie Antoinette, Austrian archduchess, daughter of the emperor and empress of Austria.
By the time that Louis-Auguste and Marie-Antoinette were married, the people of France generally regarded the Austrian alliance with dislike, and Marie-Antoinette was seen as an unwelcome foreigner.

In 1774, Louis succeeded his grandfather Louis XV as king of France.  Succeeding Louis XV, his unpopular grandfather, Louis XVI was well aware of the growing discontent of the French population against the absolute monarchy.

Louis XVI of France, by Antoine-François Callet (PD)

French support for the colonists in the American War of Independence had brought the country to the verge of bankruptcy. At the same time, accusations of frivolity, extravagance and scandalous behaviour against the queen, Marie Antoinette, further discredited the monarchy.  In 1789, to avert the deepening crisis, Louis agreed to summon the 'estates-general' in order to try and raise taxes.

Marie Antoinette, Queen to King Louis XVI, by DG Hudson

Rumours that the king intended to suppress the assembly provoked the popular storming of the Bastille prison, a symbol of repressive royal power, on 14 July 1789.  In October, Louis and his family were forced by the mob to return to Paris from their palace at Versailles. In June 1791, they attempted to escape, which many  considered proof of Louis' treasonable dealings with foreign powers. He was forced to accept a new constitution, thereby establishing a constitutional monarchy.

Louis XVI was found guilty of treason and executed at the guillotine on 21 January 1793. Marie Antoinette was executed nine months later, on October 16, 1793.

An era had come to an end. 

DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc. (Art, Film, Places, People)


What do you think of the accusations aimed at Marie Antoinette?  True or False? 
She was only fifteen years old when married to Louis and brought to Versailles. 


References:  Historic figures Wikipedia  Flight to Varennes

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W = Wilde Thing - A to Z Challenge

Wilde, Oscar
A man before his time. . .

Oscar Wilde, by Napoleon Sarony (Wikipedia, PD-Art)

Wilde, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today, he is remembered for his epigrams, plays and the circumstances of his imprisonment, followed by his early death.  His story is a good illustration of the society kiss of death.  One minute you're the darling, step out of line, and you're old news.

After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles.  He published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada and then returned to London where he worked as a journalist.  Wilde became one of the most well-known personalities of his day. 

In mid-1887, Wilde was the editor of The Lady's World magazine, his name prominently appearing on the cover. He renamed it The Woman's World and raised its tone, adding serious articles on parenting, culture, and politics, keeping discussions of fashion and arts. Two pieces of fiction were usually included, one to be read to children, the other for the ladies themselves.

At the turn of the 1890s, he wrote of decadence, duplicity, and beauty in his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). He wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but, it was refused a licence.  Wilde instead then produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success, Wilde became embroiled in a social scandal related to his sexual preferences and ended up serving time in prison at hard labour.  Upon his release he left Ireland, never to return there or to Britain again. He lived the rest of his life in France, and there he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.

Oscar Wilde's Monument, before the cleaning, by DG Hudson

Oscar's health declined sharply until he collapsed during chapel from illness and hunger.  His right ear drum was ruptured in the fall, an injury that would contribute to his death. He spent two months in the infirmary.

Wilde's final address was at the dingy Hôtel d'Alsace (L'Hôtel) in Paris.  He died of cerebral meningitis on 30 November 1900, destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.  Wilde's physicians, Dr. Paul Cleiss and A'Court Tucker, reported that the condition stemmed from an old suppuration of the right ear.

Oscar Wilde's Monument Side and front, before cleanup, by DG Hudson

In 1909, his remains were disinterred to Père Lachaise Cemetery inside the city.  His tomb was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein.  Until recently, Oscar's monument was covered with kisses, comments, signatures, and more as high as humans hands could reach.  The tomb was cleaned and partially covered by protective clear material.  See the video below for the details.

'No More Wilde Kisses' Huffington Post Article


Do you like Oscar Wilde's writing? His witty quotes?  Please share any comments about his works that you've read.  Have you read or seen Dorian Gray?

DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc. (Art, Film, Places, and People

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Oscar Wilde's Monument  Bio - Oscar Wilde  Oscar Wilde, general info Historic figures

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V = Versailles Palace - A to Z Challenge

 Château de Versailles

Versailles Entrance Gate, Palace in back, by DG Hudson

The Palace of Versailles or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. The Sun King lived here. 

Versailles, Paris, Gilded Gate, by DG Hudson

In the photo above, the sun emblem appears in the gate design, right below the crown.  When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, it is a suburb of Paris, 20 kilometres southwest of the French capital.

Versailles, Hall of Mirrors Ceiling Detail, by DG Hudson

The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789, after the beginning of the French Revolution.  Versailles is famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.

Versailles, Hall of Mirrors, by DG Hudson

In the early seventeenth century, Louis XIII was invited on several hunting trips in the forests surrounding Versailles, by the family that owned the property. Pleased with the location, Louis ordered the construction of a hunting lodge in 1624. He acquired the property and began to make enlargements in 1632, eight years later. Louis XIV played and hunted at the site as a boy. This structure would become the core of the new Versailles palace.

Versailles Ceiling Detail, with Royal emblem (blue), by DG Hudson

In 1678, Louis XIV began to gradually move the court to Versailles. The court was officially established there on 6 May 1682. By moving his court and government to Versailles, Louis XIV hoped to extract more control of the government from the nobility, and to distance himself from the population of Paris.

Statuary in the Versailles Gardens, by DG Hudson

He established a center of power at this court with government offices, and attendant court functionaries to deal with the thousands of courtiers and their retinues.  The palace became a village of its own with stables, formal gardens and activities.

Versailles - The Queen's Bedchambers with seating, by DG Hudson

By requiring that nobles of a certain rank and position spend time each year at Versailles, Louis prevented them from developing their own regional power at the expense of his own and kept them from countering his efforts to centralize the French government in an absolute monarchy. 

Versailles - The King's Bedchambers, by DG Hudson

The meticulous and strict court étiquette that Louis established was epitomized in the elaborate ceremonies and exacting procedures that accompanied his daily life. 

Versailles Inner Courtyard with Gilt embellishment, by DG Hudson

Like other French court manners, étiquette was quickly imitated in other European courts.

Versailles Gardens with Statuary, by DG Hudson

The search for the original furniture continues, lost during times of unrest and civil protests.   When these pieces are found, they are purchased and returned to the palace as part of the exhibit. (Per our tour guide, items have shown up on ebay.) 

Would you want to live with 3000 aristocrats and their supporting staff?  Have you ever seen Versailles?  Do you like visiting castles or palaces?  Please share in the comments.  I'm listening.


References: - Versailles  -  Chateau de Versailles  - Versailles History

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U = Underground Paris - A to Z Challenge

Underground now, not in Roman times. . .

Underground Paris, Antiquity Find,  by DG Hudson

Underground Paris = Crypt Archeologique

When the Romans came, the Parisii lived here.  In this museum, you'll see the successive buildings erected on this site since Ancient Times. 

Crypte Archeologique, Notre Dame Square by DG Hudson

During the Gallo-Roman Period, Paris was known as Lutetia, which developed from the first and second centuries BC.  The Crypte Archeologique contains the remains of Lutetia, including its third century BC walls, its streets and heating systems and even the ruins of a cathedral. Some of the remains are medieval, dating to the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

Roman Archeological find, by DG Hudson

The Archeological Crypt of the Parvis of Notre-Dame is a museum of the City of Paris, situated just below the front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, in the 4th district, on the Ile de la Cite'.

Crypte Archeologique, Roman Ruins, by Green Eye

During the late 18th century, the decision was made to create three new large-scale suburban burial grounds on the outskirts of the city, and condemn all existing parish cemeteries within city limits. They were actually created in the early 19th century, outside the central area of the capital.

These new cemeteries were: Montmartre Cemetery in the north, Père Lachaise Cemetery in the east, Passy Cemetery in the west. Later, Montparnasse Cemetery was added in the south.


Underground Paris = The Catacombs

Arrête! C'est ici l'empire de la Mort
Halt! This is the Empire of Death'  Catacombs of Paris and Photo

After descending a narrow spiral stone stairwell of 19 metres to the darkness and silence broken only by the gurgling of a hidden aqueduct channelling local springs away from the area, and after passing through a long and twisting hallway of mortared stone, visitors find themselvesbefore a stone portal, in the ossuary.

The government had been searching for and consolidating long abandoned stone quarries in and around the capital since 1777, with the Police Lieutenant General overseeing the renovations.  From the eve of a consecration ceremony on the 7th April the same year, behind a procession of chanting priests, began a parade of black-covered bone-laden horse-drawn wagons that continued for years to come.  The exhumation and transfer of all Paris' dead to the underground sepulture began in 1786, taking until 1788 to complete.

The official name for the catacombs is l'Ossuaire Municipal. Although this cemetery covers only a small section of underground tunnels comprising "les carrières de Paris" ("the quarries of Paris"), Parisians today often refer to the entire tunnel network as "the catacombs". 

Opened in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1874.


Have you seen either the Crypte Archeologique or the Catacombs?  I didn't see the Catacombs, so let me know if you have. Please share in the comments what you think about going Underground (as in ruins, caverns. . ).

References:  Additional info re-Crypt  Crypt Archeologique  Additional info re-Crypt


Monday, April 23, 2012

T = Trocadéro, Paris - A to Z Challenge

 On the hill of Chaillot. . .

Place du Trocadéro view from the Eiffel Tower, by DG Hudson

Trocadéro = an emporium or place of trade

Place du Trocadéro, Paris

The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot, is an area of Paris, France, in the 16th arrondissement, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.  The hill of the Trocadéro is the hill of Chaillot, a former village.

For the 1878 World's Fair, the old Palais du Trocadéro was built.  This was a site for meetings of international trade organizations during the fair.  In the old palace garden, two large animal statues, a rhinoceros and an elephant, were removed and stored during the demolition of the old Trocadero palace.  They were re-located to the  Musée d'Orsay in 1986.  In my Q post for the A to Z Challenge, you can see the rhinoceros near the MO sign. 


The Trocadero and beyond

The Trocadero with La Defense on Horizon, by DG Hudson

For the Exposition Internationale of 1937, the old Palais du Trocadéro was demolished and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot which now tops the hill.  Like the old palace, the Palais de Chaillot features two wings shaped to form a wide arc.  These wings were built on the foundations of the former building.  The wings in the new building are independent with no central element to connect them.  Instead, a wide esplanade leaves an open view from the place du Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower. 

The Eiffel Tower seen from the Trocadero Plaza, by DG Hudson

Jardins du Trocadéro (Gardens of the Trocadero)

With sloping fairways that run along the river, the garden terraces feature a number of sculptures, some dating from the 1930s, including the gilded bronze fountain sculpture shown below.

Fountains, Bull and Deer, at the Trocadero, Paris, Fr. by DG Hudson

The main feature, called the Fountain of Warsaw, is a long basin, or water mirror, with twelve fountain-creating columns of water 12 meters high; twenty four smaller fountains four meters high; and ten arches of water. In 2011, the fountain's waterworks were completely renovated. This water sculpture contains the only exposition fountains which still exist today, and still function as they once did.

At the lower end of the water fountain is the Carrousel de Trocadéro, a beautiful two storied creation, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.  See link below.

There's a lot of history connected with this location in Paris.  If you want to know more, I've included reference links below.


DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc. (Art, Film, Places, and People)

What do you think of the design of the Trocadero Did you know what the name meant, or that a battle of the same name took place in Spain? OR Do you like carousels? Any favourites?  Please share in the comments.


References:  Trocadéro
The old Palais du Trocadéro, vintage photos 
Gardens of the Trocadero
Carousel at Trocadero

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S = Seine River, Paris - A to Z

Romance, Intrigue, Trysts . . .it's the perfect setting. 

The Seine River in Paris, tour boats on left, by DG Hudson

Seine River, Paris

The Seine (Fr: La Seine) is a 776 km (482 mi) long river and important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. The Seine rises near Dijon in eastern central France, and flows through Paris and into the English Channel.  The river is only 24 metres (80 ft) above sea level 446 km (277 mi) from its mouth, making it slow flowing and easily navigable.

Seine River from the Eiffel Tower, by DG Hudson

The 1910 Great Flood of Paris

In January 1910, the Seine flooded 20 feet (6.1 m) above normal, drowning streets throughout the city of Paris and sending thousands of Parisians to emergency shelters. The 1910 Great Flood of Paris was the worst the city had seen since 1658 when the water reached only a few centimetres higher.

The Seine again rose to threatening levels in 1924, 1955, 1982 and 1999–2000. After a first-level flood alert in 2003, about 100,000 works of art were moved out of Paris, the largest relocation of art since World War II. Much of the art in Paris is kept in underground storage rooms that would be flooded. 


Evening by the Seine

Bridge view of the Seine River, Paris, by DG Hudson

We managed to walk by or across the Seine at least once a day.  I haggled with a Spanish painter who displayed his canvases by the tour boats, on the banks (the quai) of the Seine River.  (Mostly, he tried to get us to haggle.)  He ended up throwing in one extra painting because we came back a second time. 


Paris Beach Scene

Since 2002, Paris-Plages (Paris Beaches) has been held every summer on the Paris banks of the Seine River: a transformation of the paved banks into a beach with sand and facilities for sunbathing and entertainment.  Riverside thoroughfares become car-free resorts for pedestrians. The Paris Plages starts around July 20 and lasts four weeks.   It's more reasonable than the Côte d'Azur.

Seine with Alexander III bridge in background , by DG Hudson


Seine Trivia

After the burning at the stake of Joan of Arc in 1431, her ashes were thrown into the Seine from the medieval stone Mathilde Bridge.  Per Wikipedia, In 2006, Joan's 'reported remains' were tested by a forensics team and proven to be false, so this story of the ashes rings true.

According to his will, Napoleon, who died in 1821, wished to be buried on the banks of the Seine. His request was not granted.  He rests now at the Panthéon, a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.


Intrigue and Desperation

The Seine River was a popular site for suicides and the disposal of murder victims.  In 2007, fifty-five bodies were retrieved from its waters; in February 2008, the body of a celebrity was found there.  Many large rivers have this same problem.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s over the space of six years, 306 bodies were retrieved, the highest number in one day being 16. They were kept in the morgue for many years, and some were never identified.  (The French Revolution covered 1789–1799.)


DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc. (Art, Film, Places and People)

Have you seen the Seine River? Any impressions?  If not, do you like walking by a water source or do you prefer the woodsy terrain?  Please share in the comments.

References:  The Seine River  River Cruises in Paris   City of Paris, Paris Plages  Paris-Plages


Friday, April 20, 2012

R = Rue de Rivoli - A to Z Challenge

The Paris Metro sign. . .

Art Nouveau Paris Metro sign, rue de Rivoli, by DG Hudson

Rue de Rivoli

It's one of the most famous streets in Paris, a pleasant commercial street whose shops include the most fashionable names in the business.  The length runs through the 4th and the 1st arrondissements.  This street bears the name of one of Napoleon's battles, Rivoli, 1797.

Napoleon and the rue de Rivoli

Napoleon I decided to build a street from the Place de la Concorde along the Tuileries and the Louvre, across the Place de la Bastille (a wasteland after the 1789 Revolution), all the way to the Faubourg Saint Antoine.  For the first time, a handsome, regular, wide street would face the north wing of the old Louvre Palace.  The architecture was to be symmetrical, sober, and incorporate pedestrian-friendly passages and arcades that would eventually extend for almost a mile.

The long line of massive buildings that make up the northern side of the rue de Rivoli, with their covered and columned arcades, are a result of Paris' reconstruction in the early 1840s. These buildings now house the quarter's most tourist-oriented shops, boutiques and night-clubs. This walkway can get crowded, so keep valuables close and out-of-sight.

North of the rue de Rivoli, at the point where the Grands Boulevards crossed an enormous new square, the Opera Garnier was built. Behind the opera house today, you can find the largest department stores, the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.


 On Marais market day. . .

Marais Street Market on the rue de Rivoli, by DG Hudson

Our rented apartment in the Marais was right on the rue de Rivoli, four flights up, with the bedroom facing a quiet courtyard.  I won't forget the sounds of the city - the traffic, the motorcycles, the polite but persistent honking - that drifted up to our 1800s style windows.  Every morning, I opened those large windows so I could hear the hum  of Paris.

Further along the rue de Rivoli, there's the Hotel de Ville (Paris City Hall), the Louvre Museum, and beyond that, the Tuileries gardens.  The BHV (Bazaar de l'Hotel de Ville), is a large French department store where we shopped a few times.  East along the rue de Rivoli, at the Place des Pyramides, is the gilded statue of Jean d’Arc (Joan of Arc) situated close to where she was wounded. See J = Jean d'Arc

Add cafes and sidewalk food carts in strategic places to the above and you'll have a good image of this historical street.


A former palace, the Louvre. . .

The Louvre North Wing faces the rue de Rivoli, by Green Eye


On the rue de Rivoli. . .the Hotel de Ville

Hotel de Ville in the Evening, Paris, by DG Hudson

DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc.  (Art, Film, Places, and People)

Have you heard of the rue de Rivoli?  Did you know Napoleon was responsible for having it built?  Please share any comments.



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q = Quai d'Orsay and Quai Branly - A to Z

 On the Quai d'Orsay, is the Musée d'Orsay

Musee d'Orsay (MO) near the Quai d'Orsay - by Green Eye

A Quai = a pier or mooring used by boats and ships for taking on or landing cargo and passengers.   There are other variations of this word, but in this post the pronunciation should rhyme with 'day'.  Two examples are the Quai d'Orsay and the Quai Branly in Paris.

Quai d'Orsay is located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, part of the left bank of the Seine River, and the name of the street that runs beside it.  The Quai becomes the Quai Anatole France, east of the Palais Bourbon, and the Quai de Branley west of the Pont de l'Alma.

Musée d'Orsay Clock Detail, Quai d'Orsay, by DG Hudson

The Quai d'Orsay, along the banks of the Seine River, has historically been a preferred location for artists to paint.  The Gare d'Orsay, situated at the Quai d'Orsay was finished in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle and exhibited as the first electrified urban rail terminal in the world.  It was the terminus for the railways of southwestern France until 1939.  The revamped interior of the train station is now the home of the Musée d'Orsay.


Quai Branly

View of Quai Branly area from Eiffel Tower, by DG Hudson

Quai Branly Museum, or Musee de Quai Branly, is located near the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement in París.  It features indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

The museum contains 267,000 objects in its permanent collection, with 3,500 items from the collection on display.  The museum and the quai are named after the physicist Edourd Branly.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to browse this museum.


Do you live in an area that has a term similar to 'Quai'?  One alternate is Quay.  Please share in the comments if you know of other variations or pronunciations of this word. 


References:'Orsay  Gare d'Orsay, the train station'Orsay  Info Quai d'Orsay  Info Quai Branly'Orsay  Musee d'Orsay Interior view

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P = Pablo Picasso in Paris - A to Z Challenge

A Spanish artist came to town. . .

Pablo Picasso 1962, via Wikipedia Commons (PD)

Pablo Picasso, the Spanish painter of Guernica, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer.  His complete name is 'Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso'.  Thankfully, he used the short form.  Picasso demonstrated uncanny artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. 

Best Known Works:

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907)

Guernica (1937)

The Weeping Woman (1937)


Picasso made his first trip to Paris in 1900, when it was the art capital of Europe. He met his Parisian friend, the journalist and poet Max Jacob soon after arriving.  Soon they shared an apartment in Montmartre; Max slept at night while Picasso slept during the day and worked at night.  These were times of poverty, cold and desperation. Much of Pablo's early work was burned to keep the small room warm.

While in Paris, Picasso became part of an artistic group of friends in the Montmartre and Montparnasse quarters, including André Breton, poet Guillaume Apollinaire, writer Alfred Jarry, and Gertrude Stein.   By 1905, Picasso had become a favourite of the American art collectors, Gertrude and Leo Stein.  Gertrude eventually became Picasso's principal patron, acquiring and exhibiting his work in her informal Salon at her home in Paris.  At one of these gatherings in 1905, he was introduced to Henri Matisse who became his lifelong friend and rival.

Le Bateau-Lavoir

Le Bateau Lavoir, Picasso lived and painted here - by DG Hudson

Pablo Picasso took up residence in the Le Bateau Lavoir between 1900 and 1904.  He had moved away by 1911, and most of the other artists followed as war loomed in 1914.  It was in this milieu that Picasso first discussed Cubism. While in the Bateau-Lavoir he painted one of his most noted works, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

Women were attracted to Pablo's brooding and bohemian ways in his younger days and throughout his life. The photographer and painter Dora Maar was a lover and constant companion of Picasso. The two were closest in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and it was Maar who documented the painting of Guernica

Throughout his life Picasso maintained a number of mistresses in addition to his wife or primary partner.  As a result, his marriages were marked by strife and two of his ladies killed themselves after his death.  Picasso was married twice and had four children by three women.

Pablo Picasso died on 8 April 1973 in Mougins, France.  Jacqueline Roque, his third wife, prevented his children Claude and Paloma from attending the funeral.  Devastated after Picasso's death, she took her own life in 1986; she was 59 years old.  Four children survived. 

Picasso was another of those interesting personalities that gravitated to Paris at the same time.  A passionate man who pursued his vision.  He lived life the same way.

My favourite Picasso?  Guernica

Are you a fan of Picasso's art? Any favourite works, sculptures by Pablo?  Please share in the comments.

***  - Artists at Bateau Lavoir  - Pablo Picasso - Artworks, quotes and biography


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O = Opera Garnier (Opéra de Paris) A to Z

Remember the setting for the Phantom of the Opera?
This is it. . .

Opéra Garnier, Paris, France - by DG Hudson

Opéra Garnier

This theatre is also called the Opéra de Paris or simply the Opéra.  It was the primary home of the Paris Opera and the Paris Opera Ballet until 1989, when a new 2,700-seat house, the Opéra Bastille, with elaborate facilities for set and production changes, opened at the Place de la Bastille.  Opera Garnier is now used mainly for ballet. 

I learned too late about the Opera Garnier tours from a fellow traveler, so my photos are of the building exterior only.  I'm not sure if they permit photography inside the Opera.  It's another central location to plan your walks from, as the Hop-On Hop Off Bus and other tour buses frequent this area. 

Opera Garnier Roof Detail with Gilt - by DG Hudson

The Palais Garnier / Opera Garnier is probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris.  This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux's 1911 novel, The Phantom of the Opera, and the novel's more recent adaptations.  Among the buildings constructed in Paris during the Second Empire, the Opera Garnier was the most expensive, and the only one considered a masterpiece.

Composers, Musicians decorate the Opera Garnier by DG Hudson

Gilding seems appropriate on such a grand building used for the performing arts.  On a sunny day, this building shines golden.


Have you seen the Phantom of the Opera?  The Opera Garnier?  Please share in the comments.  Or, do you prefer the movies to live theatre?


Home page - Opera Garnier Palais Garnier

Monday, April 16, 2012

N = Nuit Blanche, Paris - A to Z Blog Challenge

Nuit Blanche = White Night, All-nighter, Sleepless Night

Nuit Blanche, Midnight 2010 on the rue de Rivoli - by Green Eye


Nuit Blanche, an all-night or night-time arts festival, first began in Paris on October 5, 2002.  Since then, this trek through the streets of cultural Paris and its contemporary art scene has come back every year, usually in October.

Museums, private and public art galleries, and other cultural institutions are open and free of charge.  Movies range from new and experimental to retro and are shown on the sides of buildings.  Folding chairs are set up at intervals and art events are staged in the small side streets and behind buildings, with temporary lighting to keep the  streets bright.  This is the 'White Night'. 


Les Halles Carousel - Paris, France by DG Hudson


The Nuit Blanche idea originated with Jean Blaise, who founded the Research Center for Cultural Development in Nantes in 1984.  In 2001, when Bertrand Delanoë became Mayor of Paris, his deputy, Christophe Girard, invited Blaise to create an event there, and the Paris Nuit Blanche was born on October 5, 2002.

Bringing art within everyone’s reach, using it to cast a new light on the city, and generally treating everyone to a fun time. Christophe Girard, Paris Deputy for Culture, Paris Nuit Blanche, 2002. ( See links below)


A number of European cities have emulated this open, free-of-charge event. So have the Canadian cities of Montreal and Toronto. At last count, there were planned events in over 120 cities.  I hope this trend continues.  The idea of art and culture that is more accessible for students, seniors and families is appealing. 

We happened to be in Paris for the Nuit Blanche Party in October 2010 out of pure chance, but it provided a fitting finale to our trip.

DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc. (Art, Film, Places, and People)

Should cities require their museums and galleries to be open and free, one day a month?  Would this be successful in your city?   Please share in the comments. 


References:  Nuit Blanche in Paris

Nuit Blanche Info from the City of Paris


Saturday, April 14, 2012

M = Montmartre, Paris - A to Z Blog Challenge

 Many artists lived here. . .

Bateau Lavoir, Our Montmartre guide in blue, by DG Hudson

Montmartre lures us with hints of the past.  The village atmosphere of some of the streets recalls the late 1800s when Montmartre was the haven of artists and others who couldn't afford to live in the city center.  This historically rich area been used as the setting in several hit films. (La vie en rose, Amélie, Moulin Rouge-1954 and 2001)

Many famous artists had studios here or worked around the community of Montmartre.  The list contains the elite of modern art: Salvador Dali, Amadeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.  Some of them worked and slept in shifts at the Bateau Lavoir, an artists' studio.

Le Bateau Lavoir, Montmartre, Paris - by DG Hudson

Le Bateau-Lavoir is a name which French painter Max Jacob coined for an area at the top of the steps leading to No. 13 Rue Ravignan, in Montmartre, Paris (Place Emile Goudeau). In the mid-19th century, artists such as Johan Jongkind and Camille Pissarro came to live in Montmartre.  Other artists started to settle at the Bateau-Lavoir in the 1890s, but after 1914 (the outbreak of WWI) most of them relocated to Montparnasse.


The Moulin Rouge, Paris - DG Hudson Collection

The Moulin Rouge is all that remains of the many saloons and dance-halls that once lined the north side of the boulevard, but today it has a different look.  A walking tour with an English speaking guide is a great investment and fairly reasonable.  It makes sense in some areas to join one of these small tours to avoid getting lost among winding streets.

La Moulin de la Galette

Moulin de la Galette, Montmartre Windmill, Paris  by DG Hudson

The Moulin de la Galette is the only windmill in working order in Montmartre. Once a famous tavern was here, but that part belongs to a private property now and is  inaccessible to the public. In the 19th century, Le Moulin de la Galette represented diversion for Parisians seeking entertainment, a glass of wine, and bread made from flour ground by the windmill.  It was cheaper there too, being outside the city limits.

Artists, such as Renoir, van Gogh, and Pissarro have immortalized Le Moulin de la Galette in their works.


Guinguettes were popular drinking establishments located in the suburbs of Paris and other cities in France. Guinguettes would serve as restaurants and often, as dance venues. They were especially popular on Sundays and holidays, when Parisians would visit to enjoy themselves and to get drunk cheaply. Today, the term 'guingette' is still used for a waterside refreshment place, particularly open-air, in France.


Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Sacré-Cœur, Montmartre, Paris - by DG Hudson

At the top of the hill is Sacré-Cœur, one of the sights we had climbed the hill to see, along with the view of Paris spread out at your feet.  The tour ends at the church, leaving the tour group to find their own way back via the stairs at both sides. 


DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc. (Art, Film, Places, and People)


What do you visit when you go to another city? 
Monuments? Cathedrals? Theme parks? Literary spots? Sports venues? Pubs? Or, do you check out the local neighborhoods?  Please share in the comments.


References:  Paris Districts Montmartre Le Bateau-Lavoir

Friday, April 13, 2012

L = Louvre Museum - A to Z Blog Challenge

Musée du Louvre

The Louvre and the Glass Pyramid, Paris - by Green Eye

The Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre, is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument. It's a landmark of Old Paris, located in the 1st arrondissement, with one side facing the rue de Rivoli. 

Entry into the Louvre is through the Glass Pyramid, located in the inner courtyard.  I expected the effect of the old (the Louvre building) and the new (the pyramids) to be jarring.  Instead, the transparency allows for the Louvre building to be seen or reflected by the pyramid.  Commissioned by President Francois Mitterrand, the large pyramid was completed in 1989 by I. M. Pei. 

Louvre Interior Gallery, Antiquities - by DG Hudson

It's difficult to indicate the size of this palace and its galleries without a reference point, like the crowds above. No expense was spared in the flooring, the marble, the light fixtures and the gilt.  Palais du Louvre began its life as a 12th century fortress.  A model representation of the medieval version is on display in the basement, where the original foundations of the old Louvre castle can be seen.

Louvre Painted and Gilded Ceiling by DG Hudson

In 1682, King Louis XIV, the Sun King, moved his household to the Palace of Versailles keeping the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including a collection of antique sculpture.

Antiquities, The Louvre, Paris - by DG Hudson

During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces.  Treasures from antiquity survived because of this wise decision. 

The Louvre Museum Interior, Paris, by DG Hudson

What do you think of the Louvre?  Do you like art museums?  Or do you think of The Da Vinci Code?  Please share in the comments. 


References:  Louvre home page  Paris Districts Louvre Museum, Wikipedia  Louvre Pyramid