Owning Up, Dealing in Art, and Visiting the Dead
OWNING UP WITH THE HOMEOWNERS
One reason I was in Nice last week was to attend an annual assembly of the homeowner association of our Fractional Ownership property, Le Palais du Soleil. The meeting lasted more than 3.5 hours. These meetings are both torturous and amusing!
One of the owners was brave enough to attend with me. Out of the 48 properties in the building, only about 18 attended. Most of the owners who attended were French. There were two foreigners besides ourselves. Perhaps the others weren’t available to attend. The average age, I’d say, was 75! One woman, Madame C., seemed to carry a lot of weight and my advice to the owners was to be nice and always say “Bonjour” whenever passing any other residents in the building.
Interestingly, one of the owners was denied a position on the board because the other owners openly declared (with him present) that “his French wasn’t good enough,” he’s “aggressive” and isn’t “in the spirit” of the “coproprièté.” Clearly they just don’t like the guy. I abstained my vote since I don’t know him at all.
I stayed till the very end in order to ask one important question re the replacement of the letters of the name of the building on the front of the building, which hadn’t been discussed during the meeting. The short answer is that this in in process and should be done before Christmas. Fingers crossed. But, before all that, they talked at length about pigeon poop in the courtyard. It was a fascinating 3.5 hours!
A PAINTER AND HIS DEALER
If you’re headed to the Musée Orangerie to see the Water Lilies by Claude Monet, then you’re in for a triple treat by visiting the Modigliani exhibition first (or next, or even last), on until January 15th, 2024.
The exhibition delves into a pivotal chapter in the artist’s life, the moment he crossed paths with Paul Guillaume, who would become his art dealer. Nearly a century after their first encounter in 1914, the exhibition exposes the profound impact of their connection on Modigliani’s artistic journey.
His work has always pleased me, but seen in dribs and drabs, rather than in such a collection of some of his most important works, all which were touched in some way by the gallerist, Paul Guillaume, whether collected or brokered. Of Jewish Italian origin, he arrived in Paris in 1906 as a painter, but embraced sculpture for a period of time influenced by his friend, Constatin Brancusi. He returned to painting, mostly solitary human figures, until he died in Paris at the young age of 35, of tubercular meningitis.
Modigliani met Guillaume through the poet Max Jacob in 1914—the beginning of an important relationship that fostered his success. Paul Guillaume handled over a hundred canvases, fifty drawings, and a dozen sculptures by the artist. These numbers underscore the extent of Guillaume’s involvement in promoting the artist’s work and his personal admiration for Modigliani’s creations, many of which adorned the walls of his various residences. The collection includes portraits of significant figures in Parisian society at the time, such as Max Jacob, André Rouveyre, Jean Cocteau, and Moïse Kisling, along with depictions of unknown models and striking portraits of the women who shared Modigliani’s life, including Béatrice Hastings and Jeanne Hébuterne, his final companion and the mother of his child.
Modigliani was a busy guy hobnobbing with the likes of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico and André Derain early in 1918 and towards the end of that year, he and Hébuterne moved to Nice where a daughter was born. They moved back to Paris about six months later.
Be sure to also visit the subsequent galleries of works by artists who were also represented by Paul Guillaume—Derain, Van Dongen, Matisse, and Picasso among them. Matisse is one of my favorites—his art was the basis for the decor in “Le Matisse,” my Nice apartment. There on the wall of the Orangerie was one that also hangs on my own wall in Nice, “Odalisque in Red Trousers, 1921.” But, of course, mine’s just a poster and there was the real thing in all its glory. There’s nothing quite like seeing the original of a painting you cherish!
THE DEARLY DEPARTED
If you’re like me, then Halloween party days have come and gone…and good riddance! But, the next day, known as La Toussaint, is one we can take seriously by celebrating the dearly departed. November 1st is a nationally recognized public holiday in France where it’s traditional to visit the graves of loved ones, adorning them with flowers and sometimes lighting a candle to symbolize contentment in the afterlife. Additionally, it’s common for Catholics to attend the All Saints Mass at church, known as the “Messe de la Toussaint.”
Chrysanthemums are the flower of choice for this day, which are sold at florists everywhere in various colors. They are closely associated with death and are considered a symbol of immortality, as they can endure the winter frosts, signifying the enduring memory of the departed.
It can be fun, rather than solemn, if you visit the graves of some of your most revered famous people, and because the cemeteries can be awash with people alive and kicking, not just the dearly departed.
The best cemeteries in Paris to visit on Wednesday (or any time):
• Père Lachaise Cemetery
Address: 16, rue du Repos, 75020, Paris
Established in 1804, with over 69,000 ornate tombs and more than 1 million individuals interred, Père Lachaise Cemetery is often described as a 44-hectare sculpture garden. It serves as the final resting place for notable figures such as Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and Édith Piaf, making it one of the world’s most visited cemeteries.
• Montmartre Cemetery
Address: 20, avenue Rachel, 75018 Paris
Situated in one of Paris’ artistic hubs, Montmartre Cemetery is the final resting place of many renowned artists who lived and worked in the area. Located in an abandoned gypsum quarry, it boasts a distinctive atmosphere. Visit the graves of esteemed writers Émile Zola and Alexandre Dumas, renowned film director François Truffaut and legendary dancer Vaslav Nijinsky
• Montparnasse Cemetery
Address: 3, boulevard Edouard Quinet, 75014 Paris
Known as “The Left Bank Cemetery,” Montparnasse Cemetery is often regarded by Parisians as a tranquil oasis in the midst of one of the city’s busiest districts. Besides ornate tombstones, the cemetery is graced by over 1,200 trees, primarily sophoras, thuyas, maples, ash, lime trees, and conifers. The dearly departed here include celebrated poet Charles Baudelaire, distinguished playwright Samuel Beckett, prominent industrialist André Citroën, influential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, notable writer Simone de Beauvoir, and iconic singer Serge Gainsbourg
• Passy Cemetery
Address: 2, rue du Commandant-Schlœsing, 75016 Paris
Established in 1820 under the orders of Napoleon I, Passy Cemetery is located in an upscale residential and commercial area near the Champs-Élysées. This small cemetery quickly became the aristocratic necropolis of Paris, nestled beneath chestnut trees and casting its shadow behind the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadéro. You might find impressionist painters Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot, composers Claude Debussy and Gabriel Fauré, and even Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam
• Picpus Cemetery
Address: 35 Rue de Picpus, 75012, Paris
One of the more concealed cemeteries in Paris, Picpus Cemetery is a spacious private burial ground situated away from the bustling city center in the 12th Arrondissement. During the French Revolution, noblemen guillotined were interred here in mass graves on land obtained from the Convent of the Chanoinesses de St-Augustin (1,306 victims guillotined between June 14 and July 27, 1794), as were 16 Carmelite nuns who met their end while singing hymns. In addition, for Americans, this is where the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and military officer who fought for the United States in the American Revolutionary War is interred, marked by an American flag, untouched by the Nazis during their occupation of Paris in World War II.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
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