Can One Ever Get Enough of Art in Paris?!
It was very lucky to score a seat at celebrated photographer Steve McCurry’s presentation at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie Thursday afternoon introducing his new book, “Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs.” His most famous photo is of a young Afghanistan refugee woman named Sharbat Gula featured on the cover of the June 1985 issue of National Geographic Magazine at a time when she was approximately 12 years old. “Gula was known simply as ‘the Afghan Girl’ until she was formally identified in early 2002. The photograph has been likened to Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa and is sometimes popularly referred to as ‘the Afghan Mona Lisa.'” (Wikipedia.org)
My daughter, a young photographer herself (ericasimone.com), who once had the privilege of spending a day with him, dreams of ‘being’ Steve McCurry — or at least being able to create such memorable images. During his PowerPoint and video presentation, he was delightful, warm, genuine and funny. He talked about his ‘principles’ or “maxims” noted in his various journals…concepts he lived by. Taking copious notes, those that were particularly poignant were:
Follow your passion.
If the photo isn’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.
Surround yourself with good people.
These apply to anything you want to do with success, don’t you agree? MEP has the new book on sale. The line to get it signed by McCurry himself was at least 1.5 hours wait, so instead, I headed off to “A Priori Thé” for a delicious Hungarian Goulash Dinner à la Madeleine Czigler as part of their special “Autumn Nights!” (For more information on upcoming “Autumn Nights” and to reserve your spot, visit apriorithe.com/ or facebook.com/A.Priori.The.Paris or email [email protected]).
FIAC (Foire internationale d’art contemporain) was in full force its last day yesterday at the Grand Palais. The Grand Palais always makes a big impression as a venue for just about anything. As the hours wore on, the sky turned from dark to bright and so did the entire space. At one point the sun was so bright that sunglasses were necessary!
The fair itself struck me as incredibly redundant. What I mean by that is that I found the international galleries showing much of the same kind of work…or is it the artists that are producing similar works? The same themes run through almost everything: texture, reflection, scale/proportion, message…and others, and often a mixture of these. There were so many ‘ugly’ sculptures it was shocking! The kind you couldn’t imagine having to look at in any environment.
But there was an overwhelming number of brilliantly designed and executed reflective pieces that not only reflected light and image, but also sound. Artist Anish Kapoor is the master of this and his works were everywhere. And textures made from natural materials, such as bark, or fabrics and threads — even a flooring made of baseball bats! Some works were clever, others beautiful, those that were disturbing and yes, those that were simply ugly or stupid…but all in all, worth a visit into the world of contemporary art!
Before leaving the Champs-Elysées area, there was enough time to sneak into seeing the “Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera” exhibit at the Orangerie. Aside from an up-close look at the legendary couple’s individual paintings, the best part of the exhibit is the room of personal photos and videos documenting their lives. Don’t miss it.
The “Masculine/Masculine. The Nude Man in Art from 1800 to the Present Day” exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay has not been on the agenda yet, but I loved what one gay friend wrote of it:
“Poorly curated with an unfocused hanging of the show. [I asked him if the pun was intended!] An almost childish fascination with the work of Pierre et Gilles which lowered the bar on an artistic level. Works by Paul Cadmus and Robert Mapplethorpe were minimal and the few included were not showed with the importance they deserved. The omission of any work by Tom of Finland is glaring. It is unfortunate that the date of exhibition begins at 1800. The Renaissance had such a rich inclusion of the male nude. A few centuries more would have enriched the entire theme. Since it covers the span up to “nos jours,” I found the omission without explanation of modern computer generated and/or manipulated images other than Pierre et Gilles a serious lacking. Despite those reactions, Mrs. Lincoln did enjoy the play.”
Enough injection of art for one weekend…no? Or can one ever get enough? Fortunately for us, we’re in Paris!