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Les Matissiens

Ok, yes. I’m now one year older…and hopefully a little wiser. Wisdom is one of those things that comes with age that can’t be achieved any other way, but by living life to the fullest, experiencing all you can and learning as much as you can along the way. 

Moving to Paris in many ways was the beginning of broadening an otherwise rather ordinary existence. Thanks to all of you who wrote in for your wonderful birthday wishes and to the City of Paris for her never-ending wisdom in living life in a way that I might never have known.

Lots of people move to Paris for many different reasons. Aside from Expats who come from other parts of the globe, there are thousands who move here each year from other cities in France. Ask any Parisian where he/she grew up and nine times out of ten (just a guess), it will be some other corner of the country, as Paris offers the same to them as it offers us – a more fulfilling life. 

My ‘little birdie’ at the Hôtel de Ville told me today that of the influx of people who move to Paris from other cities in France, in the last five years, most have come from Toulouse (1,471), followed by Bordeaux (1,302), Lille (1,218), Nantes (1,061), Nice (1,037), Rennes (1,018), Montpelier (882) and Grenoble (756). This is not to say that these are not very livable cities – they are, and quite respectable, each in their own right…but I suppose, as they say, “It isn’t Paris.” Paris is Paris and little else even remotely comes close.

Unlike us Americans in Paris today, the Stein family came in 1907 when moving abroad wasn’t so easy or simple -– Gertrude, Leo, Michael and his wife, Sarah. They were a powerful force in a foreign environment, doing just what Americans do – networking…with the intellectuals of their time. At their two apartments (one on rue de Fleurus and the other on rue Madame), they held ‘salons’ known by those who attended as “Saturdays at the Steins” where Parisian artists and foreigners flocked hoping to rub elbows with other artists and intellectuals. (Remember the scenes inWoody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris?”) 

As a result of their friendships with the avant-garde artistic community, they were among the first to collect the works of such artists as Matisse and Picasso as well as whatthey called “The Big Four” — Manet, Renoir, Degas and Cézanne: the Pillars of Modern Art.

The fascinating story is told in the form of a major exhibition at the Grand Palais, on until January 16th, 2012 (recently on exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and scheduled at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from February 1st to June 3rd, 2012): “Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso…The Stein Family.”

Of course, it’s one of those ‘not to be missed exhibits’ – and in light of my personal recent experiences, particularly poignant and meaningful, as I found it to be, once again, an inexplicable synchronicity with my daily life.

The evening before attending the exhibit, I met with Interior Architect Martine di Mattéo to review the décor ideas for the Nice apartment I am purchasing. The signing of the final deed was to take place on Friday, but has been delayed thanks to a legal hurdle to get the proper documents in place. This is disturbing to all of us who were planning on beginning the renovation immediately, placing serious burdens on the scheduling of the project.

Nonetheless, Martine presented three different fabric/color/design ideas, knowing in her own mind fully which would be chosen…the last and most appropriate. The moment she pulled out the fabric, I felt my eyes light up as I uttered without hesitation, “Yes, that’s it!”

It was a print of many colors in a representative “Fauve Landscape” painting by Matisse. She had hit the nail on the head – not just because Matisse is so much a part of Nice history, but because she understood my personal taste for color and design, too.

Henri Émile Benoît Matisse, leader of the Fauve group of artists, was born in a small town in France and moved to Paris in 1891 to study art…and like so many, fulfill his life. As a leader of radicalism in the arts, the Stein family acquired a large number of Matisse paintings, now on display at the exhibition, many of which are from his Fauve Landscape collection. Sarah even persuaded Matisse to open an Academy of Arts in Paris where he taught hundreds of foreign artists.

Imagine my surprise to see the direct correlation between the fabric Martine had chosen and the exhibition…totally unrelated, yet completely synchronistic.

The story goes that from the 1920s to his death in 1954, Matisse spent much of his time in Nice “painting local scenes with a thin, fluid application of bright color.” Today, when one thinks of Nice, it’s hard to not think of Matisse, and vice-versa.

Since 1963, the Matisse Museum (Musée Matisse), situated on the hill of “Cimiez” in Nice, has been welcoming visitors to see its collection of his works left to his heirs and the city of Nice. Aficionados of Matisse call themselves “Matissiens” – already I am one of them…so much so, that the theme of the apartment will mirror his work and I may very well rename the apartment “Le Matisse.”

What do you think? 

A la prochaine… 

Adrian LeedsAdrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Scroll down to learn more about the art exhibit brunch Chez Grace Sunday, October 30th when the work is best seen thanks to the morning light.

P.P.S. Meet up Wednesday night for Google Goddess and SEO Sage Julie Vetter’s “e-Reputation, Online Marketing and the Laws of Attraction” where you can learn more about online marketing and how to make your Internet business more successful by attending this exciting event. For more information and to register visit E-Reputation (E-Reputation

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