Monumental Works in the City of Light
Memorial Day 1987 my family made the big move cross-country from the hills of Tennessee to the beaches of California. It was a monumental move at the time, but little did we know that seven years later, we’d be making another even more monumental move cross-ocean to France. Moving cross-ocean meant shipping our belongings in containers, something I hadn’t thought much about until yesterday when visiting the “Monumenta 2016” exhibit of “Empires” at the Grand Palais by the Franco-Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping.
When you first enter the magnificent Beaux-Arts designed exhibition hall made of iron and glass, which was once part of the Universal Exposition of 1900, you are faced with a wall of such containers that at first ‘don’t pass the so-what test,’ but don’t stop there. The shipping containers are not exactly ‘sights for sore eyes,’ but as I later learned, the system of “intermodal freight transport” which was developed after World War II, dramatically changed our globalized lives by reducing transportation costs, shipping time and loss from damage and theft. It also replaced the human element and displaced thousands of dock workers. Such is often the case in the name of ‘progress.’
As you stroll through the massive installation, a new sense of appreciation takes over. Ping’s landscape of eight mounds of freight containers are interjected by an unfurling metal snake skeleton suspended from a crane along with Napoleon’s bicorne hat set high on an arch of containers. It is designed to evoke this globalization “as a circulation of wealth” and the endless power struggle among the industrialists, politicians, tyrants and military who long to ‘wear the hat’ and control the world.
Open till June 18th, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, don’t miss it if you can help it! For more information, visit the Grand Palais’ site.
Last week, my daughter, Erica Simone, sent photos of our own apartment building in the West Village in New York that had been postered by the famous street artist JR. She introduced me to him at one of her own art openings, as through the world of photography and art, she has had the good fortune of getting to know him. The postering of his images on the abandoned “Olivers” on the street level at W. 4th and Barrow was completely random — she had no idea he had planned to put his mark on it.
JR was originally a Parisian street artist who describes himself as a “photograffeur” who believes that the street is “the largest art gallery in the world.” His monumental works have taken street art to an all new heightened level and fortunately for us, Paris and New York are two of his most important ‘canvases.’
Not far from the Grand Palais, his most recent project was completed just last week on the Pyramide du Louvre — having wrapped one side of the metal and glass pyramid designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei which serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum, in a photographic piece that creates the illusion of it completely vanishing.
“JR has chosen the biggest gallery in the world to showcase his art: public spaces. For some ten years now, the artist’s monumental photographic collages have been popping up on the walls of cities in all four corners of the globe. ‘The most important thing,’ he explains, ‘is where I put my photos and the meaning they take on depending on the place.'”
Again, this is not to be missed. If you stand at a particular spot, you can perfectly align the facade with the facade of the Le Louvre so that it fully disappears. Everyone is vying for that spot, of course, so don’t be surprised if you’re rubbing elbows with Parisians and tourists alike to get that perfect photograph. It will be up until June 27, 2016.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group
(with The Fabulous Lulu Lolo, Adrian Leeds, Laurie Evans and Pat Le Blanc)
P.S. These monumental works and a host of others are good reason to come to Paris. To those of you who aren’t visiting the City of Light for fear of traveling during these turbulent times, think again. You are safer here at any hour of the day or night than in just about any U.S. city. Visit Adrian Leeds Group Apartments to book your luxury vacation rentals.
P.P.S. This Friday, June 3rd, Linda Hervieux will be speaking and taking your questions about her acclaimed book FORGOTTEN: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes during a Webinar online with the National World War II Museum. Register to watch it FREE anytime — or catch it live at 12 p.m. CDT (1 p.m. EDT, 7 p.m. Paris).
Don’t Miss the Next Après-Midi!
With author Kathy Borrus, Tuesday June 14. Kathy will talk about her book, Five Hundred Buildings of Paris and show slides of Parisian buildings with anecdotes on each, including many unknown to Paris insiders. Come and tell some of your own stories! Details on our Après Midi page.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
…and the second Tuesday of every month 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Upstairs at Café de la Mairie , on the corner of rue des Archives and rue de Bretagne, 3rd. Métro Lines 9, 3 et 11, stations Temple, République or Arts et Métiers Costs nothing except whatever you drink!
For more information, visit Après-Midi