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Picasso Under Crystal

The rich French were there in their furs and jewelry and high-heeled boots. The attendants were all young and tall and thin and dressed in black suits or dresses. The line to enter suddenly got long about 4 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. They wouldn’t allow any photos (although I managed to sneak in one) and they were collecting 7 Euros a person to enter Baccarat’s new Gallery-Museum at 11 place des Etats Unis in the 16th. That is, of course, AFTER you’ve had a chance to peruse the galleries of contemporary crystal creations on the first level, each item sporting a big price tag.

The new facility is a far cry from the old one at 30 rue de Paradis in the 10th. The rich hated going there…to that less elegant part of the city. The times I went, they weren’t there…only curious tourists such as myself who were game to go anywhere in Paris. No wonder Baccarat found more suitable surroundings!

The building itself is beautiful with parquet flooring stained white and detailed moldings, some gilded. The decor is like a plush theater — every wall draped in rich gray velvet from floor to ceiling. Tiny lights dot the edges of the carpeting to guide you from room to room. Almost every appointment is made of crystal and elaborate chandeliers are imposed at every possible location. No doubt, the displays are esthetically magnificent and tasteful as only the French know how to do.

It’s worth a visit, but I couldn’t help but think how Baccarat is laughing all the way to the bank, to see all us fools lining up to pay them to show and sell us their wares. How clever to realize that value is created more in the perception than in the reality, especially for those who believe it must be expensive to have value.

On rue de Paradis, something much more interesting has taken place than the sale of fine crystal…the new “Pinacothèque de Paris” has opened in Baccarat’s old home — a space of more than 40,000 square feet on two levels.

Headed by art historian Marc Restellini

, the project is “an entirely private initiative to create an international network of museums with a generalist vocation and aiming to conceive, organize and rotate major exhibitions for a broad public.” The first exhibition pays homage on the thirtieth anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death. It reveals for the first time in France 89 works from the private collection of Jacqueline Picasso, his second and last wife.

The works are colorful, playful, filled with humor and love for Jacqueline, so Picasso-esque. I felt that I understood why he had so many lovers in his life — as he clearly expressed his own for her through his art and he exposed a sense of humor that must have been addicting.

They’ve already done some clever things with the enormous and vacuous space, including a very presentable Salon de Thé in the large room that once housed long tables set with crystal. But, when this exhibition ends at the end of March (28th), it will close temporarily for renovation and reopen in the Fall.

Strangely, and obviously with no sense of marketing, the gift shop, that has a nice selection of Picasso memorabilia, such as postcards and posters, pens and mugs, is all under glass and untouchable, much like Baccarat’s crystal.

A la prochaine année…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]


Baccarat Gallery-Museum
11, place des Etats Unis, 75116 Paris
Entry 7 Euros
Open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Email: [email protected]

Pinacothèque de Paris
30 bis, rue de Paradis, 75010 Paris
Entry 12 Euros
Open every day including public holidays. Tuesday – Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.


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