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Willy in Love with Paris

The press has passionately reported the Willy Ronis retrospective at the Hôtel de Ville and the queues have been ceaselessly long with good cause. With only 45 minutes to spare between lunch and a business appointment, I snuck into the exhibit for a preview — thinking a return would be in order when I had more time to devote to it.

Good thinking…because you’ll need it — every image sucks you in, takes you to that particular place in time, sets you on a theater stage we call the “City of Light” and like a voyeur, you observe, learn and are moved by the experience.

There are numerous articles to be read about Ronis and his striking black and white images of Paris — Ronis, at the age of 95, is a first generation Jewish Parisian, who had a talent for music and art and a new camera at the age of 15 (a Kodak 6.5×11). Photos taken prior to World War II express the turmoil of pre-war Paris. When Germany occupied France, he escaped to Vichy-ruled France to avoid deportation, hiding out in “La France Profonde.” Later images took on more ordinary scenes and romantic themes.

Once again, it’s the word “passion” that strikes me. You will feel the sensation of passion the moment you enter the exhibit, not only from the images of Ronis’ Paris, but from the audience that has queued to absorb them.

You have heard me espouse the notion of passion in past missives…why Paris is the most romantic city in the world has not to do with its beautiful monuments or soft lighting. It took years of contemplating this question, finally stumbling across the answer in that one word — passion.

Passion is everywhere. The French are the most passionate people in the world. They are passionate about their language, their culture, their history, their wine, their cheese, their literature, their everything. They are famous for being the finest lovers in the world.
When the French make a product they are passionate about, it’s usually the best in the world. Honoré de Balzac said “Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless.”

There is no end to the proof I can muster up to support these statements. You all know what I say is true. Paris is the most romantic city in the world and the French are the most passionate people in the world. It is obvious Willy Ronis is a man in love with Paris. He says himself, “Paris a été mon sujet préferé” (Paris is my preferred subject). There is passion in every snap of his camera. “Celui d’un amoureux de sa ville.”

I can relate.

Editor’s Note: Willy Ronis à Paris, Hôtel de Ville until February 18th, 2006, 29 rue de Rivoli, 4th, open everyday except Sunday and holidays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Entrance free.

A la prochaine…




Adrian Leeds

Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. More great photography can be seen at the annual Paris Photo Fair (9th edition), November 17 to 20 at the Carrousel du Louvre — 106 French and international galleries and publishing houses will introduce you to a selection of photographs from the 19th century to the present day through a range of exhibitions. Carrousel du Louvre,
Métro: Palais Royal Musée du Louvre,, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on November 18th. Visit the Community Calendar for more information.

P.P.S. Not an issue will be missed, but next week I’m heading to both Knoxville and New Orleans (5 whirlwind days) to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family and to see m

y home town under reconstruction. I’ll have plenty to report the following week! Meanwhile, for those of you having Turkey-Day in France, if you’d rather not cook at home, Restaurant Joe Allen is offering a Thanksgiving Dinner for Democrats Abroad and anyone else wanting to participate. Visit the Community Calendar for more information


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