The only stop sign in Paris is gone...

If you wish to drive in Paris, remember that only one rule is applied when it comes to priority – priority from the right. There are of course some red lights here and there, but not on e.g. Place Charles de Gaulle (l’Etoile). No “normal” round-about priority here, only priority from the right.

There should normally be one single stop sign in Paris, far away from the centre - on the Seine banks - an exit from a place where construction material is stored and handled, Quai Saint-Exupéry. When I went there a couple of days ago, the stop sign was gone – by purpose, stolen…? (On the Google Earth picture, the stop sigh can still be seen.)


A vernissage.

I’m a member of an association with the aim to give support to Swedish artists living in France (see here). We organise exhibitions, we purchase some works which then can be “won” by the members… and a lot more. 

Last week there was the vernissage of an exhibition of a well-established artist, Bengt Olson, now well over 80, who moved to France some 60 years ago. He has created a number of monumental works in France  - and in Sweden and is represented in some major museums with paintings and graphics.

The exhibition we organised in the premises of the “Swedish Club” in Paris (see previous post) was about illustrations Bengt Olson made for a recent, new edition of the “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils” by Selma Lagerlöf, originally published in 1906-07. 

Selma Lagerlöf was the first female writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature - in 1909.

There was a nice attendance including the Swedish ambassador, Mrs. Veronika Wand-Danielsson (see top picture).    


Thomas Jefferson

It’s good to have friends. Blogging has given me many. One of them is of course Virginia from Birmingham, Alabama. She has also been kind enough to recommend a number of her friends, even non-bloggers, to meet me when they visit Paris. One of them is Jeanne, who is teaching French in Birmingham and speaks – and writes - better French and knows more about French history, geography, culture…  than most Frenchmen. Since we met last year, she often gives me ideas and comments about my blogging. She realized that I was tired by my long-lasting flu and I actually told her that I had nothing in reserve and no force to go out preparing for new posts.

So, Jeanne came up with an idea. The other day, she referred to a post I made in 2012 (see here) about a building, neighbour to the Orsay Museum, which originally was built for a Prince Salm-Kyrburg, referred to as the Hôtel de Salm, and later transformed into the Palace of the Legion of Honour.

Jeanne pointed out that I could have mentioned that this building obviously had been some kind of model for Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home, a reason why you can find his statue more or less in front of the building and looking toward it. Well, I actually knew about it, but when I made my post in 2012 it was rather about an exhibition of Napoleon’s “Berlin” and I thought then that it was a bit “too much” to tell that story as well. 
So Jeanne suggested that it was now time to talk about Thomas Jefferson and she had the photos of his statue, which I could use, so I didn’t have to go out in the cold with my flu. Well, actually, I had some photos, so the one you see on the top was taken in July 2012, heavily zoomed as you may notice - the Sacré Coeur seems to be quite close.

Here are the photos I took of Hôtel de Salm in 2012…

… and here you can see Jeanne’s photo of the statue. I have enlarged the drawing Jefferson is holding, where you can imagine some kind of draft for the Monticello building, his home in Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson spent the years 1784-1789 in Paris, succeeding Benjamin Franklin as “Minister to France”. The Hôtel de Salm was finished in 1787. Jefferson left Paris just a few weeks after the beginning of the French Revolution of which he was a supporter – except for its more violent aspects.

His statue, which has been there only since 2006, is made by a French sculptor, Jean Cardot, who also made e.g. the statues of Charles de Gaulle, close to the “Grand Palais”, and of Winston Churchill, close to the “Petit Palais”.


Where Picasso painted "Guernica"

Picasso came to Paris for the first time in 1900, at the age of 19. Until 1955 Paris was always somehow his base, although he always moved around a lot, in the beginning back and forth to Spain, later with parallel homes and workshops in the countryside. The last part of his life he lived mainly in the south of France. He died at the age of 91 in 1973.

He changed addresses quite often in Paris, in the beginning because of lack of money, later often according to change of life partner… I have blogged about his most famous Montmartre address (see here), the Bateau Lavoir, where he passed the blue, the rose, the African-influenced, the cubism periods…and also about two addresses in the Montparnasse areas (see here)… and of course about the newly reopened Picasso Museum (see here).

This is about a third address, rue des Grands Augustins. He stayed here for quite a while, 1937-55, including during the WWII years – not making any exhibitions during the Nazi occupation years. I don’t know if it was the actor Jean-Louis Barrault, who had occupied the place with an experimental theatre, or the photographer Dora Maar, who finally indicated the address to Picasso, but he was obviously very happy about the place. Dora Maar became a partner. 

This is where one of Picasso’s most famous paintings was executed. In the beginning of 1937, Picasso had been commissioned by the Spanish Republican government to make a wall painting for the Spanish pavilion at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. When he learned about the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian warplanes, he changed his initial plans and started in the beginning of May to make his painting. Dora Maar took photos… Finally he was ready, but a bit too late for the opening of the exhibition.

We must remember that Spain was in a civil war in 1937. It took a lot of violence before Franco managed to take power in 1939. We can see the modest Spanish Republican (against Franco) pavilion, more or less neighbour to the imposing German pavilion during the Fair. The pavilion also showed works by Juan Miro and by Alexander Calder – the Mercury Fountain.

The Guernica painting travelled a lot after the World’s Fair exhibition and later, on Picasso’s request, ended up at MoMA in NYC. Picasso clearly didn’t want his painting to go to Spain before “the restoration of public liberties and democratic institutions”. Finally the painting came to Spain in 1981, eight years after Picasso’s death and six years after Franco’s death. It’s now exposed at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.

It seems that there is a dispute ongoing about the future of this historic building, rue des Grands Augustins – yes, there is a lot more to be said about it. The present owners want to transform it into some kind of luxury hotel… Nothing seems to be decided.          


Continued rest

Since a week or so, suffering from a flu (despite being vaccinated), now basically over, I have somehow not felt the force to work with my blog. However, my sense of duty – posting twice weekly – pushes me to do something. Once more, my walks didn’t bring me further than to “my” park. I sat down on a bench and admired the birds, especially the ones, completely relaxed, sleeping on one leg.