Jules Dalou

Jules Dalou (1838-1902) was a sculptor, with a remarkable production of which a number can still be found around Paris. Before giving some examples, maybe a few words about him.

He was born in Paris into a working-class family. He remained some kind of Republican socialist all his life, which e.g. forced him to take refuge in England 1871 - 1879. After all, he finally got full recognition, was chosen for some important works, was awarded the Grand Prix of the Exposition Universelle in 1889, was made commander of the Legion of Honour…

His most well-known monument is probably “The Triumph of the Republic”, which was installed on Place de la Nation (see previous post) in 1899. We can see the symbol of the Republic (Marianne?) standing on the top of the chariot of the Nation, drawn by lions, “guided by the Sprit of Freedom, surrounded by the symbols for labour (a blacksmith) and justice… and then the abundance is distributed”. (Not easy to reach this "perfection" when it comes to reality!)

(Nothing to do here, perhaps, but when I took the photos, I was charmed by this little group and the young photographer.)

In the Luxembourg Gardens (see previous posts) you can find (at least?) three of his works, including ‘The"Triumph of Silenius” (1885) and a more simple one, erected after Dalou’s death (in 1908), in memory of Auguste Scheurer-Kestner, industrial and politician (and active Drefuys-defender)…

… and this tribute to the painter Eugène Delacroix (1890). This reminds me about some paintings by Delacroix in the Saint Sulpice church (see previous post), which are in heavy need of restoration, obviously planned, but…

Along Avenue Foch (see previous post) there is since 1899 a tribute to Jean-Charles Alphand (1817-91), the creator of the Bois de Boulogne (see previous posts), Bois de Vincennes (see previous posts), Parc Monceau (see previous posts), Parc Montsouris (see previous post), , the Buttes de Chaumont (see previous post), the Champs-Elysées Gardens (see previous post), the Trocadéro Gardens (see previous post), the Temple Square (see previous post), “my” park, Square des Batignolles (see previous posts) and a lot more. Alphand is surrounded by some of his collaborators and in the right lower corner of this collage, we can see Dalou as seen by himself.

A different kind of monument can be found in a little park close to Porte Maillot, erected in 1907. It represents Emile Levassor (1843-97) winning the (the first ever?) automobile race, Paris-Bordeaux-Paris in 1895. (The monument was sketched by Dalou, but executed by Camille Lefèvre.)  Levassor was part of the Panhard-Levassor car manufacturer.

There are several epitaphs by Dalou in the Paris cemeteries, but the best known is perhaps this one of Victor Noir at the Père Lachaise cemetery (see previous post)   . (Victor Noir was an ordinary journalist, who is more known for his grave than for anything else: He was killed by a cousin to the Emperor Napoleon III. The sculpture of him gives the impression that he is sexually exited and it has become a fertility symbol…)

Here are some examples of Dalou works which can be found elsewhere, in museums...


Street art, graffiti ... again

A building, which soon will be demolished on the Seine quays (close to the new National Library) has been invaded, outside and inside by street artists. This has been done in an authorized and organized way and the place can be visited during the month of October. The project is referred to as “La Tour du 13e”.  More than hundred artists from 16 different nations participate. I’m a bit of a fan of (good) street art and was of course tempted.

I tried to go there twice (so far). Seeing the long waiting lines the first time, I decided to go back another day. I was there one hour before opening hour and the waiting lines did already make the tour of the building. There was a written message that after a specific point there was no chance to get in during the day. Here you can see the lines beyond this point. Consequently I decided not to insist.

On the net I could find a few examples of what I missed to see from the interior.

This building is thus in the 13th arrondissement. This is not, architecturally, the most attractive arrondissement in Paris… a lot of dull buildings from the 60’s and the 70’s, but it’s improving.

… but, this is an area where street artist have been encouraged, sponsored, to decorate, officially and in large format, some buildings. To console myself from the disappointment of not being able to enter the “Tour 13”, I made a little walk around the arrondissement. Here are a few examples of what I found. (I added the name of the artist, when I found it.) There are many more … which I have to find. 

“Obey” (Shephard Fairy) got especially known for the 2008 “Hope-Barack Obama” campaign poster. “C215” (Christian Guémy) made a cat here, but is better known for portraits of people.

Locally, the most well-known may be “jana & js”, which you find a lot of around Paris, but they definitely work successfully internationally.

The works of the Chilean “Inti” can also be found worldwide.

I was impressed by “Vhils” (Alexander Farto). He has a special technique of chipping and sawing away pieces on walls to basically make portraits.

“M-City” has made a large number of monumental works all over the world. See also the top picture.

Here is a map of what I found and where. 


Boris Vian

I had the pleasure together with some Montmartre friends to visit the flat which once was occupied by Boris Vian. For some foreign visitors to this blog, it may be necessary to give some information on Boris Vian (1920-59).

Vian graduated as an engineer in metallurgy and had some “serious” jobs, but his artistic gifts soon took over, first especially as jazz musician, but he was also a poet, novel writer, singer, translator, critic, actor…

He was an excellent musician, but his involvement in music also meant that he served as liaison for e.g. Duke Ellington and Miles Davies in Paris, that he produced recordings by them and other jazz musicians, like Louis Armstrong.

As a writer he had some success when writing under the name of Vernon Sullivan, but his more serious writings under his own name were less successful… until after his death. His literary work is now celebrated, studied in schools. His complete works have been published in the exclusive collection of “La Pléiade”, an honour given to a limited number of authors. A few of his novels have been filmed.

Vian also wrote and composed a song, “Le Déserteur”, an anti-war song which was written in 1954, during the (lost) French Indochina war. It was forbidden to be sold or broadcast until 1962. It was translated into many languages and later became a major anti-war song, performed by e.g. Joan Baez and Peter Paul and Mary during the Vietnam war years. Here you can listen to the first performer, Marcel Mouloudji. You can also listen to Boris Vian himself here: http://youtu.be/gjndTXyk3mw.

Vian was, or became, some kind of legend in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés intellectual and artistic post-WWII circles with friends like J-P Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Juliette Gréco…

There is a lot more to say about him, but I suggest then that you go e.g. here.

Boris Vian suffered from bad health his whole life and died from a heart attack in 1959, at the age of 39.

Boris and his second wife moved in here in 1953, a rather modest flat, but with access to an enormous terrace overlooking Moulin Rouge, from the backside. You enter by a small and narrow passage called “Cité Véron”. A year later another leading personality in French cultural life, Jacques Prévert (1900-77), poet and screenwriter for a number of successful and famous films, moved into a larger flat, with access to the same terrace. They spent some years as good neighbours and one can imagine the parties that took place in the apartments and on the terrace.

Boris Vian’s flat (like Jacques Prévert’s – not visited) have remained fairly as they were. No photos allowed from the inside. I visited the place in the evening and there were no lights on the terrace, so I’m sorry for the bad quality of the photos. (Jacques Prévert's flat to the right on the middle photo below... and to the left you may see some "men in white" by street artist Jérome Mesnager.) 

To complete this post, here are some photos of Boris Vian with friends ... and some of Jacques Prévert. 

I suggest also that you watch some more videos. Here is one where we can see Jacques Prévert walking in the “Cité Véron” and listen to him reading a poem about Boris Vian. 

Here are links to Joan Baez and to Peter Paul and Mary singing “Le Déserteur”. 


Worth waiting...

Certain artists, expositions, attract more public than others. The “Frida Kahlo / Diego Riviera”-one that opened October 9 at the “Orangerie” in the Tuileries Gardens is definitely one of those. I had bought a “coupe-file” (fast pass) ticket in advance … and had to wait “only” about one hour.

I guess there is no need to write anything about Frida and Diego here; their story and their art are sufficiently known, maybe partly thanks to the movie, “Frida” from 2002 with Salma Hayek.

I can only say that it’s worth waiting to get in. There is a very large collection of paintings, including some of the most famous ones.

Of course, it was not allowed to take photos inside. On the net I found some of the paintings that were exposed, more easily for Frida…

… then for Diego. There were a number of Diego’s paintings to be seen, but I didn’t manage to find many on the net. There were also a few real-size reproductions of his mural works.

Once you are inside the “Orangerie”, you have of course also the opportunity to see a large collection of paintings by Rousseau, Renoir, Cézanne, Utrillo, Soutine, Picasso… and a large exposure of water lilies by Monet.

Lacking photos from the inside, here are a few taken from the outside (including some Rodin sculptures). ..

… and a few from the Tuilieries Gardens in a beginning of autumn colours. 

Leaving the Tuileries, I saw a possibility (but was not tempted) to rent a Ferrari or a Lamborghini – 89€ for a 20 minutes’ drive.


Banque de France

Not easy to get in here… the headquarters of the Banque de France (The Central Bank of France), another institution created by Napoleon - in 1800.

The basic task of the bank is to implement the monetary policy within the framework of the European Central Bank (ESCB), but it has of course also other roles like the issuance and maintenance of banknotes and coins… (Somewhere underground there may be a few thousand tons of gold.)

The central office occupies what 1635-40 was built as a town house (“hotel particulier”) for a French statesman, seigneur de la Vrillière. Later it was occupied by one of Louis XIV’s (illegitimate) sons, Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon and then by the latter’s son, the Duc de Penthièvre. It was confiscated during the revolutionary years and became for a while Imrimerie Nationale (National official printing works). It became the central office for Banque de France in 1808. Printing presses and storage space had of course led to a lot of destruction of the original buildings. Some of the rooms were restored during the 19th century.

Here we can see what it once looked like, where we find it…We can also see the portrait of the architect, François Mansart. 

Originally there was a large garden, not much remains as it has been replaced by new buildings.

Some views from the inner courts.

The original entrance and stairs have disappeared and have been replaced.

As said, only a few rooms have kept – or have got back - their original aspect.

Here are some pictures from an entrance hall and from the room where the Governor of the bank organizes his meetings, which used to be part of the private apartments.

The real treasure of the building is the “Galérie Dorée” (Golden Gallery), which looks more or less like when it stood ready in 1645. Especially the ceiling was restored during the 19th century.

It’s interesting to learn that “Galérie Dorée”, which was created by François Mansart in 1645, a few decades later, in 1678, served as model for the “Galérie des Glaces” (Hall of Mirrors) at Versailles , designed by François Mansart’s nephew, Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The basic idea was to take good care of the natural light by placing mirrors (actually mirror doors) in front of the windows.

There were obviously good reasons for Sofia Coppola to film some of the “Marie-Antoinette” scenes in the “Galérie Dorée”.