Lights and crowds

Another year and, once more, I guess I just have to – of course with pleasure - show the Christmas illuminations of the Champs-Elysées. The official inauguration had to be cancelled for security reasons, but now the lights are there… and what also is important, the crowds!

So here are some photos looking down…

… and up the avenue.

The Ferris wheel is not the only one showing the blue, white and red colours. Here are some examples: The US Embassy, the Grand Palais, “Fouquet’s”, the “Publicis”…

Other buildings are also colourful.

The lower part of the Champs-Elysées is again occupied by an ever increasing Christmas Market.

What I believe is new for this year is to find Father Christmas flying in the air, talking with the crowd, especially the children, down on the ground.

A little Swedish touch: In connection with the “COP21” (Conference of Parties), the Climate Change Conference, which is just starting, IKEA is (in cooperation with the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and the City of Paris) preparing some ecological features – a wind turbine, solar panels… and also a large number of installations where people can pedal, run and swing, all with the intention of generating 100% renewable energy to light up the Champs-Elysées. 

Yesterday, I checked if the installations were in use. With 147 heads of states expected for the conference, I had a feeling that there were more police forces than “energy producers” around. The crowds I mentioned above, seen Friday evening, will probably be seriously reduced the coming days. 


Dancing in the rain...

I went to Parc Monceau (see previous post) the other day. It was raining. At a distance I saw what looked like a dancing couple. It actually was, but they were not moving…

This is a statue by the American artist Seward Johnson, known for his life-size bronze statues, possibly a bit “kitch”, but interesting. Three of his statues are temporarily exhibited in the main path in Parc Monceau, all three related to French painters.

The dancing couple is a 3D version of Renoir’s “Dance at Bougival” from 1883. It’s a pleasure to get a closer look of Suzanne Valadon. (I wrote often about here, see e.g. here.)

There are two other statues to be seen.

This one is referring to another Renoir painting, “Two sisters” from 1881…

… and this one to Manet’s “In the conservatory” from 1879.

Seward Johnson is exhibited in a large number of museums, but some of his – sometimes giant – statues can also be found outdoors.    


Blue, white, red.

Despite living for more than 40 years in Paris, I’m not officially French, but I feel more French than ever!

To my regret I feel that l must revert to – see also my preceding post - the tragic November 13 events. (I already posted parts of this on Facebook.)

Friday evening, November 20, one week after the attacks, I went back to Place de la République…

… and to “Bataclan”. It was a bit of comfort to listen to music, hear people sing the “Marseillaise”.

It was a further bit of comfort to see that, despite suddenly cooler and wetter weather, the café terraces were not empty.

Last Wednesday I went to the “Galerie de l’Evolution”. The Eiffel Tower is not the only monument in blue, white and red. The sad thing is that on a Wednesday afternoon, this museum should be full of visitors, kids… and it was almost empty. 

Later the same day I went to the “Louis Vuitton Foundation”, designed by Frank Gehry. I took some photos from the top - La Défense, the Bois de Boulogne. I left, walking through the “Jardin d’Acclimatation” which, this sunny and exceptionally warm afternoon should be full of kids, but… 


Flowers in the bullet holes...

Place de la République is again, like after the Charlie Hebdo attack in January, a place where people gather to express their feelings, this time after the November 13 killings. These photos were taken some four days after the event. Some flowers were already withering, most of the candle lights had had stopped burning, but many messages were still to be read, seen… News media and police forces were present.

The Bataclan saw the most victims, 89 dead and many seriously injured. You can still read “Eagles” as “tonight’s performers” on the facade as well as a banner added later telling that liberty is indestructible.

More or less simultaneously a number of bars and restaurants were attacked – “La Casa Nostra” and “Café Bonne Bière”. 5 victims….

… “Le Carillon” and “Le Petit Cambodge”. 15 victims….

… and “La Belle Equipe”. 19 victims.

In total, for the moment, some 128 dead (+ 7 terrorists) and hundreds injured, including some 40 seriously.  More than 200 still in hospital - five days later.


Nicely decorated

This nicely decorated building is from 1858 and served as from 1861 as workshop for François Gillet, who obviously was the first to, in an industrial way, manufacture enamel paintings on lava. The workshop remained here until WWI. We are on rue Fénelon, close to the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church.

The facade is covered by illustrations, all in enamel on Volvic lava. Some of them tell you the history of ceramic painting as from ancient times until the end of the 19th century. The last “detail” shows François Gillet together with the painter and lithographer Pierre-Jules Jolivet (1794-1871), who was an artist much involved in this type of decoration. When reaching a more industrial level, thanks to François Gillet, this became a popular and different way to create colourful outdoor weather-resisting decorations, replacing mosaics, tiles…

There are some specific illustrations of  Luca della Robbia (Florence, 1399-1482), known for his glazed terracotta works, Bernard Palissy (1510-90), known for having found out how to imitate Chinese porcelain and Ferdinand Morteleque (1774-1844), who managed the first enamel painting on lava (“lave de Volvic”) in 1824. (He is the one sitting in front of Gillet and Jolivet on the above "detail".) 

It’s interesting to see how different personalities from this period “met”. François Gillet took over the company from “Veuve Hachette”, in which Jacques Ignaz Hittorff (1792-1867) had been employed. Hittorff is known as the architect of a large number of buildings and places in Paris. He redesigned Place de la Concorde (see previous posts). Many of the buildings he created have disappeared, but we can still admire e.g. the “Cirque d’Hiver” (see previous post), “Gare du Nord” (see previous post) … and the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church (see previous post)… (I talked about all this in a post about Hittorff's tomb at the Montmartre cemetery (see previous post)).  

Hittorff was very much in favour of decorated, colourful, buildings. He had discovered that ancient buildings and churches often had their facades painted. When he was in charge of finishing the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church he imagined thus the front to be decorated and he gave the job to Pierre-Jules Jolivet, for the canvasses, and to François Gillet for the execution. So, a number of illustrations in enamel were placed there in 1861. However, there were a lot of protests against these colourful illustrations – also because of some nakedness, so they were quickly taken down. They were brought back as late as 2011 and can now be seen again. 
Here we can see part of the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church decorations and also the richly decorated facade of the home of Pierre-Jules Jolivet (see previous post).

This has nothing to do with the above, except the colourful facade of a building which unfortunately is too present in the last days’ news: Bataclan,. a construction from 1864, originally a café-billiard, then music-hall (Buffalo-Bill…), cinema… and now a multi-purpose concert hall (Prince, Stromae, Robbie Williams, Oasis…). The facade in a pagoda style was quite recently repainted - in 1984. I wrote about it on my blog here.


Street poles

Many streets in Paris, especially the narrower ones, are equipped with poles. This is a way to protect pedestrians and to avoid wild car parking. More and more of them are painted in a colourful way. A street artist, known as CyKlop, is especially known for this. When you see an eye on top of each pole he has painted, the relation to the ancient mythological cyclops is evident.  

Here we can see CyKlop in operation.

CyKlop has rather recently painted a number of poles in a small Montmartre street, Rue Piémontési. It’s a tribute to artists who have lived and worked in the area.

Each pole refers to a specific painting. Here are a few. Maybe you can find some others?

Addendum: My friend Jeanne (Birmingham Alabama) found this one. Bravo and thanks!

I would like to make some special comments with regard to the Modigliani one: A painting of the same series from 1917 was a couple of days ago sold to a Chinese taxi driver turned billionaire for $170m, the second highest price ever paid for a painting. It seems that he has the intention to exhibit the painting in one of his (two !!) museums in Shanghai.  At least it will be possible to see it. However, the highest rated pieces of art are today often just bought as capitalistic investments, kept hidden, in a vault in a bonded warehouse in Geneva, Dubai, Shanghai… awaiting sale for a higher value, tax-free. Also, a number of new museums are created and they all need a “Joconde” to attract the public. All this creates incredible prices for some pieces when artworks by other, living or dead, artists have difficulties to be sold at decent prices.

This may again remind us that Modiglaini had one single exhibition in his lifetime, in 1917. It was organised by the remarkable gallerist Berthe Weill. (I wrote about her here.) It seems that it lasted only for a few hours - police intervened because of the nudity - and obviously nothing was sold. The $170m painting, from 1917, was probably part of the exhibition. A year later Modigliani tried to sell all he had for $100, but found no buyer. He died in 1920, at the age of 35.