Well this is my last blog post from Paris. It's been an incredible 4 months and i've made myself a little souvenir from all my selfie pics. Selfies seem to be getting a bit of a bad rap at this cultural moment for their self indulgence and narcissism but when i watch this sequence of pictures my image seems to disappear from the center and i see the circumstances of the moment return, the taste of a lemon tart i just ate, the smell of fresh laundry or the sound of the metro rumbling a few feet below me. I started taking these photos mockingly, as a sort of satire on the self absorption of tourism, but then i see the image of myself standing at that street corner or in front of the cathedral and i remember that moment vividly and with affirmation, claiming that old graffiti standard, 'i was here'.
There was some good art to see here at the Cite this week, including Nino Baumgartner's scrape prints of Paris monuments (he scrapes the cooper plate on the monument and then prints it) and his black bamboo and electrical tape sculptures.
I also really enjoyed this oil on masonite painting of the Arch de Triomphe by Endre Aalrust, the Urch de Triumph. (http://www.endreaalrust.com/)
Yesterday Rod and i headed over to the Louvre for his first and my last look around. The Napoleon Apartments were looking good in the slanting afternoon sun.
Selfie! Rod actually directed this selfie but i still took the picture.
A salvaged architectural fragment from the Cours du Dragon.
These seagulls were also visiting the Louvre.
More flying things.
Funny how some days you're taking pictures of related things without noticing it. It wasn't until i started working on this post that most of my photographs from the Louvre today were of things with wings.
Cya later Louvre!
Trying to cram a few last things in before we leave Paris. It's hard to believe that after nearly 4 months there are still things to see and do. I started my day at Place des Voges, headed for Victor Hugo's apartment which is now a museum. This is probably the least amount of people i have ever seen in Place des Voges, despite the mild weather.
The 'Oriental' Salon in Hugo's apartment.
Hugo's bust by David D'Angers, the sculptor responsible for many of the monuments in Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
The wintery view from Hugo's apartment.
After lunch with Rod at our favorite secret hangout i headed down to Denfert Rochereau to see the catacombs which i had never been to before but was included on my Cite pass of free museums. As i approached the entryway a young woman came running out sobbing and shaking. She looked like she might faint. Hm maybe this isn't such a great idea.
Catacomb graffiti. Going down the stairs.....
A longish walk thru the tunnels to the ossuary
I'm not sure what kind of impression the catacombs made on me. It was easy to overlook the reality of what you were seeing as became a 'tourist' experience. I think i was paying more attention to the lighting and trying to get a good photograph than the atmosphere, history or meaning of the place. Perhaps that will settle on me in time.
More catacombs graffiti.
As you come up out of the catacombs you find yourself on a street across from the "Comptoirs des Catacombes" which made me laugh. A gift shop. I bought a bone key chain and a button.
I think my brother who is a pirate could have really gone for this doormat but i don't think i have room in my luggage. Sorry Charlie!
This is Rod and I standing exactly at the center of France, Point Zero, from where all distances are measured. From here we went to visit the Crypt Archeologique in front of Notre Dame which was unfortunately very dimly lit and thus picture proof.
After lunch Rod headed off to see St Chapelle and the Conciergerie and i headed up to the Musee Jaquemart Andre. This is the exterior of the museum and if you look closely you'll see the top floor is actually covered in scaffolding and a photographic reproduction of the building.
The interior is a chocolate box of a house museum studded with Rembrandts and Van Eycks.
The Winter Garden.
There was also a show of Victorian art on just in case your sweet tooth wasn't done in by the house collection. Here's a few samples.
My time in Paris is winding down. The days are getting shorter and the nights longer. I've taken a lot of photos, almost three thousand. Here's a selection of pictures of Paris being Paris at night....
Yesterday i made my way down to Bercy to check out the Cinemateque Francaise which is like the film museum. On my way i was passing thru the Gare de Lyon so i thought i would stop and have a look at Le Train Bleu, a famous restaurant and listed heritage site and also the setting of a Mr Bean Movie.
The Belle Epoque glory. No i didn't stop for lunch.
The Cinematheque is in a Frank Gehry designed building in Bercy Park. It's all swoopy angles out front, but i wish now i had taken a picture of the other side to show you the drab failure of the back. A real street killer.
No photography allowed in the museum of course but i snuck this one of an early Lumiere camera. The hand crafted nature of so much of that early equipment was astonishing and a refreshing reminder of the inventiveness of early photographers.
There was a very dreamy Cocteau exhibition on as well and plenty of costumes from French films, but my favorite prop was this- the head of Norman Bates' mother from the film Psycho. Hitchcock donated it to the museum.
After that dark and filmy experience i went for a little walk in the gardens at Bercy where i saw these interesting scarecrows. More thoughts on clothing in public places.
I decided to walk home from Bercy along the river and came across this interesting encampment below the bridge at Austerlitz. It was very neat and well constructed, almost design like in its detailing. Then my day became 'The Day of Homeless People Yelling at Me'' A guy came out from the structure and he was obviously drunk and his face was quite battered. He started cursing me out in French so i apologized and quickly carried on my way.
Near the Basin de L'Arsenal i came across this interesting set up of luggage and stopped to take a picture. As i carried on a man came running after me shouting in French. I stopped and spoke to him and had a conversation in english about what i was doing and what the luggage was. He explained that he and his homeless friends leave their bags there while they wait to be picked up to go somewhere for work. I tried to explain that i wasn't an official or a journalist and only taking pictures because i was interested in the way they set up their depot. I think eventually i got it across that i wasn't out to make trouble for him.
Yesterday was Sunday so once again i went out early in the morning to set up some textile shots. I tried this time to stick to locations where i had seen homeless people, which often includes benches and church doorways. I'm thinking partly of the way people leave flowers at locations where there's been some tragedy, memorializing in that sense.
And of course some places were still occupied.
Down by the river.
A couple of guys were drinking on this bench one afternoon when i came by looking for a spot to sit and eat a sandwich.
There's an older woman who i often see in this church doorway.
Sometimes huddled in with found materials like wooden skids for protection.
Rod was feeling well enough to be coaxed out for a bit of exploring today. And it was a beautiful clear cool day, so after a little lunch at our local cafe we crossed the river over to the left bank and headed for the Institute du Monde Arab.
Still a few stubborn leaves clinging to the trees.
The sun was casting some interesting shadows....
Still sniffly but enjoying the view.
This is not a selfie, Rod took this one!
One of the pleasures of any large urban center is that when you leave your front door you don't know what random things you're going to see. So here's to the streets.
The homeless people are very inventive with their mobile encampments.
Hey, wait a minute, didn't i see this at the Venice Biennale? oh yes.
And the city itself is a thrilling backdrop to so many events, big and small. This poor bride was shivering bravely behind Notre Dame. And look at that train!
My new career as a wedding photographer!
A Christmas tree oddly placed at the side of the road.
A monk hurries past with his long shadow.
A pile of discarded clothing loiters on a bench.
And that's what i seen on the street today.
Between Open Studio gigs i had time to take in the new Surrealist exhibition at the Pompidou, which was quite good. At the entrance was this sign. You've been warned!
I think this is the first time i've seen an exhibition that so successfully married the use of audio visual information with atmospheric content. There was lots of projected documentation from the original Surrealist exhibitions and a soundtrack of a woman breathing that created an atmosphere of dreamy disquiet.
The lady who came into the exhibition directly behind me thought it would be fun to give this Marcel Duchamp a twirl. And so she did. The security people pounced but not fast enough.
There was also some contemporary work, including this piece by Mona Hatoum to give the Surrealists' work some context as forerunners of current art practice.
In the section on dolls and mannequins this piece by Hans Bellmer from 1936
Giacometti's 'Disagreeable Object to Throw Away' from 1931
Dali before he sold out.
And I'm sure you all recognize this Man Ray
Marcel Marien's 'L'Introuvable' from 1937 which i had never seen before.
And check out this beautiful piece by Mimi Parent, "Masculin/Feminin" from 1959