Monday, September 8, 2008

New Art in an Old City

Some people think art in Paris begins and ends with the Mona Lisa and the Louvre. You don't, or you wouldn't be reading this, so here's a plug for contemporary art in Paris. There seems to be more and more of it, and some very interesting stuff. I was at a 'vernissage' Friday night at Dorothy's Gallery, a very nice space in the 11th arrondisement owned by an American with adventurous good taste in contemporary art. In this group show featuring a wide range of styles and subject matter, I was especially taken with the work of Valentine Fournier, who makes chatty little dioramas with playfully arranged photos and miscellaneous objects, and with the narrative photos of Maia Rogers, which hint at strange stories through oddly juxtaposed figures and objects, obliquely reminiscent of Cindy Sherman's work. A 'vernissage' by the way, is an opening, but the word means 'varnishing' and originates from the grand official salons of the 19th century. The vernissage was the day when artists raced in to put the final touches - the varnish - on their accepted paintings, just before the doors were opened to the public. An artist friend in Paris has the same complains as artists everywhere, including expensive, hard to find studios, difficulty finding places to show, etc., but France does offer support for its living artists in a number of ways. There are city-owned spaces that artists can apply for to show their work, and there are also public displays of work on a regular basis. Each summer the Luxembourg Gardens hosts a scattering of sculptural works grouped by a rather lofty theme, usually to do with spirituality or human potential. This year featured a gigantic Buddha-like head in bright gold, but there was also a wonderful ring of Giacometti-like figures in bronze, whose attenuated bodies topped with graceful, spooky heads spelled out the word 'Tolerance.'


Unknown said...

Great posting. The opening at the gallery on Friday night made me want to be there. I imagine there are tons of galleries like this in Paris. Keep these blogs coming. For five or ten minutes, I am transported to Paris.

Hank Lazer said...

lovely mixture of ease, informality, intelligence, and info in your blog, marilyn. most enjoyable - and the next best thing to being in the same room for direct conversation.