I'm down to my last two days for this long stay in Paris, so over the weekend I went exploring. Paris has exploded out of its summer cocoon and is in full glorious swing already, although it's only the start of what is going to be a really great Fall season, featuring a three part major exhibition on Picasso and a big show of Mantegna at the Louvre. Saturday called for a little formal wear - heels and a black jacket - to attempt to fit in with the crowd at the big Antiquities Bienniale. As expected it was quite elegant, as all things should be under the wonderful Art Nouveau ceiling of the Grand Palais (a remnant of the World Expo of 1900.) The jewelry section was very popular, but my interest was in the array of different periods and artists, and in the 'shopping mall' aspect of art viewing. Big fairs like this are always interesting, whether contemporary or traditional arts, because you're in a different relationship with what you're seeing than you are in a museum. "How much is that little Matisse drawing?" is a legitimate question, even if you have no realistic ambitions to actually own it. I spent a few lovely moments with one dealer and her extraordinary collection of works on paper, including a beautiful red chalk Tiepolo head, and an extraordinary sketch by Corot. The next moment I was in a stall of a dealer in antiquities, looking closely at a tiny, exquisite Egyptian face from 2500 bce.
The weather was gorgeous on Sunday so I took advantage of free bikes and a more casual dress code, and rode all over the city finding outdoor events. I started at the "Marche de la Creation" near Montparnasse, a fairly predictable arts fair that's held every Sunday (these take place in several locations on a published schedule) showing the work of local artists. The quality was fair to excellent, as anywhere, but I found several really interesting artists, including two photographers, an etcher, and a painter whose work reminded me of Basquiat - very powerful and bright with a great spontaneous hand. I actually bought one of his small works for the grand sum of 30 euros. (He's the one in the sun hat - which is from the San Diego zoo!) Later I came across a small collection of potters along the Viaduc des Arts, with a table set up to teach children to build french castles out of clay!