Starving Artists Discovered in Paris

cafe le weekend
Even if you don't drink café, this place is
worth a visit for its tiles alone.

Actually Not Starving - But Squatting

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 1. June 1998:- While ordinary folks were doing the usual thing last week - sitting at home looking at the groundsmen covering up the red clay courts at Roland Garros on their TVs - I was out and about in the city, not getting rained on.

This was partly because I was trying out the rain-proofness of the Passage des Panoramas, just off the boulevard Montmartre. When I finished testing it, I think the rain must have stopped because I didn't notice any.

Due to a métro error I then made, I walked to where I was going instead of riding most of the way - and this is how I started seeing more of the Paris I hadn't seen before. This is simple to do as it is quite easy to make métro errors, and there is a lot of Paris not lying on one's usual routes.

Exactly a month ago I went to May Day and I started at the métro exit of Strasbourg-Saint-Denis and checked out the boulevard Saint-Martin for the first time. Last Wednesday, I was going in the same direction so I took the nearly parallel rue Notre Dame de Nazareth instead. If I carried a map I might have taken a shorter route, but then I wouldn't have seen this particular street.

I have nothing to report about it; it is mostly textile wholesalers, and near Temple there is more leather than textiles. I checked into the Web Bar to see if they have a program for the coming festivities, but it was not ready yet.

Presently, after being lost, I found the Musée Picasso in the rue Thorigny by accident. This is in the Hôtel Salé and is a really splendid palace, about 338 years old, so I stumbled through its cobble-stoned courtyard to the reception to see if there were any free offers.

Pickings were not great. There are a lot of people visiting this museum and I intend to do it someday myself. On the way out of its formidable entrance I noticed something odd across the street.

Directly opposite, in a doorway about the same anno dato as the Hôtel Salé's, there seemed to be something going on. I watched for a while until I figured out it was something strange and then I crossed the narrow street.

This fellow with wrap-around sunglasses told me it was an 'art squat.' Theart squat entry building was up for sale, so these hungry young artists helped themselves to it. They can't afford ateliers in the city - who can? - and someday the owner's legal proceedings will have them out on the street again, but until then...

Through this door came the artists. The overflow from the Picasso Museum also comes in here.

They have the whole building, and it must be six or seven floors. I don't think it has electricity or running water; but except for some holes in the walls, it seems fairly weather-proof. It is all pretty chaotic inside and visitors should wear hard hats and parachutes, but some other people like me were coming in from the Picasso palace across the street, and having a good and informal look around.

After having a good snoop around I tossed 10 francs 'for starving artists' into a handy old porcelain wash basin, and after saying 'hiho' to the dudes on the lookout for the eviction crew, headed off.

While I was waiting at the end of the block to ask a gallery operator a dumb question, a Brinks truck pulled up in front of Picasso's palace to collect the day's takings - just like at a supermarket! - but I didn't actually see the guy come out with the sacks full of loot before they drove off.

The Flying Tie Buyer

On Friday on the rue de Rivoli I was trying to meet my goal of four swimsuit posters for this week's issue. Samaritaine was disappointing me by promoting garden and balcony furniture instead and I was glumly heading for the métro in disgust.

I was passing these outside stalls they have on the sidewalk when I realized I might have seen something unusual so I turned around.

Sure enough, I see this Renault with its emergency lights flashing, sitting in a traffic lane, opposite a stall where two young ladies are selling these ties. The driver is trying to get their attention, and one goes to see what he wants.

What he wants, is a tie. She takes him a really hideous yellow one, hands it across the railing to where he's sitting behind the wheel, and then goes back for more. This is too good. I go back to the stall and see that all the ties are equally hideous. They cost 50 francs each. The young lady says not many drivers stop to buy ties.

The driver rejects the other three he's been given, and settles on the first one. The young lady brings it back and they put it in a bag and make out the sales slip. While they are doing this I go over to the railing and ask the driver if he buys a lot of his ties this way and he says, "De temps en temps." From time to time.

His timing is perfect. He's got his tie and he's got his car rolling just as a police patrol car pulls up behind him.

La Fête du Football

The first reader who writes to ask for the pair of free tickets I have for the Fête du Football on the east side of the place de la Concorde on Tuesday, 9. June at 21:30, gets them. Good for standing room only. This is absolutely not a Metropole promotion or any sort of commercial deal: first come, first served. Tell me where to send the tickets.

The tickets are courtesy of the Mairie de Paris and the reason you didn't go and get your own set is you didn't know about it. Neither did I; I chanced to see a fellow with a pair of them while coming out of the city hall reception last week and I went back in and asked for a couple.

Metropole's World Cup Links

Since just after the beginning of the year, a few links to World Cup sites have been a weekly item near the end of the 'Au Bistro' column - sort of in the guise of 'SportsNews.' The whole kabozzle is nearly upon us, so I've moved these links to a page of their own. Doing this puts fans into a kind of a 'links ghetto,' except for one link there to an anti-World Cup Web site. Check them out if you feel like it.

Max Ernst Exhibition

The only place I have seen this exhibition advertised is in the métro station Franklin Roosevelt, so I took a swing past Beaubourg on Friday to get the details.

The national modern art Centre Georges Pompidou is going through a difficult patch during its renovations, which will be lasting until the end of 1999. On one hand, there is some activity at the centre and on the other, the centre's major activities are dispersed - some are inposter: max ernst the neighborhood - and some really external; as in, spread all over Paris and France. The current Man Ray show at the Grand Palais is a 'Paris' example.

Although well-known as a painter, Max Ernst was also a periodic sculptor. He seemed to do it while off on trips - to visit his pals Giacometti and Paul Eluard, or further off, on Long Island or in Arizona. The Centre Georges Pompidou is showing 110 pieces and 15 paintings at the centre itself.

Max Ernst, Galerie Sud, Centre Georges Pompidou
Daily from 10:00 to 22:00; closed Tuesdays. Until Monday, 27. July. Entry: 30 francs. This exhibition will move to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf where it will be on show from 5. September to 28. November.

Beaubourg Moves to Paris' Modern Art Museum

This is an example of being totally renovated and showing your stuff off at the same time. Some 350 of the Centre Georges Pompidou'sart moderne - pompidou - picasso modern art treasures go on show at Paris' Museum of Modern Art, starting on Thursday, 18. June.

This is a long showing so it will be in three parts, with the third kicking in at the end of this coming October. All of the sub-classifications of modern art will be represented; from the fauves through to the 1981 'Psycho-sites' of Jean Dubuffet.

By complete fluke: Metropole's first Picasso. Photo: Succession Picasso©1998 and ADAGP©1998

From Thursday, 18. June until Sunday, 19. September 1999.
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11.avenue du Président Wilson, Paris 16. Open from Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 17:30; weekends from 10:00 to 18:45. Closed Mondays. Entry: 30 francs; catalogue of 80 pages, 49 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 53 67 40 00.


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