Scene - 1999's Big Expos Begin

photo: musee d'orsay

The Musée d'Orsay is the Impressionist's temple. Dr. Gachet is at the Grand Palais though.

Star of Paris' New Season: Impressionism!

Paris:- Saturday, 30. January 1999:- I don't know whether it is true or not, but I have a feeling that one of Paris' and France's most popular attractions is the 19th century idea of Impressionism.

It seems to carry a romanticism about itself that is seen as modern, with its underlying idea of liberty from conventions, rules, regulations and academies.

It's not just that the paintings themselves are wonderful artworks, but the painters are imagined to be 'romantic' types. I recently read that in their own times - after they got over some 'official' disapproval - they were treated like famous film 'directors' are treated today.

Obviously what I read was in French, because I think it is mostly in Europe where film director's names are known to the general public, and they are treated as stars intheir own right; but this is off the subject.

Last fall's season saw record crowds at the Musée d'Orsay going to see the Millet-Van Gogh 'face-off' exhibition, and today a new exhibition begins with Vincent Van Gogh again being the featured attraction.

The new exhibition has the long title of Un Ami de Cézanne et Van Gogh; le Docteur Gachet. The posterphoto: grand palais features the Van Gogh portrait of the good Dr. Gachet, with whom Van Gogh stayed for the last 70 days of his life, at Auvers-sur-Oise.

Dr. Paul Gachet was probably the first 'fan' of the Impressionists. A month before the first 'Impressionist' exhibition in Paris in 1874, he wrote to Camille Pissarro to tell him how Jean-Baptiste Corot had saved Honoré Daumier from eviction.

No big crowd at the Grand Palais today for the opening.

He urged Pissarro to organize sales of the 'co-operative' members paintings, because while Daumier had a roof, he had no bread. Dr. Gachet suggested offering the paintings of Manet, Monet, Sisley, Piette, Gautier, Degas, Guillaumin, Cézanne... the whole co-operative. Before the first show of the 'Impressionists,' some of them were nearly starving; and Daumier was nearly blind as well.

Dr. Gachet was himself a painter. He also copied the styles of his friends. This has caused a problem, because most of the works in this exhibition are from Dr. Gachet's collection of his friends' paintings, and it is a bit unclear who painted what.

For this exhibition, the Gachet collection has been very carefully examined by experts and several mysteries have been cleared up once and for all.

Exhibition at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, until Monday, 26. April. Open daily except Tuesdays, from 10:00 to 20:00; on Wednesdays until 22:00. Reservations required for visits before 13:00. Tickets available at fnac, Virgin and Carrefour. Resa Info. Tel.: 08 03 80 88 03.

The Pompidou Centre - Also Known as Beaubourg:

David Hockney has arrived with an exhibition advertised as 'Espace / Paysage' which translates as 'Space / Countryside.' Last Wednesday, on opening day, I couldn't get in to get thephoto: beaubourg brochure, so all I can say is that the show continues until Monday, 26. April. This is in the Galerie Sud.

The interior of this museum has been undergoing interior renovations since October 1987. Many of the museum's collections will be on view at other museums in Paris, at other cities in France and other countries - until the renovations are completed.

In front of the museum there is a tepee, which has information about the centre, presented in a multimedia form. The public library remains open at 11. rue Brantôme, just to the north of the museum. The Atelier Brancusi also remains open.

Musée d'Art et d'Historie du Judaïsme - this museum opened for the first time in its new incarnation on 6. December of last year, in the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan. This is 'in' the Marais, in the rue du Temple at number 71; Paris 3. Métro: Rambuteau.

The museum is open from Monday to Friday, from 11:00 to 18:00 and on Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00. Info Tel.: 01 53 01 86 53 and Fax.: 33 1 42 72 97 47. Since it is a new museum, there is also an Internet address you can write to for information.

Kafka - is one of my favorites because he got it so right for our modern times. His 'A la Colonie Penitentiaire,' translated by A. Vialatte and directed by Yves Kerboul, started on the boards at the Théâtre du Tour Tour on 5. January, but does not seem to have an 'until' date - except for the mention that there will be no performances on 26 or 27. February. The address is 20. Rue Quincampoix, Paris 4. Métro: Châtelet. Resa and Info. Tel.: 01 48 87 82 48.

Mark Rothko at the Museum of Modern Art - 70 works are on display, done between 1935 and 1969. This amounts to a span of work covering 34 years and it is arranged in chronological order; so you can see either where the artist was going or where he came from.

Musée d'Art Moderne, 11; Avenue du Président-Wilson, Paris 16. Métro: Iéna or Place de l'Alma. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 17:30 and on weekends from 10:00 to 18:45. Info. Tel.: 01 53 67 40 00.

Retromobile '99 - is coming soon. This year the main features will be the custom cars of famous people such as a Pope, a dictator, a writer, a military governor and the liberator of the governed. Citroën will be celebrating 80 years of existence and there will also be 50th anniversary of the Formule One Grand Prix. Matra, also will be having its 30th anniversary.

The dates for this year's edition are Friday, 12. February until Sunday, 21. February. The event takes place at Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles, and will be in the Hall 2/1 like last year. If old boats are your bag, 'Retro-Nautique,' featuring Horace Dodge's 'cigar' racer, concocted by Harry Miller. The retro-boat show takes place at the same time, in the same place.

Strange Movies - I guess this is what you may see if you intend taking part in the first 'FFF 99 Paris' which is shorthand for the 'Fetisch Film Fest.' Oops, I see that this involves 'alternative' sex, bizarre behavior and other weird strangeness, and would probably be banned if it were on the Web instead of in three Paris cinemas. For people who enjoy fantasies only.

The fifty non-U movies can be seen at L'Espace Saint-Michel, 7. Place Saint-Michel, Paris 5. - Tel.: 01 44 07 20 49; Le Latina, 20. Rue du Temple, Paris 4. - Tel.: 01 42 78 47 86; and Action Christine, 4. Rue Christine, Paris 6. - Tel.: 01 43 29 11 30.

Do You Know Juliette? - She will be singing from Tuesday, 9. February until Valentine's Day at the Olympia every night at 20:30, except on Sundays when she will perform at 17:00. Her new album, which I have not heard, is called 'Assassins sans Couteaux.'

Tickets are available at all the usual places, including the Olympia, which is opposite number 43 in the Boulevard des Capucines, Paris 9. Métro: Madeleine. This concert hall is so famous it does not seem to be in the phone book or in any of my guides; therefore no exact address is given here.

Lettre d'Une Inconnue - is a play by Stefan Zweig that alternates with his 'Souvenirs d'Un Européen-Fragments,' until Saturday, 13. March. The first is on stage Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 19:00; and the latter plays on Mondays and Fridays, also at 19:00. At Le Guichet - Montparnasse, 15. Avenue du Maine, Paris 14. Métro: Gaité. Info. Tel.: 01 43 27 88 61, or get tickets at fnac, Kiosques or Crous.

'Palettes' Celebrates 10 Years: - If you are in a hotel room in Paris, France or in Germany, the TV channel Arte will be showing a series of 45 films about paintings, directed by Alain Jaubert. On every Friday at 20:15 until 25. June. Filmed in cooperation with the major museums, the series is also available on video.

Who Are The French? - This exhibition - called 'Toute la France' - is about all the people who immigrated to France from 1880 to the present, and there are around 700 items on view - quite a lot of them 'arty.' The names in a 'Who's Who' in France would look like they've come from the world's edition of a telephone directory.

Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, 129. Rue de Grenelle, Paris 7. Métro: Varenne or Solférino. From Tuesday to Friday, from 10:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 17:30; Thursdays to 19:00. On Saturday from 12:30 to 17:30 and on Sundays from 14:00 to 17:30.

The Louvre is never finished - never! - and seems to operate on some expansion system normally found only in outer space. The Louvre, however, is in Paris and it contents itself with expanding its own interior space into yet more - yes, more! - space for exhibitions.

So then, the Italian wing has added six 'large-format' frescos; two by Botticelli, one by Fra Angelico and three by Luini. These are all in the 15th and 16th century periods and are 'part two' of a three-part expansion; of which the third part will be completed 'next' spring.

Find these new marvels on the first floor of the Denon wing, near the stairway with the 'Winged Victory of Samothrace' [Third century, BC] Everybody in Paris, both residents and visitors know where the Louvre is, so I'm not putting in its address here. For your convenience though - Info. Tel.: 01 40 20 51 51.

The Opéra-Comique - is having its 100th birthday right now. There is a photo exhibition which features the opera's past, and this can be viewed until Wednesday, 10. February. On Wednesday from 10:00 to 18:30 and on Saturdays from 10:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 18:00. There's no charge for this show; it can be seen at the Place Boïeldieu, Paris 2. Métro: Richelieu-Drouot. Info. Tel.: 01 42 44 45 46.

Forum des Images: - will be showing an international selection of 'director's' films made especially for television; and in parallel a selection of 'alternative' TV programs, such as 'Paper Tiger' from the USA. Censorship will also be treated, with Marcel Ophüls' long-banned 'Le Chagrin et la Pitié' as an example. Until Tuesday, 9. February, at the Nouveau Forum des Halles, Porte Saint-Eustache. Paris 1. Info. Tel.: 01 44 76 62 00. See the feature 'Paris - The Movie' in this issue.

The RATP's 'Winter Bus' Tours: - Some of these are to sites in Paris and some are further away; many tours cost about 200 francs, but there are some for less and some for more.

All of this can be found at a little RATP office, just to the right side of the Madeleine. At the same kiosk, there are also a series of attractive brochures for the RATP's regular Paris bus lines. If in need, but sure to check out the nearby public toilet; as it is a jewel and may be classed as a historical monument.

The 'Winter Bus' season continues until 30. March 1999. The kiosk is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00. Closed on Saturdays,Sundays and holidays. The 'Summer Bus' season has longer opening hours and is open on weekends.


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