Posters at Forney

photo: aux tour de notre dame

If Notre-Dame makes you thirsty, this is the
closest watering-hole.

Friday Night Roller Rando Revisited

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 19. June 2000:- Only this week's 'Scene' and 'Club News' columns deal with future events. The rest of the week's issue deals with recent past events in Paris. The most notable of these was yesterday's 99.8 percent weather - which was a stunning 'first' for the year. A second 'first' of the year is today's similar weather.

Maybe the 'first' first was the second 'first' of this type. I don't remember and I'm not going to look it up, because I write some other weekly columns on Sundays. Although I did go out to reconfirm that I was missing some rare air, breezes and light, this was only allowed minutes.

If you were in Paris yesterday, you will remember the type of weather it had with fondness. Since I wasn't out in it, I can't even regret it. My consolation is that I stopped walking, in the Tuileries on Friday, and sat down. The weather was only 88.3 on Metropole's good-weather scale, but the sitdown itself was a 'first.'

Treasure Trove of Posters

Even though some of the week's posters on public display in Paris are featured in every issue of this magazine, these are not necessarily the best posters there are. I call them 'working' posters. They are featured because they are part of Paris' visual landscape in any given week.

One city library, the Bibliothèque Forney, may not have the 'best' posters of all time, but it does have 20 or 30,000 of them in its collection. Posters were once an art form and this is the criteria the Forney uses when it is looking for posters to add to its collection.

The library has poster exhibitions about twice a year. The current one - continuing until Saturday, 22. July - features posters done by Jean Colin.

When he came out of the Beaux-Arts in 1933, he asked the celebratedphoto: entry, biblio forney author of the 'Revue Nègre,' Paul Colin, if he shouldn't change his name. The first Colin laughed, and 15 years later laughed no more, as the second Colin, Jean, overshadowed the first.

The Hôtel de Sens houses the Forney. The inside is as modern as the exterior.

After doing 'social propaganda' posters during the occupation, Jean Colin turned to cinema posters. Among these were his for 'L'Appel du Silence' and 'Zéro Conduite' films.

After 1950 he switched to more lucrative advertising posters, and his talents helped the notoriety of postwar products such as Cinzano, Kiwi shoe polish, Philips razors, and services like Air France, the SNCF, and auto equipment manufacturer Marchal.

After 1970, advertising agencies switched to the less memorable photographic posters we see today, and artists like Jean Colin and his contemporaries drifted into the past.

The Forney's current exhibition of Jean Colin's posters, has been augmented by 120 original posters, loaned by his daughter.

The library's present collection was begun with a donation by the industrialist, Samuel Forney, in 1886. At first the collection concerned artisanal and decorative arts items, but it was later widened to include painting, sculpture and architecture. The collection was moved from its original location to the Hôtel de Sens in 1961.

The Bibliothèque Forney has over 200,000 volumes, from the 18th century up to our time. Its specialized periodical selection is huge, and includes 40,000 exhibition catalogues, including those for auctions and commercial galleries.

For posters, there are 5000 examples, dating from 1880 to 1945; and the rest are modern. These are available for viewing, in the form of diapositives - or slides. The collection of postcards numbers over a million; and there are 2000 albums of slides featuring photo-essays of artisans at work.

As a Ville de Paris public library, the public has access to most of the contents. However, likeposter: jean colin©bibliotheque forney its building, the Hôtel de Sens which was built between 1475 and 1519, the library has no electronic databank. It has living librarians and card files instead.

To borrow items, a library card is required. A simple ID-card or passport is sufficient for browsing the collection.

Poster 'Marchal' by Jean Colin
© Bibliothèque Forney

The library is open from Tuesday to Friday, from 13:30 to 20:00; and on Saturdays from 10:00 to 20:00. The exhibition space has the same hours, but does not open until 13:30 on Saturdays. Exhibition entry: 20 francs. Normally there is no annual closing, but this year the Forney will be closed for the first two weeks of August.

Bibliothèque Forney, 1. Rue du Figuier, Paris 4. Métro: Saint-Paul. Info. Tel.: 01 42 78 22 59.

Looking for the 'Dernier Terrain Vague'

My Wednesday visit to the Bibliothèque Forney was no aimless accident. I have known a little about the Forney for years, but it took a reader's request to find the publisher of a specific poster that sent me there.

The publisher's name does not appear in the latest Paris phone books and phone info had no listing for it in the Ile-de-France region. Book merchants had never heard of the name, even though it showed up with a bar-code.

After getting myself a library card - not necessary for browsing - a librarian pointed out the reference books I needed to consult. Bingo! I turned up a Paris address and phone number.

At the address, no sign of the publisher. On the phone; I was told the publisher was long gone. No doubt it has returned to its 'Terrain Vague.'

Friday Night's Roller Folks

With it being light so late I figured it was time to go over the Place de l'Italie again and see how the roller folk are doing.

A week ago, 15 of them got knocked down near the Tuileries and a couple were badly hurt. Some adept roller speedsters get up to 50 kph.

Their Friday night mass-transit through Paris can reach a horde 30,000. They are accompanied by 80 'Paris-Roller' volunteers, a dozen roller-flics, two ambulances and motorcycle cops ride herd in advance of the parade and sweep up behind it.

When one goes down, 'they can go down like bowling pins,' according to a Paris-Roller spokesman. The most important is not to leave your hands on the ground and get up as quickly as possible.

Since the Friday night 'Randos' in Paris started, only one person has been killed - tipped over by a car - but about five or six participants end up in hospitals every Friday night.

Beginners are warned to stay away. Of those who go down, 80 percent are on the 'Rando' for the first time. Better for getting up to speed, are the Sunday 'Randos' at Bastille.

Going over on the métro on Friday, there were few roller-folk in the métro at Denfert. There was one couple with alpine skis and poles though. Another couple, both wearing skates, where exchanging their California addresses.

Arriving at Italie, the métro tunnels were clogged with a trainload of full-wheeled 'randonnéers' who didn't all bother to use escalators.

The Place de l'Italie must be big enough to hold 100,000 so only 30,000 leaves a lot of room for a mis-count. Unlike last winter when I last took it in, Friday's 'promenade' got under way shortly after its official start-time of 22:00.

At the entry to the Avenue des Gobelins six moto-cops on white BMW'sphoto: roller takes tumble swept around the corner into the wide avenue and they had at least 30 of the yellow-shirted 'Paris-Roller' monitors on their rear fenders.

Oops! One of the horde upsets right on the starting-line crosswalk.

On-coming traffic hadn't been diverted, but was stopped cold as the wheeled army swept past - for 20 minutes. Some roller-jokers were tumbling right in front of me, and the monitors were trying to keep others from going between the stalled cars.

About halfway into the 'rando' which takes over three hours, there is a rest-and-recoup halt. Recent tours have been confined to east Paris, but Friday night's was the full right bank-left bank, city centre tour.

It's kind of eerie. Just before 22:00, half the people you see outside are on wheels, heading for the starting place. Then, after they've gone, everything seems normal for a Paris Friday night.

If you are unaware of this - now traditional - weekly event in Paris, and you are in the right place at the right time, I suspect it can be kind of surprising to suddenly have your way blocked by 20 or 30,000 skaters in the night.

Café Metropole Club's 36th Session

The dubious moments of the 36th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' happened when a four-pack of new members arrived and the leader of the gang insisted on sitting out on the Quai de Louvre terrace of La Corona.

The club's secretary resisted this idea, on account of the noise level out there, but was probably considered to be an old fogy all the same. I may be old and a fogy, but I'm not a crazy old fogy.

Thursday's club meeting produced many good quotes too, including the 'Napoléon III is closed every Thursday,' which had something to do with the nearby Louvre. You can read about it on last Thursday's 'Club 'Report'' page.

Your club's next meeting will be on Thursday, 22. June, when I will not be in Montpellier covering a dance festival there. If you are in the mood, be sure to see this week's 'Club News' page too.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.25 - 21. June1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was headlined 'Risky Living.' The 'Au Bistro' columnphoto: smiley postbox, black was titled 'Is Paris Safe To Drink? Still No Strikes.' This issue had one thrilling feature, titled ''Salt Marshes' At Trocadéro.' The 'Scene' column had 'Midday Blackout: Celestial Show.' Another pre-launch version of the Café Metropole Club popped up with, 'Hillary and Bill, Bernadette and Jacques.' Maurice Utrillo was the subject of the email feature 'Will the Real Utrillo - Stand Up?' There were four 'Posters of the Week' as more or less usual. Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Not Coke Too!' Why not? I don't remember.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.25 - 22. June 1998 - The Café Metropole column had rare seasonal good news: 'Now Official: Leave Your Woolies At Home!' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'France Worries, But the Games Go On.' This issue had a bunch of features, with titles like 'Take a Slow Boat To Bastille - The Arsenal Marina,' 'Champs-Elysées - The World Cup Grill and Lounge,' 'On the Beach In Paris, and a Last Picnic,' and Linda Thalman's hair-raising 'Exciting Sailing Weekend In Brittany.' For footballing sportsfans there was 'Links For World Cup: Ready, Set - Parlez Foot!' There were the usual four 'Posters of the Week' too. Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Ticket Salesman.'

Metropole Paris' Nearly Solo Countdown to 31. December 2000:

Due to no reason in particular, the countdown is resumed with this issue. It has become impossible to sustain itsphoto: smiley postbox, pink suspension on account of contests that may show up here as soon as the contest fund reaches a level sufficient for acquiring prizes for all the winners. Until this level is reached, readers should send their contributions to 'Doctors Without Borders.'

There are only about 195 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium. For really fussy readers, this figure is correct for today only. Due to the resumption of this section, there are now, officially, 171 days gone since the last countdown failed on account of a mysterious gremlin that ate the Tour Eiffel's count-down mechanism last 31. December, which deprived count-down fans and their groupies of the thrill of the century if not the Millennium.
signature, regards, ric

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