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 gt up to 50 kph.


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