Paris – Nuit Blanche – resisting the winter with art

October 5 2013.
Paris’ ‘Nuit Blanche’ festival started for us with a bang – you really couldn’t miss the massive conga line of around 50 African drummers marching and dancing down our street with a crowd of a couple of hundred tagging along behind clapping and whooping in time to the music and the call-and-response chants.

Paris - Nuit Blanche

Paris – Nuit Blanche

Literally ‘White night’ – it is an arts event in which major galleries and government buildings and many smaller galleries open their doors for free – many of them until dawn. It is a final resistance to the inexorable shortening of the days into Winter, and it is quite the celebration. The Marais district comes alive and people stream out into the open spaces in front of the Town Hall (Hotel de Ville).

Paris - Nuit Blanche

Paris – Nuit Blanche

The Hotel de Ville is lit up in spectacular fashion

Paris - Nuit Blanche

Paris – Nuit Blanche – Hotel de Ville

and it becomes a meeting place for Parisians of all ages

Paris - Nuit Blanche

Paris – Nuit Blanche

Even the spiders have their own light show

Paris - Nuit Blanche

Paris – Nuit Blanche

We visited a small photographic exhibition at around 11.30pm – interesting concept, buildings photographed, along with what lies behind, and the building then partially erased as though transparent to show what lies behind in a partly fractured image – always ‘under erasure’ or as the French would say: “sous rature‘. Obviously we couldn’t photograph in the gallery – but this was from their poster – and shows just a little of the interesting concept behind the work.

Paris - Nuit Blanche

Paris – Nuit Blanche

It was great strolling across the bridges and seeing people out and celebrating life

Paris - Nuit Blanche

Paris – Nuit Blanche

And of course the light show went on well into the night

Paris - Nuit Blanche

Paris – Nuit Blanche

It was as unexpected as it was delightful – and what a wonderful concept to throw open the city for one night of the year ūüôā


The Tuileries and the Muse√© de l’Orangerie

The garden of the Tuileries – named for the tile manufacturing district it replaced – is a beautiful sanctuary in the heart of Paris, away from the hustle and bustle of the traffic and the visual stimulation of the various museums and galleries.

This is a seriously well tended garden – a discreet army of gardeners work quietly away in the background sweeping up leaves, collecting rubbish and tending the plants. Even the trees are tamed into cubes, and everywhere there are settings of statues and urns on plinths throughout.

The Gardeners - The Tuileries

The Gardeners – The Tuileries

We quickly encountered the eco lawn-mowing system for those hard to reach areas in the storm ditches – a team of goats munched their way making great use of their sure footedness to maintain a tranquil stance on the steep slope.

Goat - The Tuileries

Goat – The Tuileries

They have obviously long been a feature of this area as one of the urns used a goat motif for the handles – and there was Sharon’s inspiration for her day’s sketching.

Urn, The Tuileries

Urn, The Tuileries

 

A courageous move, I thought, as the sky darkened by the minute and threatened a severe downpour, but a challenge is a challenge, so we found a couple of chairs and settled down. While Sharon sketched, I took photos and fended off curious onlookers. A Judas Tree framed the urn and beyond lay the Louvre in turn framed by the garden. It is not the view everyone sees, but made a delightful composition among the autumnal flowers.

The Louvre, from the Tuileries

The Louvre, from the Tuileries

A carousel was set off to one side, near a large children’s playground and it played a series of french songs – a real delight!

Carousel, the Tuileries

Carousel, the Tuileries

Sharon managed to complete her sketch as the sky lowered and darkened and the wind picked up.

So we headed towards the Muse√© de l’Orangerie – as its name suggests the Orangerie was originally built in 1852 by the architect Firmin Bourgeois and completed by his successor, Ludovico Visconti, to shelter the orange trees of the garden of the Tuileries. It was then used as a store room/warehouse during the Republic and was later used as a temporary exhibition space for artists. Criticised for being too small, it took Monet’s donation to the people of France of a series of water lilies paintings to set up a permanent exhibition space – for those paintings to offer a haven of peace in the aftermath of the First World War.

Photos are not permitted of Monet’s works there but we passed by Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ statue and the famous ‘Cleopatra’s Needle – one of three obelisks brought back from Egypt during the Napoleonic campaigns (the other is in London). The obelisk is some 3000 years old – so calling it ‘Cleopatra’s’ is a misnomer – it was already over 1000 years old when she was alive. This needle, unlike the London and New York versions, is from the temple entrance at Luxor where its twin resides. The London and New York pair originated in Heliopolis and were moved to Alexandria during Julius Caeser’s reign.

View from the Tuileries

View from the Tuileries

The big surprise is that Monet’s paintings are only part of the museum. Downstairs is another gallery of works from the John Walter and Paul Guillaume collection – this comprises a number of works by Renoir, Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Durain, and Chaim Soutine. What a gem!

Renoir - Piano Student, at the Tuileries

Renoir – Piano Student, at the Tuileries

If you are ever passing this way it is well worth a visit – the entrance fee of ‚ā¨7.50 is well worth it for Monet’s breathtaking pieces alone – and the rest is the icing on the cake.

The Garden of the Tuileries

The Garden of the Tuileries


2013 Sarasota Chalk Festival

I have always really enjoyed pavement art. This year the Sarasota Chalk Festival will be held  November 13th -18th. I wish I could be there!

This is the video promoting the 2012 festival.  It is interesting to see how many different approaches there are to constructing an image.

Visit the Sarasota Chalk Festival website for another video that interviews a number of chalk artists. (I could not see how to embed the Vimeo video so I assumed those who run the Sarasota Chalk Festival did not want people sharing it.)