Paris – where life imitates art

There are many great cities around the world that boast a hip art scene and magnificent museums. But Paris oozes Art through its pores. The city’s history, its architecture, gardens, food, fashion and lifestyle are marked by a finessed artistic sensibility. It is a city that practices a mindful approach to all aspects of life, long before mindfulness became a 21st century catchphrase.

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Fountain at one of the entrances to the Grand Palais
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Reading room of the Keppler Hotel

Van Gogh and Titian are featured in Louis Vuitton’s new line of handbags

musee de chasse demonstration (18)
One couple, two very different fashion statements
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A ham hock ready for carving. Not something I would eat, but I love the presentation
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Statue at Trocadero overlooking Eiffel Tower
French cafe
Neighborhood cafe. Very patriotic with the ‘bleu, blanc, rouge’!

America has the Stars and Stripes but France is all about stripes. One of France’s most notable artists, Daniel Buren, has crystallized the essence of the stripe in his iconic works. “It was the idea to have something very banal, but very strong,” says the artist in Interview magazine. He calls his stripe motif a visual tool that can transform any physical space.

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Painting by Daniel Buren at the Modern Art Museum, Paris
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Stripes play a big part in French fashion. I couldn’t resist…

EXHIBITIONS – TOP PICKS FOR THE SEASON

There’s always so much going on in Paris that it’s hard to know what to see when time is limited. Two noteworthy exhibitions are being shown concurrently at the Grand Palais – Rodin and Jardins. The Rodin exhibition marks the centenary of the sculptor’s death (1840-1917) and covers Rodin’s extensive creative universe. Jardins (Gardens) is a bit of a stretch from a curatorial standpoint, but there is something for everyone, from antique gardening equipment and Impressionist paintings of gardens, to installations offering contemporary interpretations of nature. Below are two of my sketches from these exhibitions.

I would also recommend two private collections that do not often hit the international circuit. On exhibit at L’Orangerie is the Ishibashi collection normally housed at the Bridgestone Museum in Tokyo. Fabulous. The Caillebotte painting is particularly exquisite. At the Jacquemart-Andre Museum you can catch Spanish businesswoman Alicia Koplowitz’s eclectic collection. Handpicked works by Goya, Tiepolo, Schiele, de Staël, Freud, Rothko and Bourgeois are among this enviable private collection.

Bon voyage!

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Time flies…

Time flies when you’re having fun both in the studio and out. I was in Paris again in June for a brief visit, this time concentrating on connecting with local galleries and interviewing artists for my Great Nude.tv article entitled The Nude in Paris. I revisited a famous installation by Daniel Buren, one of France’s most renowned contemporary artists. His art pays particular attention to the structures and environments in which they exist, and his signature stripes are magnificent in his Columns installation in the Palais-Royal (below left). I appreciate his work so much more after attending a lecture and slide show he gave at the American University in Paris. A lot of art created today is more than 50 percent about concept and therefore understanding the cerebral inspiration for contemporary work is vital to its understanding.

Since returning from Paris, I have been concentrating on some painting backlog. I completed my colored pencil piece for Women of the Book. The Torah section which was my task to illustrate and personally interpret was Ki Tavo which deals with various polarities – the balance between giving and receiving, between reward and punishment etc. My final illustration (below) hopefully invokes an ambiguity as to whether the hands are in the process of giving or receiving. The dramatic backdrop conjures the beginning of time when I believe our connection to the earth and the spiritual world was clearer. The pomegranate is a common Jewish symbol and also happens to be the meaning of my family name – Milgrom – in Polish. Working on tradtional klaf, or animal hide parchment, was a real challenge and also confirmed that colored pencil is a very difficult medium when working on a large scale. I look forward to seeing the completed artists’ Torah and its eventual travelling exhibition.

Last Friday night (9/9/11) I participated in a group exhibition Political Potpourri which was the result of a call for entry for political works which individual artists are passionate about. I was thrilled to be able to exhibit my video A Winter’s Tale with its new soundtrack provided by composer Gina Bever. My video was originally shot in Israel in 2002 during the height of the Second Intifada (Palestinian Uprising) when suicide bombings became a deadly part of everyday life. I am eternally confounded by the potential for Man’s cruelty to Man and suicide bombing is a most heinous, senseless and merciless act of cowardice. Apart from my video, I also exhibited several sculptures, and my Israeli flag painting trilogy at MOCA DC in Washington DC’s Georgetown district.

I also recently completed a very challenging painting set to be exhibited at The Great Nude’s booth at the November Contemporary Art Fair in New York City. It felt wonderful to get back to the challenge of photorealistic painting, but after spending three days on one finger, I do ask myself why I subject myself to this type of work. The result is usually my greatest gratification.

Finally, as an antidote for this type of meticulous painting, I am thoroughly enjoying creating primitive and whimsical illustrations for a possible French cook book collaboration with chef and recipe tester Fiona Reed who is based in Maisons Lafitte outside of Paris. What better combination than food and art??

B is for baguette