HUFFPOST: 15 minutes of fame

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Thrilled to share my personal essay just published in the Huffington Post, entitled

‘How An Encounter With The World’s Most Famous Vagina Painting

Changed My Life’ 

**DISCRETION ADVISED**

Typical crowd

WHAT’S EVERYONE STARING AT? READ MY ESSAY TO FIND OUT!

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A bad day in Paris…

eiffel peace sign
French graphic designer Jean Jullien created one of the most shared artworks symbolizing the recent carnage in Paris.

One can find thousands of quotes about Paris uttered by famous people from the likes of Hemingway and Oscar Wilde to Carrie from Sex and the City. One of my favorite quotes has always been an anonymous sentence that said it all: ‘A bad day in Paris is still better than a good day anywhere else.‘ But seven days ago Paris experienced a day so bad that, to quote a friend, ‘our beloved city has been changed forever.’

However, I refuse to allow the senseless, despicable carnage that has dimmed the City of Lights to overshadow my Paris, the city of my birth, a city pulsating with art, love, sensory delights and a history marked by the pursuit of freedom and equality. The images below are mundane and similar to hundreds of thousands shared on Instagram or Facebook every day, but they are mine – visual snapshots that I cling to as I pray for better days. I urge you all to hold on to your personal memories of Paris so that we can collectively turn the lights back on again.

FOOTNOTE: The widely subscribed e-journal A Woman’s Paris has published excerpts from my presentation given earlier this year about Art’s role in the growing divide between cultures and religions.

Showing some skin and is there a point to social media?

You have to hand it to the d’Orsay Museum in Paris. They know how to titillate the senses and draw the crowds with promotional material that whets the appetite and borders skittishly on the pornographic. Check out this commissioned video to promote their upcoming show inspired by the Marquis de Sade (whose erotic writings gave birth to the term sadism). Watch the 60-second video – it’s glorious!


The d’Orsay Museum is not averse to controversial art. Several years ago, I spent six weeks at the d’Orsay Museum in Paris as the first authorized copyist of one of the most iconic erotic paintings in the history of art – Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde (1866) . During my stint as a copyist I also filmed the highlights of one of my days copying what is essentially a close-up, peep-show view of a woman’s vagina.

Speaking with a visitor a the d'Orsay Museum during my stint as a copyist
Speaking with a visitor a the d’Orsay Museum during my stint as a copyist

I’m proud to announce that this documentary will be screened later this month at the Institut Courbet in Ornans, France to coincide with their annual copyist week in honor of Gustave Courbet. This is a huge validation of my work, and I feel quite excited about this exposure (no pun intended!). However, I was positively speechless when I found out that a trailer for my documentary had amassed close to 1,500,000 views (that’s right – one and a half million views) on the The Great Nude website that focuses exclusively on the nude in figurative art.

After feeling giddy about these statistics for a full ten minutes, I came down to earth when I realized that nothing actually resulted from all those views. Even if we dismiss one million of the views as voyeuristic lechers, out of the remaining five hundred thousand viewers you might think there would be one or two art critics, or gallerists or artists who might have contacted me with some exciting creative proposal. Nada. Not a one. Which begs the question – is there really a point to social media? So what if a gaggle of people have viewed the video? Does exposure really lead to anything concrete or positive? Maybe I’m missing the point. Love to hear from you.

For more about my work with L’Origine du monde click here.

Au revoir, Paris

Tour Eiffel

Before saying au revoir to the City of Lights on a stormy summer’s day, I would like to mention three exhibitions that range from the grand to the understated.

blog wordle

1. Impressionist Works from Private Collections

Musée Marmottan Monet, until July 6th, 2014.

To mark the 80th anniversary of its opening to the public, the Musée Marmottan pays homage to fifty private collectors who have amassed a stunning pool of Impressionist works never before exhibited in public. The Impressionists created some of the most popular artwork in the history of art. Exhibited along with the usual suspects – Corot, Boudin, Manet, Monet, Degas, Morisot, Cassatt – I discovered Jongkind and Guillaumin. It was a particular treat to see the esquisse (preliminary sketch) of one of the most iconic Impressionist works – Edouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies Bergères. See the sketch and the more familiar finished painting below.

Degas

 

Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.jpg

For an overview of images from the exhibition here is the French link.

2. Dans l’air mûr: Paintings and Sculptures by Rosy Lamb

Galerie Joseph, Marais district. Closed.

rosy lamb I

By far my favorite gallery show, Rosy Lamb is an artist’s artist. Her world is her studio, her paintings are gloriously painterly and her sculptures translate the immediacy of her hand. Her medium of choice is plaster – she paints with oils on plaster ‘canvases’, and sculpts in plaster. The grouping of sculptural work brings to mind the sculpture courts of the Louvre, but Lamb plays up the fragility of the plaster with an air of insouciance.

rosy lamb III

I feel very fortunate to have caught this show, as US-born, Paris-based Lamb has not exhibited for years and this exhibition was only up for four days. Wonderful little video of the artist at work here.

3. Micro exhibitions by Cirrus.

Streets of Paris, 2014.

I almost walked straight past Cirrus standing modestly on a Paris sidewalk behind what  looked like an architect’s scaled-down model of a small apartment.

cirrus I

These model constructions are actually self-portraits. Cirrus has asked the people in his life to provide him with personal photographs or artworks of their choice. He then makes mini paintings of these collections and curates an imaginary art exhibition on a micro scale. These open-air works represent those closest to the artist and thereby present a slice of his intimate world.

Cirrus II

I was fascinated by this totally unique perspective, and was completely awed by his dedication when I happened to pass by four hours later and saw him patiently explaining his work to other passersby. He can be reached at cirrus.j@free.fr.

Paris revealed its creative soul to me in so many ways. As I take my leave I think about all the wonderful art I was not able to see, but just like the cherries I had to leave behind on my friend’s cherry tree outside of Lyon, I will leave some art for others to discover. One can’t be too greedy…

Visit to lyon Cherry pickin (64) - Copy

Man versus Beast in Paris

hunt museum IX I have never understood hunting as a sport. The very idea of killing an innocent animal is repugnant to me. I rarely eat meat and I have been known to gently scoop up stink bugs and release them into the garden. But today my agenda in Paris was to visit the Museum of Hunting and Nature. The reason was twofold: I wanted to understand the history of hunting in France as part of the research I am doing on a book, and secondly I am always interested in how museums fold contemporary works into traditional collections to create a dialogue between old and new. The museum’s collection is grouped into hunting weapons, hunting ‘products’  like taxidermied animals, and artistic works related to hunting. hunt museum III The contemporary artist whose works are currently dispersed around the museum is Danish artist Lin Utzon whose father designed the famed Sydney Opera House. Lin Utzon’s Cosmic Dance exhibition at the Museum of Hunting has been heavily influenced by sparse nordic landscapes and her belief in the interconnection between every living creature and the common destiny we share. hunt museumIn the museum’s inner courtyard, her tall, sentinel  ceramic forms (above) are set on a sea of black coals and make a startling introduction to her work. However, I find her black and white imagery even more interesting when set against hunting artifacts and the depiction of hunting throughout the ages. hunt museum V I suppose I can accept that hunting was part of the natural order way back when, but when an animal is pitted against a man with a gun, that just seems wrong. I silently asked forgiveness of some of the taxidermied animals but the one room covered in ‘trophies’ made me queasy. hunt museum VI They were displayed in the same gallery as antique guns with beautiful mother of pearl inlays and other ornately decorated firearms. As my museum buddy pointed out, there was an uneasy juxtaposition of the dual beauty created by Nature and by Man. Utzon’s work at times seemed very graphic, almost Ikea-like, yet on the whole her oeuvre conveyed the nobility of Nature and provided an important reminder that the museum is called the Museum for Hunting and Nature. hunt museum II In one tiny little room, preserved animal parts were suspended in large glass containers, but the curator lightened the mood by including one jar containing a preserved teddy bear. In the same room a video of a unicorn was mesmerizing. hunt museum X Apart from the trophy room, the  museum was beautiful and partially succeeded in conveying the sense of respect that hunters hold for their prey. One gets an understanding of the long history and ritual of hunting  in French culture and in a way, I was able to see the connection between hunting and conservation. I was still having mixed feelings about the museum when I heard a distant but unmistakable roar of an angry crowd that makes one’s hair stand on end. I hurried out to the street to see what was going on and walked straight into a sea of demonstrators holding placards and yelling obscenities at the museum and its visitors – myself included. hunt museum VIII The manif (demonstration) was organized by the Society for the Protection of Animals, and where better to air their opposition to inhumane farming practices and hunting than the Museum of Hunting?  I could not believe the timing of this event with my visit. I was already in two minds about the nature of the museum’s contents and to be confronted by hundreds of emotionally charged protesters violently opposing the existence of the museum at that very moment I finished my tour certainly shook me up. I overheard a passerby asking one of the demonstrators what sort of museum this was and the response was: “A museum for psychopaths and assassins”. hunt museum VII When the procession of demonstrators and police cars finally moved on and the shouts of “Liberté aux animaux” died away, I snuck guiltily down the rue des Archives away from the museum whom only moments earlier I had looked at in a more favorable light.

France and the Art of Living

Artwork from Artists of the Marais group exhibition in the park.
Artwork from Artists of the Marais group exhibition in the park.

“Beauty in terms of art refers to an interaction between line, color, texture,    sound, shape, motion, and size that is pleasing to the senses.”

I’m in Paris and I’m a sucker for the infinite ways the French incorporate beauty into their daily lives. They have been honing the Art of Living for centuries, and that’s partly what makes France and Paris in particular, so beautiful – the veneer of the present letting the light of the past shine through. I will let the images speak for themselves.

I love the florist shops, as tempting as the patisseries
I love the florist shops, as tempting as the patisseries

 

Eric Kayser bakery on the rue du Bac
Eric Kayser bakery on the rue du Bac

 

The jazz clubs may have shut down but you can hear some of the best jazz on Paris'streets and bridges.
The jazz clubs may have shut down but you can hear some of the best jazz on Paris’ streets and bridges.

 

Graffiti pop quizz: Love is a)true b)false or c)dead
Graffiti pop quiz: Love is a)true b)false or c)dead

 

How do they walk those cobblestone streets in these?
How do they walk those cobblestone streets in these?

 

Container of creme fraiche brought to the table
Container of creme fraiche brought to the table

 

If you have time to kill, try the piano at the busy Gare de Lyon
If you have time to kill, try the piano at the busy Gare de Lyon

 

Boutique perfumery on the Ile Saint Louis
Boutique perfumery on the Ile Saint Louis

 

The right touch with a throw and some pillows
The right touch with a throw and some pillows

 

Catch you later. I've got some art to see!
Catch you later. I’ve got some art to see!

 

 

Out the gate and going at a gallop…

Most artists I know are incredibly busy people. We don’t really have a choice. In order to keep our heads above water we need to enter shows, write statements, send press releases, keep our blogs and websites up to date, court potential collectors, network, answer endless emails, attend gallery openings, prepare artworks for shipping, and – I almost forgot – keep producing art! To relieve some of the stress I tend to doodle mindlessly, and some of these doodles on wood have turned into tiny (2.5″ x 5″) little jewels thanks to a combination of pen and ink, acrylic wash and collage (see two examples above and below).  I have fallen in love with the look of resin-coated work and have covered these small works with a gorgeous thick layer of resin. A good demo link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRZL2PyJkbA.

With all these demands, deadlines and distracting doodles, its important to keep one’s sense of humor. A substantial part of my work does have a wry humorous edge to it. Take for example my plate set entitled ‘Eat Well, Exercise Regularly, Die Anyway’ (see detail below). It was inspired by a random email of witty jokes and riddles and was eventually transformed into an installation with two place settings. It has now been included in an upcoming coffee table book called HUMOR IN CRAFT which can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.

Speaking of a very different book, I am beyond thrilled that my essay ‘I AM WOMAN’ has been published in a French anthology entitled ‘Dans le ventre des femmes’, hard to translate – think about the expression ‘In the belly of the beast’ but replace ‘beast’ with ‘woman’. The anthology was the brainchild of Parisian author and poet Maia Brami, who persuaded fifty writers and artists (myself included) to contribute their personal views on the uterus. My text and included image were based on my amazing experience in Paris in 2010. For French speakers, the book is now available directly from the publisher’s website http://www.bscpublishing.com/index.php/notre-boutique-en-ligne. I am particularly honored to be part of this project because the introduction was penned by no other than Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues a ground breaking production which caused a cultural tsunami in its time.

Seeing as I am on the subject of women’s intimate attributes, I recently completed a painting along those lines entitled ‘Gatekeeper’ (see below) which was a companion piece to Back View  currently on show at the international exhibit Au Naturel : The Nude in the 21st century.

Our fascination with the human body and its ramifications in contemporary art and art history is the focus of a wonderfully erudite online publication called The Great Nude. I am the publication’s roving features writer and would love to share my recent article on nude art on the Israeli art scene entitled ‘The Holy Land laid bare’. For my readers, this new winter edition is FREE if you log in with the Username : Lilianne and Password : Milgrom. There’s tons of great content and well worth a visit to the site.

I am also hard at work on my solo exhibition later this year called ‘Chez mes amis’, a series of paintings based on my friends in Paris, and the objects that surround them and define them. Here is a preview glimpse at a still life which is part of the Chez Magdalena grouping:

With all this pressure is it any wonder I have just applied for an artist residency in a little village in France? The thought of being sent off to indulge in the luxury of creation, without any distractions and in the company of other kindred spirits is very appealing. Artist residencies are highly recommended not only for one’s creative development, but also works as a big plus on one’s bio. Another great resource for all types of residencies and grants is http://www.miraslist.com/. Keeping my fingers crossed – I will be notified in the coming weeks.

For any purchase information please contact me at liliannemilgrom@gmail.com.