Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Degas and the nude exhibition at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris

An exhibition that is well worth going to!  Drawing nudes is the basis of any artistic training. A walk around this exhibition will really make you think, lots of drawings and paintings of women getting out of the bath and combing their hair.

The show is at the Musee d'Orsay and is only on until 1st July so there is not much time left if you haven't already seen it. Metro stop is Solferino on line 12, RER stop in Musee d'Orsay on line C. 

More information from Degas et le nu exhibition. More information on the Musee d'Orsay at Musee d'Orsay.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Modigliani exhibition in Paris

An absorbing collection of works of art, including portraits, nudes, drawings and sculptures are on display at the Pinacotheque gallery in Paris.

The works were owned by French art collector Jonas Netter and also on display are letters between Netter and artists such as Modigliani and Chaim Soutine.

The remarkable exhibition also includes work by Valadon and Kisling. All were artists made famous by Netter.

The exhibition is dominated by Modigliani who died at the early age of 35. The next day his wife, overcome with grief and nine months pregnant, committed suicide by jumping out of a top floor window.

Modigliani was known mainly for his portraits. Here is one of his landscapes. 

The exhibition is on until September 9, 2012. Entrance is 10 euros.

The Pinacotheque is in Place de la Madeleine.
Metro stop: Madeleine.
Lines: 8, 12 and 14.

Link to exhibition information at Pinacotheque museum, Paris: Modigliani exhibition at Pinacotheque.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The guillotine and Place de la Concorde in Paris

Place de la Concorde was originally named Place Louis XV after the king at the time, and a statue of the king stood in the square. However a few years later during the revolution the statue was torn down and the square was renamed Place de la Revolution.
The guillotine was installed and public executions abounded, including the beheading of Marie-Antoinette and King Louis 16th.
During the reign of terror in the summer of 1794 more than 1300 people were executed publicly in the square, allegedly.

A gruesome scene: the beheading of Louis 16th at Place de la Revolution, now called Place de la  Concorde.

After the turmoil of the revolution the square was renamed Place de la Concorde, the word concorde indicating the new era of harmony between people.

An impressive obelisk and two very beautiful and ornate fountains adorn the square which is located at the end of the Champs Elysees, with the Tuileries Gardens at the opposite end.

The obelisk was a gift from the Egyptian government and centuries ago it stood at the entrance to the Luxor temple. It is decorated with ancient hieroglyphics.

The spectacular fountains have an obvious water theme and feature statues of the Greek God Triton, messenger god of the big sea and father of Poseidon. There are also statues of naiads, Greeks nymphs who are bound to fresh water such as streams, wells and brooks.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Food and wine in the Vaucluse, Provence.

The Vaucluse department of Provence is known for its fine wines and fantastic Provencal foods. The three main wine appelations are the Cotes du Rhone, (named after the river) the AOC Luberon (named after the area) and the AOC Ventoux (named after the mountain.)

The sunny, warm climate makes it the perfect place to grow specialist grapes for wine making.

For those interested in wine, which is probably a good many of us, more can be found out about making wine, the history of wine and hopefully about drinking it, at the Vinter museums throughout the Vaucluse. Many Roman and other historic sites in the area, notably in Vaison-la-Romaine and Beaumes de Venises, have fascinating links to this most popular of drinks. 
More information from Wine museums in the Vaucluse

One of the best things one can do on a holiday in France is to spend hours wandering around the local markets. The food markets in Provence are really stunning. Some of the best Provencal produce includes melons from Cavaillon, strawberries from Carpentras, pungent black truffles, black and green olives, cherries and asparagus from Lauris.

More information from food and wine in the Vaucluse and also from The markets of Provence

Monday, 2 January 2012

King Louis XVI of France.

Louis XVI aged 20.

Louis Auguste was born in the Palace of Versailles in Paris on 23 August 1754. At the age of 15 he married a very young Marie Antoinette, who was just 14. He became king  in 1774.

Distinctive Louis XVI style furniture, known as neo classical, became very popular during the king's reign.

A Louis XVI chair, which is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Red Rock village of Roussillon.

Built from ochre rich rock dug from the surrounding area Roussillon seems to glow from the top of a hill in the Luberon area of Provence. The brightly coloured local earth and rock has been put to many uses over the centuries. The Romans used it in pottery glazes and the bright yellows, reds and oranges were used as dyes in the textile industry for hundreds of years until the 1930s.

Centuries of erosion and quarrying have left strange but impressive rock and cliff formations in and around the village. A walking trail - Le Sentier des Ocres - leads through this red landscape. 
You can visit a former ochre mine/factory which has been turned into a museum and shows how the ochre was made into pigment. The Conservatoire des Ocres et Pigments Appliques is on the D104 outside the village in the direction of Apt. L'Usine d'ocre Mathieu.

Also known as the Colorado Provencal, some of the scenery in the area is reminiscent of Australia's red centre.

Playwright Samuel Beckett, who wrote in English and French, lived in Roussillon between 1942 and 1945, where he helped the Resistance by hiding arms in his garden. He mentions the village in Waiting for Godot when Vladimir tells Estragon that everything there was all red. While the two tramps wait for Godot, who of course never turns up, the unlikely subject of the vendange (wine harvest or grape picking) and red Roussillon in Provence crops up. Theatre of the absurd indeed.

Officially one of the most beautiful villages in France, as given the stamp of approval by Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, an association set up in 1982, which aims to:
"avoid certain pitfalls such as villages turning into soulless museums or, on the contrary, "theme parks". Our well-reasoned and passionate ambition is to reconcile villages with the future and to restore life around the fountain or in the square shaded by hundred-year-old lime and plane trees."
The association has approved over 150 villages, which have to meet certain criteria, in 21 regions and 69 departments.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Truffaut's Les 400 Coups - one of the best films of all time


Les Quatres Cents Coups was an important New Wave film, released in 1959 by Francois Truffaut. Literally translated the title means the four hundred blows, but in French the term means raising hell. The film centres around 12 year old Antoine Doinell, who lives in Paris with his mother and father. Totally misunderstood by his indifferent parents, teachers and most other people, Antoine's life lurches from one disaster to the next. Set against a magnificent 1950s Parisian backdrop, the film pulls on the heart strings without being sentimental.
The New Wave movement was a group of film makers, which as well as Truffaut also included Jean-Luc Goddard, who broke away from the classical way of film making and created a new less formal style.
Watch the trailer then watch the film!