Does anyone really need to justify a trip to Paris? And, in particularly, with a strong US dollar and summery weather that awaited me in the “The City of Light.” Paris is itself a muse, a city whose magnetic energy encourages frequent returning visitors. There’s a beneficial symbiotic relationship between Paris and New York in which is obvious in fashion, interior design and the arts at large that beckons one to Paris for business and related pursuits. Here are few necessary visits to consider:
The Rodin Museum
I really came back to see the renovation and restoration at the Hôtel Biron. The museum reopened in November 2015 after it was closed for three years undergoing necessary renovation, and restoration. Rodin had bequeathed all of his work; plaster, marble, bronze, drawings and his collection of antiquities to France as long as they remained in Hôtel Biron. Now, it is a magnificent home for all of Rodin’s Art and his collection for us to enjoy.
If we allows ourselves to slow down a minute to pause, enjoy, contemplate Rodin’s Art it may remind us of life’s fleeting moments of a youthful romance, real or imagined. The interaction between the viewer and the work of Art is personal and a unique one. We don’t need to know so much about the work of Art to enjoy it. In fact, it might dampen one’s happy moment with it. Can we forget that The Kiss represents the two characters Paolo and Francesca, from Dante’s Divine Comedy? Can we allow the Rodin’s intellectual, sensual, occasionally provocative Art remind us of that maybe the busyness of life itself is the distraction and love is the opposite?
Nature and Antiquity are the two great sources of the life for an artist…
Take delight in the now; the elegantly coiffed gardens that Rodin had placed his sculptures in 1908. Originally, the garden was over grown. His bronze sculptures’ patinas are now cleaned and maintained. The gardens are divided into three; rose garden, an ornamental garden, and a cleverly concealed relaxation area that is tucked discreetly behind a trellis. The garden is a lovely way to experience his sculptures in nature.
Imagine the multitude of minds, hearts, and spirit that went into creating all of this - encompassing environment over centuries of time - this fantastic beacon of Art, Architecture and Landscape Design.
Following the Rodin, I crossed over the Pont de la Concorde to the right bank and walked through the Tuileries Gardens - one of my favorite places - along with millions of visitors the gardens receive annually. I veer off at the Louvre, to experience again Daniel Buren’s Les Deux Plateaux at Jardin du Palais Royal. I can’t help but to think of Audrey Hepburn as Regina Lampert in the movie Charade where confrontation with villainous Carson Dyle takes place at the colonnade.
The Biennale des Antiquaires is a enough reason alone to go to Paris. This year marked the twenty-eight biennale held in the Grand Palais, consisting of one hundred and twenty-five exhibitors from fourteen different countries, united with their love for Art and all things beautiful. The scenography was created by Nathalie Crinère. This was the first time that the Biennale included special exhibitions from the State Hermitage Museum, St Peterburg, Le Mobilier National, Paris and La Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, Genève.
There was so much beauty to take in; Art, antiques, furniture. Each exhibitor graced the walls of their vignettes with such beauty one with exquisite boiseries-coated walls. To narrow it down to a work of Art that captured my attention is unfair. However, since I have a weakness for hand-woven textiles, I will mention one: a diptych of a Neo-Classic Male and Female Design, hand-woven by John Eric Riis at Galerie Chevalier. John is considered America’s leading tapestry artist. The tapestry is made of cotton, silk, metallic thread, and crystal beads. Each tapestry measures 5’ - 9” high by 4” -3”. It was completed in 2014. It is classical in theme that has a contemporary feel in it’s color scheme, scale and approach. The added beading is distinctive, unusual and as an unexpected surprise gives it fresh feel.
A meeting at Lelievre
Here I met with the great grandson of the founder, Emmanuel Lelievre. Lelievre is one hundred and two years old. In France, I like how they marry the past with the present and an eye for the future. Lelievre is no exception. In 1997, it acquired Tassinari & Chatel established in 1680. At their archives, I was treated to a presentation of sumptuous historical document fabrics one after another, including hand-woven fabrics that were made for the restoration at Versailles stunning brocades made of gold and silver, a lampas commissioned by the house of Jansen in 1963 for the Kennedy’s, at the White House, and a velvet for the Throne Room at the Royal Palace of Madrid. Lelievre has two hand weavers of the only about four or five hand weavers who remain in France. It takes ten years to train new hand weavers and it is labor intensive. A school has been created to train new hand weavers in hopes of growing hand weaving industry again, which is optimistic yet, plausible. I think there’s something in the human spirit that needs to do this - to make beautiful things. There does seem to be an resurgence of handmade, hand-crafted, and when it’s French, it is usually the creme de la creme of quality. Lelievre also has other lines such as its collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier since 2012. They have developed four collections of fabrics and accessories. In 2017 they will launch their first wallpaper with the name ‘Jean Paul Gaultier by Lelievre.’
Before I left Paris for London, I stopped by the Ritz for a cup of tea with a friend and even though it was almost painfully hot, we enjoyed the tea outside on the terrace. The hotel recently reopened after being shut for four years for renovation. The firm of Thierry W. Despont was the designer who was brought on. While the renovation was necessary in terms of technology; plumbing and air conditioning. the decor was gently updated.
Paris is simultaneously an old and new city that honors the history and beauty of its historic buildings, making them comfortable for the Twenty-First century and embracing the future with an artful approach to preparedness and optimism.