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Culture and lifestyle
Suggestions and comments on exhibitions, art galleries, theatres, operas, new restaurants and hotels throughout Europe
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Les chiens ne font pas des chats. Ou alors intelligents | Sophie Calle, Eglise des Celestins, Avignon

Pour une fois, je n'ai pas pris de notes pendant l'exposition. Celle de Sophie Calle en l'Eglise des Celestins d'Avignon. Une exposition sur sa mère défunte. Bizarre me disais-je, mais que ne pas attendre de la part de celle qui s'est fait auto-suivre par un détective privé, invite des étrangers à dormir dans son lit et leur fait écrire leurs impressions, ou raconte sur des murs l'année qui suivit sa pire rupture d'amour, et comment elle fit pour s'en remettre

J'arrive circonspect, malgré mon admiration pour l'artiste. Une exposition dans une église, ça fait un peu Sagrada Familia. Je décide de passer outre les 5 euros - le royaume du spectacle vivant est toujours un peu mercantile - et le lourd rideau de velours vert, et pénètre dans le premier hommage de Sophie Calle à sa mère

Tout de suite, l'artiste répond à mes interrogations. Pourquoi ce titre, Rachel, Monique? Parce que sa mère a souvent changé de nom - comme le rappelle d'ailleurs une dédicace émouvante de Sagan, présentée dans l'exposition. OK, cela n'explique pas les deux prénoms, mais à cela, il peut aussi y avoir plusieurs explications. Pourquoi une exposition sur sa mère, et qui plus est, sur les derniers jours de sa mère? Parce que la dite Madame Mère s'énervait de n'être pas dans l'oeuvre de sa célèbre fille. Comment rendre cette exposition callesque, c'est-à-dire intelligente, joyeuse, farfelue, fantaisiste, profonde et pleine d'enseignements? En présentant non seulement la vie de l'artiste juste avant, juste après, et autour, de la mort de sa mère, mais aussi celle de sa mère, dans son intégralité, par le truchement de la lecture de ses carnets intimes. N'est-ce pas un peu voyeuriste? Absolument pas, car c'est Monique elle-même qui, sur son lit de mort, nous apprend le cartel d'entrée, a insisté pour donner ces carnets à sa fille. "Elle savait très bien ce que j'en ferai. Sinon, je ne me serais pas permis". Tout est dit, sobre. On peut commencer l'exploration

La seule question à laquelle je n'avais pas de réponse était l'omniprésence sous les formes les plus variées - et ce, jusqu'à une écriture avec un cheveu de l'artiste - du mot souci. On comprend plus loin que c'est le dernier mot prononcé par sa mère. "Ne vous faites pas de souci". Je l'aurais écrit avec un S, mais Calle la scrupuleuse, celle qui note tout, qui déchiffre tout, doit avoir une raison

Le cadre de l'église des Célestins est merveilleux, et surtout merveilleusement adapté à ce contenu si original. On croirait avoir pénétré dans un tableau d'Hubert Robert

L'exposition est double. Sur les murs et dans l'espace, d'abord. Le récit du voyage à Lourdes de Sophie juste avant la mort de sa mère, une très brève narration de leur dernier voyage ensemble à Cabourg, la façon dont elle a abandonné, avec dévotion, le collier Chanel et le diamant de sa chère mère près du pôle Nord, pour lui faire faire à sa façon un voyage que celle-ci n'a jamais pu faire de son vivant - on notera au passage que le diamant est le fruit de l'échange d'un immeuble grenoblois par le grand-père de Sophie. J'ai de la sympathie pour les familles originales, et peu douées en affaires

Sur le plan sonore, ensuite, puisque Sophie a renoué avec la volonté d'occuper l'espace audible aussi, en lisant les 16 tomes du journal intime de sa mère. On croit d'abord à un enregistrement. Le cartel initial explique qu'elle ne sait pas faire, qu'il n'y a qu'une obigation de moyens, pas de résultat, mais un seul engagement: en terminer la lecture avant la fin du festival. On pense à la rétrospective belge de Calle, où Frédéric Mitterand, qui n'était encore que Directeur de la Villa Medici, lisait des textes sur les haut-parleurs des Bozar. A moins que je ne mélange

Quelles étaient les relations de Sophie et de Monique? Compliquées, on s'en doute, comme souvent entre des personnalités que l'on devine fortes et intelligentes. Monique Rachel parle de l'"arrogance égoïste" de sa fille. Est-ce mieux que l'"indifférence tranquille" de son fils? Sophie Calle nous livre cependant des indices. Tout d'abord, la plaque, visible par deux fois, à l'entrée des alcôves où se trouvent des photos de Monique sur son lit de mort ou dans son cercueil. "Je vous prie de ne pas prendre de photos dans cette salle". Cet écriteau, ultime pudeur d'une fausse impudique, donne envie de pleurer. Il signifie tellement de choses

Au détour de quelques vieilles pierres, amassées là comme pour servir le propos de l'artiste, on voit une petite brune élégante assise nonchalemment en biais, un vieux cahier sur les genoux. Je regarde de plus près, ses lèvres semblent bouger au même rythme que la mélopée sonore à laquelle j'avais à peine prêté attention jusque là. Je m'approche. C'est bien Elle. Comment n'avais-je pas compris plus tôt? L'engagement de lire les carnets de sa mère, c'était ça, c'était d'être au milieu des visiteurs, inconnue et incognito - sauf les lunettes noires -, pour ne surtout pas être seule à la lecture de ces cahiers

Soudain, Sophie s'étrangle discrètement, pudiquement. Elle s'arrête. "Pardonnez-moi, je vais m'arrêter un peu, je n'arrive plus à lire". Elle sort. Cela, ça en dit long sur les rapports mère-fille

Je termine mon tour, hyper ému de ma dernière heure passée dans la compagnie si déroutante d'une fille que je ne connais pas et d'une mère dont je n'avais jamais entendu parler. Je partage désormais pour toujours le deuil de la première, et regrette la disparition de la deuxième

Quand je sors de l'Eglise, Sophie est là, sur le perron, fumant. Personne ne la reconnaît, on n'est pas à Paris. Vais-je aller lui parler? Je ne saurais pas trop quoi lui dire. Je préfère la laisser à ses pensées et retourner aux miennes. Sans me faire de souci

Sophie Calle
Rachel Monique
Eglise des Célestins, Avignon
Jusqu'au 28 juillet 2012
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La semaine dernière (week 27)

J'ai aimé:
- Kastner & Oven, a wonderful salad place in the City, near Spitalfields - even if the name is impossible to remember, the variety and quality of the salads is unmatched
- Sandra Nkakké - découverte lors d'un concert privé sur une merveilleuse terrasse parisienne, cette chanteuse d'origine camerounaise passe du rock à la soul dans le même morceau, chante admirablement en anglais. Son dernier titre, Nothing for granted, est entêtant. Disponible sur iTunes
- le regain d'activité perçu ces dernières semaines sur la ligne Twitter @HuffPostArts. A suivre #FF
- le Bistro du Parc, boulevard Jean-Mermoz à Neuilly - il faut faire amende honorable. J'y étais passé il y a quelques semaines pour réserver une table et le maître d'hotel condescendant avait eu vite fait de me faire repartir. Y suis retourné diner, et c'était délicieux, et le service efficace, sinon amical. Pas encore. Seul bémol: les horaires d'ouverture qui devraient être coordonnés avec le cinéma voisin
- To Rome with Love - tout le monde en a dit du mal, j'y allais avec des pieds de plomb. Ai adoré. Rome est sublime sur les images de Woody Allen, mais on s'y attendait. Allen fait du quasi Lellouche (pas de gradation intentionnelle dans mon propos) avec des histoires qui se croisent, mais dont la légèreté et les multiples références culturelles rendent ce film un excellent divertissement

Je n'ai pas aimé:
- the Cool Hunting links sponsored by BA - since a couple of weeks ago, my most treasured lifestyle blog, Cool Hunting, has decided to pollute their unique content with a BA-sponsored story that does not look like one (thus resulting in a click) on their daily email. Everyone needs to make a living, but is there really no other way?
- la fin de Bref - ça c'est la cata. On se doutait bien qu'ils ne pourraient pas tenir toute la vie, même si on aurait bien voulu, mais une saison c'est trop peu. Seul consolation possible: ils vont inventer quelque chose d'encore mieux après. Mais la barre est haute
- Baglioni in Rome - je suis peut-être retardé, mais j'ai découvert les Baglioni il y a une douzaine d'années, lors de l'ouverture de leur hôtel de Londres. C'était superbe et le Brunello délicieux. Celui de Rome, malgré les récompenses affichées derrière le comptoir ne tient pas la comparaison: chambre petites mais encore OK, un caffè mauvais - digne d'un bistrotier parisien -, et une salle de gym sans clim ressemblant à la salle de torture d'un donjon médiéval... L'area condizionata per favore? E rotta, dottore, pero chiamo qualcuna subito. J'attends encore...
- l'app SNCF - pour réserver un billet de train, il faut updater l'app. Je le fais. Post update, on ne peut toujours rien réserver mais on a droit à ce superbe pop-up: "Pour réserver un billet, rendez-vous sur notre site Internet". Qui a dit que les apps allaient remplacer les sites dans quelques années? Pas la SNCF
- Bonobo's - plusieurs de mes amis new-yorkais me vantaient cette marque de pantalons aux coloris chatoyants et soi-disant aux formes incroyables. Après avoir réglé 85$ de transport sur Internet, je commande enfin le pantalon qui allait faire de mon été un succès. Ce n'est qu'en ouvrant le paquet que j'ai vu le mot de ma concierge me disant avoir réglé 50 euros de transport... Le prix du transport est donc égal à 150% du prix du pantalon. Qui dit mieux?

Je n'ai pas tranché sur
- Da Sabatini, nel Trastevere a Roma - superbement mis en scène par Woody Allen dans son apologie de l'esprit romain (voir ci-dessus), ce restaurant est délicieux et situé sur une des plus agréables piazze du Trastevere romain, quoiqu'un peu touristique. Mais était-il bien nécessaire de nous faire payer autant pour un diner certes agréable, mais qui ne le justifiait pas du point de vue culinaire
- Harold, bistro agréablement décoré et "ambiancé" rue de Prony à Paris. Ouvert le dimanche, carte agréable sinon originale, seul bémol: l'huile. Il y en a beaucoup trop!
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My 21th most subjective to do list

1) Visit the new cafe of Palazzo Reale in Milan, just refurbished by star-architects Studio Peregalli (Milan)
2) Spend a week end in the recently opened House Hotel Bosphorus, designed by Turkish duo Autoban (Istanbul)
3) Visit the relocated Barnes Foundation, transferred on May 19 from the suburbs to the centre of Philadelphia - if anything only to see La Danse, by Matisse (Philadelphia)
4) Renew your stationnery set with nerd-wooing code cards (www.code-cards.com) or Tokyo-created Le programme de ma semaine, desk-bound über-simple paper agenda created by Mark's Tokyo Edge(www.store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/marks/day-nb8-pk.html, better if you speak Japanese)
5) Visit Cornwall in the summer to see the promising Alex Katz exhibition in Tate St-Ives (Cornwall)
6) Get Interviews with Artists 1966-2012, the recently-published book where Michael Peppiatt has selected his 40 best artist interviews over the last 60-odd years (anywhere or online)
7) Shop at Rooney, one of the super nice menswear stores in Montreal (Montreal)
8) Spend a week end at the newly refurbished Whyte Hotel in Brooklyn, paroxysm of rehabilitation (New York)
9) Try Pauly Saal, the latest restaurant newcomer in the Mitte (Berlin)
10) Book a bling extended week end at the well-named hotel Tantalo in Panama (Panama)
11) Try the new Bara Boux luggage brand, especially 24 hour tote bag (Internet, www.baraboux.com)
12) Buy a Redo perfumed candle, the fragrance of which has been created to remind of books and libraries, with leather, plum and patchouli (Internet, www.byredo.com)
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What you cannot enforce, do not command | Antigone, National Theatre, London

What you cannot enforce, do not command | Antigone, National Theatre, London | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

As I enter the auditorium-shaped Olivier Theatre, the stage is already very busy. Someone, who I initially mistake for an office clerk is at his desk. The whole stage looks more like an office than like Creon's court, or as if Jack Bauer's CTO has been brought back in time in Lost's recently discovered cave

 

Behind me, a very weird couple is having an argument about their negotiation tactics for their rent. I can sense they will be painful - as they believe the play is held for them alone. At the same time, reflecting on the current state of the stage, I cannot say I am annoyed by what is clearly now a contemporary direction of Sophocles' Antigone. More eager than annoyed

 

19.30 sharp. The curtain opens or, more accurately it does not as, as for most theatres now, there is no curtain. A rapid music starts. The office clerk starts buzzing around frenetically, like all the other people more or less hidden in other angles of the office-stage. Suddenly the stage looks more like a command unit during war time. The buzzing people end up aggregating behind a screen, as if they were watching the Wimbledon finale. I don't understand a thing, what has Polly Findlay, the director, meant?

 

Second scene, Antigone, played by Jodie Whittaker sounds weird. A bit like an Eastenders character. What, Oedipus' daughter talking like Eliza Doolittle? This is the first hiatus in the play, but unfortunately, very far from the last one. Ismene, her sister, sounds much more royal, or at least less working class

 

From there, the plot is simple. Creon does not want to bury Polynices, Antigone’s brother, as he fought against Thebes. First, Antigone is the only one clearly demanding her brother’s burial – and actioning it, but then progressively the whole city takes her side, until the blind prophet Teiresias predicts the worst to Creon and his family, should he decide to punish Antigone for having buried her brother

 

Creon, more faithful to his principles than open to his feelings, decides to stick to his initial decision. The consequences are easy to imagine

 

But the gist of Sophocles’ play is of course not in the story. It is in how the feelings of a family interact with the ideas of duty, rules, power and religion. And this is what Antigone’s director should have conveyed much better than she did

 

To start with, I was largely unimpressed by the protagonists. Creon seems lost and does not act in the driven and authoritative manner that his part suggests. His dictatorial attitude on stage conveys more a lack of self-assuredness than a real charisma

 

Then, Antigone. A young and strong woman character in a play directed by a young female director. For some reason, she does not quite manage to establish this link, so necessary, between the audience, and the characters that it is supposed to sympathise with, in a tragedy

 

Third, the set, the costumes and the decor. Too general, not at all in phase with the grandeur of the sentiments that Sophocles has so marvelously reproduced in his play. In a way, they undermine the universality of Sophocles’ themes

 

From my perspective, that was another worthwhile attempt to modernise a 2500 year old play, but unfortunately it did not work. Would however mention the young actor playing Creon’s son (there are three, and sadly I am not sure which one was performing the night I saw it), and Don Taylor’s adaptation of the play, which kept the essential from the original version and made it more palatable to the general public

 

As the regular readers of these chronicles would know, I love the National Theatre in London. I think it is both smart and experimental, and displays the best of theatre almost each time. And this is why I believe this version of Antigone was nevertheless useful, although I was not thrilled. Continue to take risks and offer us challenging theatrical moments, you get it right most of the times, even though unfortunately, not this time, I believe

 

Antigone, by Sophocles, in a version by Don Taylor

Directed by Polly Findlay

National Theatre, Olivier Theatre, London

Until 21 July 2012

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A very actual present | Resisting the present, MAMVP, Paris

A very actual present | Resisting the present, MAMVP, Paris | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

An exhibition on contemporary Mexican artists? Good, excellent idea, I thought

 

Entering, one is struck by a Shiharu Shiota-like attack of dusty kites, that I mistook for dustbin bags on ropes. Symbol of the rebels during the Mexican Independence War (1810-1821), the kites, in Arturo Hernandez Alcazar's installation, are as symbolic as some of the US symbols in Matthew Day-Jackson work. Next, Bayrol Jimenez' drawings - on the wall, the floor and papers - seems like a Toile de Jouy. Getting closer, one realises the extreme violence of the whole composition, which we have to cross to continue the visit. Hint at the US-Mexican border, and the complex relationships between the two countries?

 

This exhibition is extremely promising. A video by Alejandro Jodorowsky, shows La Marcha de las Calaveras organised in 2011 to allow fellow Mexicans to mourn their countrymates killed in the drug war. Some scenes look like abstracts from Scream, but why wouldn't they? Further up, one progresses towards Hector Zamora's credibility crisis - or a wind rose blowing air in multiple directions. A metaphor for the lack of decisiveness of governments in the current worldwide crisis?

 

Jorge Mendez Blake's El Castillo, showing a copy of Kafka's book imprisoned in a brick wall, itself sticking together without any sort of glue or cement, appears to me a representation of the true understanding of Kafka's work. Next, Ilan Liberman's Nino perdido creates almost the same feelings as the Children Memorial in Yad Vashem. The emotion has been growing in this exhibition - and is now at the highest. What a great idea! What a great team of curators! I want to fly to Mexico right now

 

Lighter, but probably only superficially, Jodorowsky (again) Tweets beam Kipling type of advice on a black wall. My favourite: "Ce qui est necessaire, un jour sera possible". I have now decided I want to meet Jodorowsky

 

Pushing us back in emotional territory, Nicolas Pereda's beautiful video Entrevista con la Tierra makes us reflect on our acceptance of death, showing how two Mexican children react to it. After crossing the black video room, Minerva Cuevas' Rio Bravo Crossing. Or a Mexican and politically engaged version of my dear Richard Long

 

Juan Pablo Macias reinvents the books. Printed on black sandpaper, these anarchists' books aim at destroying neighbouring books, and themselves, if put on a bookshelf. What an interesting idea!

 

There is too much left to talk about everything. Mariana Castillo Deball is pulling an Orozco. Jonathan Hernandez collages could help the next season of Lie to me. Marcela Armas' I-Machinarius stands half way between Delvoye's Machine a Caca and Kapoor's wax installation at the London Royal Academy two years ago. Loads of films and installations on the drug war and the political situation

 

The palm of third degree is awarded to Adriana Lara's Art Film I: Ever present, yet ignored, where teenagers comment a non-existing art exhibition. Witty at the highest, and in Italian!

 

Close to the exit, the Femur de elefante mexicano, piece of Jonathan Hernandez and Pablo Sigg, inspired by Marcel Broodthaers, asks the question: Comment peut-on etre un elephant mexicain?

 

One rarely hears about Mexican art outside Mexico. Of course, there is the Slim museum and a couple of fairs, but on average, Mexican contemporary seems less the flavour of the month than the Brazilian or Chinese / Indian / Pakistanese. Hopefully this will be rebalanced after this insightful exhibition

 

Resisting the Present, Mexico 2000-2012

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris

Until 8 July 2012

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La semaine dernière (week 23)

La semaine dernière (week 23) | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

J'ai aimé:

- Finca Cortesin, in Casares, Andalusia - or paradise in Southern Spain. Unclear where to start with: my bedroom, almost larger than my flat in Paris; the bathroom, with an impressive shower cubicle; the view, overlooking the golf course and the surrounding mountains; the two pools, with one 50m adult-only excellent for laps; the delicious restaurant, with all Spanish specialties; the spa, with state-of-the-art gym equipment and top notch therapists; the room goodies, with a flower pot with chocolate lolipops, so nice when back from a rough night in neighbouring Marbella. The list could be lengthened for another three pages, but the simplest things is to book yourself in Finca Cortesin for the next three-day break you want to make

- my lunch with Roger, Fiona, Hilary and Camille - cherchez l'intruse (s)....

- the new Dan Colen exhibition at Gagosian - the thirty year-old New York artist opened on Sunday at Gagosian Paris. A nice selection of young and beautiful people but more importantly, a very impressive installation in the main ground floor gallery of this impressive space: tar and feathers everywhere, Colen has transformed his usual paintings to now occupy the whole space. Just an idea: would he not have been more impressive than Buren at Monumenta? Maybe for one of the next few years?

- the Helmut Newton exhibition - I did not want to go (why? I don't know) but ended up there just a few days before the end. Remarkable photos, with particular mentions to some of late fashion shoots (according to Newton, a fashion photo should look like anything BUT a fashion photo - and he applies this to jimself marvelously well) and the ones where models throw liquids or blow smoke at each other's faces

- le Caffè, newcomer in the Costes galaxy, opened by Thierry Costes rue du Colisée. Funnily located in a rather awful string of supermarket and run down shops, the Caffè nice design stands out immediately. Nice food, gentle service - even if a bit overwhelmed at the arrival of the first celeb around - only slight disappointment is that, with such a name, I would have expected an Italian menu... Special prize for the humongous cafe gourmand, 9 sweet samples in total


Je n'ai pas aimé:

- La Terrazza Fiat - on a quiet Sunday afternoon with a good friend, we decided to sit down there and get a coffee. What sounded initially like a low-hassle idea ended up like the ultimate assault course. 10 minutes to get someone to take the order - and we had to beg. I then ordered a macchiato: "Vous le faites bien à l'Italienne c'est ca?", i.e. without the disgusting quantity of milk that people pour in noisettes this side of the Alps. Schiuma solo, per favore. Coffee is a serious thing, you know, especially when one bears high the Italian colours, like the Terrazza Fiat. My coffee arrived, soaked in milk. And when I point out to the waitress that in MY Italy, macchiatos are not done like this, she fights back saying she was Italian. Unfortunately, me too. She is stunned. But not her boss, come to the rescue, who comments that if I am not 100% Italian, then I am not! Nice Kantian vision from an Italian bartender on a rainy Parisian Sunday. Avoid!


Je n'ai pas tranché sur:
- Cobea. It was very much talked about... I finally managed to book a table there. Had no idea what to expect. First impression is not great: nice views of the kitchen but a horrendous lighting and a decoration that looks like my provincial notary and his pharmacist wife's favourite place. Food is inventive but a bit chi-chi (splashes of this, dots of that everywhere on the plate). Excellent foie gras and pigeonneau, average crab and asparagus - not bad, but was expecting better. Funnily, a seemingly very active American met at a gallery lunch on Sunday told me she has made Cobea one of her favourite places in Paris! Tous les gouts sont donc vraiment dans la nature....

- La Delicatesse, de David Foenkinos - un film qui commence par la mort de Pio Marmai, c'est bof. Ensuite, Audrey Tautou, on dirait toujours qu'elle fait Amélie Poulain. Ce qui sauve? L'esthetisme du bureau et Francois Damiens, bien mieux la qu'en bistrotier frontalier

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Des Lupercales cosmogoniques | Mademoiselle Julie, Theatre de l'Odeon, Paris

Des Lupercales cosmogoniques | Mademoiselle Julie, Theatre de l'Odeon, Paris | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

Le rideau s'ouvre, ou plutot ne s'ouvre pas. Claustrophobes, s'abstenir, la scene est encapsulée, coupée en deux dans le sens de la longueur. Premier plan une cuisine minimaliste avec un coin salon très années 70. Arrière-plan une forêt de troncs dans un salon. Tout est blanc, onirique. La forêt est un rêve de Penone, éclairée par Morellet. Le décor est réussi, très réussi

Begging, version Pilooski remix, passe en sourdine. Des corps s'agitent dans le salon du fond. Christine, la servante, prépare quelque chose dans la cuisine. On cherche en vain Juliette Binoche, sur le nom de laquelle la salle a sans nul doute été remplie ce soir. Nicolas Bouchaud vient parler à Christine. D'emblée on est dérangés par la scène sans savoir pourquoi. La mise en scène nous installe en voyeurs, même la conversation de cuisine nous parvient atténuée. On est en 1874 en Suède mais rien de permet de le dire. Les costumes, on y est désormais habitués au théatre, font le jeu de l'intemporalité. Le texte aussi, ici, est résolument contemporain, ou plutôt atemporel

La Binoche rentre dans la cuisine pour "le" draguer, selon un processus stylistique voulu par Strindberg consistent à désigner souvent ses personnages comme universalités. On finit par être mal à l'aise de voir ces corps - que l'on apprend être les domestiques du comte, lui même père de Mademoiselle Julie-Binoche - danser à l'arrière-plan. On croirait être au bal des Laze, version Austin Powers remixée de Magicien d'Oz, avec un lapin scruteur et un tipi marcheur, dont on ne comprend pas l'intérêt, pourtant bien réel. Sauf que c'est Jane qui invite le domestique à danser. On pressent qu'une catastrophe est sur le point d'arriver. Un monde est sur le point de se renverser. Façon Gattopardo. Plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes

La catastrophe n'arrive pas. Ou plutôt elle met 2 heures pour arriver

Bouchaud est comme d'habitude sublime, même s'il joue parfois à être Lucchini. Ni trop ni trop peu, ultra crédible, même physiquement, dans ce rôle de domestique humilié par une fille finalement pas si différente de lui. Binoche aussi est sublime, malgré ses trop nombreux bafouillages - that just cannot be on purpose. Bénédicte Cerutti se révèle au fur et à mesure que son personnage s'émancipe

Julie et Jean sont bien l'Homme et la Femme. Lui est le valet qui veut s'échapper de sa condition mais en préfère finalement le confort - quelle libération quand le comte rentre, quand il sonne! Elle est le théâtre de la lutte entre son père et sa mère, si différents. Deux visions du monde. Pic de La Mirandole n'est pas loin: l'homme est le lieu de la lutte de tous les mondes

Il y a aussi tout le 18e siècle français dans ce texte de Strindberg: l'échange maîtres-valets de Beaumarchais, la remise en cause - pourtant trop timide - du modèle des classes sociales de Laclos et de Montesquieu, le rôle du candide qui commente sa propre histoire, de Voltaire. C'est peut-être ça le problème du texte de Strindberg. Il est universel et en même temps très Révolution des Lumières

Au final, Fisbach a fait un travail remarquable sur ce texte, malgré tout un peu faible. On gardera l'idée de Strindberg - la révolution à Downton Abbey, pas sa lettre, le jeu des acteurs, la mise en scène, les lumières, le décor, les partis pris. Et on rêvera aux mêmes ingrédients, mais peut-être sur un texte de Koltès, de Hamsun, ou sur une création osée

Mademoiselle Julie
Théatre de l'Odéon, place de l'Odéon, Paris
Jusqu'au 24 juin 2012

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Deception and disappointment | Monumenta 2012

Deception and disappointment | Monumenta 2012 | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

Monumenta is a funny thing. Every year, it is a challenge thrown to one of the supposedly greatest living contemporary artists, to see if they can cope with the majesty of le Grand Palais. This monument of the industrial revolution, a tribute to Eiffel and to the again trendy Glasgowian types of construction, la beauté en plus, has to become the latest place in Paris where the general public can get acquainted with contemporary art

 

Since last year, there is an additional element that plays an important role in Monumenta. It is the sun. For those who have seen Kapoor last year, the sun was probably the most influential element on the piece. As such, the opening night was a disaster – no sun by definition! This year, the organisers (or the artists) have decided, at night, to replace the sun with artificial spots dancing in le Grand Palais. Smart!

 

This year it is Buren. Unlike Boltanski (Boltan-qui?), Serra or even Kapoor, Buren is well known by the public. For two reasons. The rather idotic Colonnes du Palais Royal (actually called Le Double Plateau, which is much less idiotic once one understands what is behind the work: an overground representation of the underground of Paris in the pretty historical place that the Palais-Royal is). And his reported surprising support during the most recent French presidential elections

 

Here I am, under the sun, outside the Grand Palais. They have changed the entrance compared to the previous years. Why? Willingness of the artist to occupy all the space and force visitors to range from one end to the other, I will learn later

 

As I enter into cette autre Grande Dame, I start understanding. What is Monumenta this year? An empty Grand Palais with four soft-coloured patches. Not all of the same size but all at the same height. At least it seems as the small differences in height look like an approximation – and hopefully cannot only be explained by technical issues

 

The gist of Monumenta is to occupy the space. What Buren has done, he has reduced the space so that he can occupy it better. I had adored the Serra and the Boltanski performances, found the Kapoor one average, probably because of bad circumstances when I saw it - never go to a Monumenta vernissage, see above, you will miss the sun. The Buren one is mediocre. Just mediocre. At best. So it seems

 

But let's explore further. It is early in the morning, and I am supposed to meet one of the facilitators. I am happy that the sun is shining. The heat is already suffocating. I am told though that it is not too warm yet...

 

This whole scenery is putting me in an awful mood, and everything the guide says - although she is, like every year, nice and well prepared - reinforces this. Buren, reportedly, has chosen the height of his plastic lollipops as the average height of a Parisian flat. The colour algorithm is totally ununderstandable though, despite being explained in detail

 

As I start wandering within the Grand Palais, my mood is getting better. The sunny part of the space is much hotter but much nicer than the shadowy one. I can start feeling things - is it not the overarching principle of art after all? The clearing, with its mirrors stuck on the floor which are the continuation of the lollipop algorithm, is also nice. The cafeteria is also quite stunning to say the truth

 

The optical illusions resulting from light and perspectives are, too. But overall, artistically, it is quite poor, in my view. What is the artist’s message? No idea. Playing on illusions, shattering perspectives. Fine. But are there not several layers in understanding a work of art? Especially when it comes to contemporary

 

Nevertheless I think about Mika. Austin Powers. Les correspondances baudelairiennes (this is rather an incredible compliment)

 

I still stay for a while, for this whole installation, although unimpressive, has managed to create some sort of cosy feeling, and this, despite the zillion of people who have now entered the space. Can it be after all that Buren’s objective was to create the contemporary version of the agora? The only thing that is forbidden, I am told, is children’s trotinettes. All the rest is allowed. Maybe...

 

In summary, the facilitator, once more, has done a top job. But the work is nevertheless not up to scratch I believe as it does not create enough feelings or questions. Let’s wait for next year’s edition with Russian couple Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Not extremely well known outside Russia, where they are superstars and the first living artists to have had an exhibition in St Petersburg’s Hermitage, they plan to work on utopia. Why not? They have produced The House of Dreams, look like a couple of matriochkas and may very well provide the renouveau that Monumenta will be after...

 

Daniel Buren Monumenta

Grand Palais, Paris

Until 21 June 2012

 

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La semaine dernière (week 21)

La semaine dernière (week 21) | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

J'ai aimé:

- Bérénice Marlohe: souvenez-vous "On n'va quand meme pas depenser si peu" avec une moue tellement degoutée qu'on serait presque d'accord. La pétasse de la pub pour voitures (mais laquelle déjà?) est la prochaine James Bond Girl. Je ne sais pas pour vous, mais moi je m'étais bien sur rendu compte qu'elle avait quelque chose

- Dark Shadows - and above all what I did not like, what the frustrated papers committed by some critics (eg Le Point), along the lines of: "What is happening to Tim Burton?". Witty, fun, full of nice findings, it is also a good opportunity to see the somptuous Eva Green, counter-employed, and to (re-)discover Chloe Grace Moretz (already seen in Scorsese's Hugo Cabret) and Bella Heathcote in a most disturbing Victoria

- les critiques theatrales de Philippe Tesson dans le Figaro Magazine - il n'aime pas les pièces en général (en tous cas quand je lis ses critiques), mais il sait pourquoi, et ses raisons sont toujours intelligentes - c'est suffisamment rare pour être souligné. Cela dit, à chaque fois, ça me donne quand même envie d'aller les voir!

- Toyo, the Japanese-ish restaurant opened last year by Kenzo ex-chef rue Jules Caplain in Paris, off boulevard Raspail - very interesting type of fusion / Japanese with a Western influence, food. Special mention for their particular type of cherry tomatoes - an absolute delight with scallops - and their more-tender-than-one-would-dream-for faux-fillet, with all sorts of vegetables. Good, yet quite unknown, address

- Life in 873 images, which I believe is the Bingo video commercial, and has started to get viral on the web this week. A very well made little film. Watch on Time To Sign Off (www.timetosignoff.com/video/id=32059)

- Les Inrocks - had not talked about it for a while, and felt I needed to. One of the best magazines available in France. Of course, clearly politically-oriented, but whoever does not share the same ideas can just skip the few articles that would make Marianne and Libé seems like far-right defenders. Otherwise, the Inrocks's free tone, extensive cultural topics and its many discoveries, every week, make it an absolute must-read. Let's hope Matthieu Pigasse, the owner, who is taking over this week as editor-in-chief after the departure of David Kessler for the government, will keep it intact. Only reservation: the iPad app is not yet a match to the paper version

- the photos from Leos Carax' Holy Motors, in the purest Hopper tradition, that of an unworried America. Even though most of those who have seen the film report it is not up to stratch


Je n'ai pas aimé:

- the seats on the Helsinki-Paris Finnair flight - with a huge metallic bar in the middle, even in business (probably as bad as the Qantas A380 business seats or the old Lufthansa First seats)


Je n'ai pas tranche sur:

- Une séparation by Asghar Farhadi, with Peyman Moadi, Leila Hatami and Shahab Hosseini - great actors, great scenario - both foreign and intimate - but something rings weird. The tone of the actors? Some improbable bits in the scenario? The picture of Iran?

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Wearing one's soul outside | Gillian Wearing, Whitechapel Gallery, London

Wearing one's soul outside | Gillian Wearing, Whitechapel Gallery, London | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

"Why not join as a member?" says to me the rather overlooked (in both meanings) guy at the entrance. Good idea indeed, just become a friend of the Whitechapel Gallery, one of the most interesting places in London and probably the only membership I did not have yet

 

Gillian Wearing is this YBA-born, Turner-prize winner photographer/video artist whose pictures are all over the underground these days, with a policeman carrying a “Help” board. Striking and mysterious. Decided I wanted to know more

 

Bully, a film by Wearing, premiers in this exhibition in the UK. Eastenders meets Prison Break. First example of diversion - the bully is crying after having insulted a number of people around. Interesting way to enter Wearing's universe. Another TV set shows what could have been the ancestor of the lip dub. One question that has nothing to do with Wearing springs to my mind: why is it that video artists always show their works in 80s TV sets? Or iPad? What about the 90s and the 00s??

 

Still in Gallery 1, Wearing impersonates her sleeping grandmother in a film as static as a picture. Sort of Cindy Sherman 2.0.

 

Upstairs, the famous series: Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say. Beyond the signs, an fabulous portrait of early 90s England. Interestingly, most of these unspoken signs are an expression of sadness and pessimism, even for people taken in nice surroundings. A few lovers, a few music players. Some pairs - or couples - have a sign for two. What does this mean? Some address Wearing herself ("What a lovely girl" held by an aged grinning man). Some are circumstantial ("Give me a job pls"), some more profound ("I hate this world"). In some, you can hear their holder ("I signed on and they would not give me nothing"). Amusing to see that on the exhibition advertisement, the photos that are shown are almost exclusively those of despair ("Help", "I am desperate"). Even at the Whitechapel and for one of the greatest living British artists, ads have to be eye-catching...

 

Upstairs still, in Gallery 8, more films and more experiments on identity. More Cindy Sherman type of photos, except that Wearing creates masks representing her actual and spiritual family; unlike Sherman she does not try to become them. Interesting differences. Funnily Wearing as Warhol looks like a scarred (no typo!) Betty Catroux. The portrait of her in Claude Cahun is particularly well done. The mask Cahun holds of Wearing face

 

The confession booths are also quite striking, although by the time one gets there, the pattern of Wearing works has become more than obvious

 

Across the corridor, a selection of 12 works owned by and exhibited at Number 10. Big disappointment here. Average figurative paintings, antique "by the studio of", the selection is not great. Only worth mentioning is the John Wood and Paul Harrison video of Twenty Six (Drawing and Falling Things). And perhaps the Pathway through Park oil by Mike Silva. I missed the first two parts of this four-stage exhibition - but I am not sure anymore if this was a big miss...

 

Outside, all I can remember is Wearing’s pieces. Such an interesting work on identity, appearances and masks that one could wonder if Wearing is really Wearing real name, or if she has decided to wear it, as apparently all things in live have a double meaning. Or a double entendre...

 

Gillian Wearing, Whitechapel Gallery, London, Until 17 June 2012

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La semaine dernière (week 19)

La semaine dernière (week 19) | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

J'ai aimé:
- Blend, the best hamburgers I have tested so far. Multiple options - with sundried tomatoes and fennel, or fresh spinach and molten blue cheese. A-ma-zing. Arrive early as v small but try it. 44 rue d'Argout, Paris 2e
- le Prénom (What's in a Name, in english), by Mathieu Delaporte and Alexandre de La Pateliere. Film based on eponymous year-long theatrical success, which I refused to see in the theatre as I was not thrilled by the pitch (a family discussion around the first name of a newly born turning sour). So much better than that, with excellent cast, Berling, Bruel, Benguigui and Judith El Zein, with Guillaume de Tonquedec as best espoir
- Anahi, the reputation of which is not new. But I never tried it. Argentine restaurant in the heart of Paris (49 rue Volta, 3e, between Turbigo and rue Saint-Martin), wonderful sea bass ceviche (as good as in Cartagena, Colombia), specifically recommend the Argentine baby-beef. No need for sides, totally self-sufficient. And perfect place even for those on a Dukan diet
- the opening of Scenes de Lin rue de Grenelle - I have been a regular in their Gueliz shop for a while, especially for the two-days turnaround of bespoke colourful linen tablecloths and napkins. The good (or bad) news now is that I won't have to go all the way to Marrakesh to get a new table set
- Russian Red, a Spanish pop artist, née Lourdes Hernandez, recorded with Belle and Sebastian musicians - a peculiar and very interesting atmosphere half-country half-Twin Peaks
- the new Monocle x Fog Linen Work tray set and the Johanna Gullischen linen cloths. Check out the Marylebone Monocle shop - anyway, always worth it. But particularly this month. The two trays are wonderful in a guest bedroom for water and mini-toiletries - and the Finnish cloths (pictured), which look as made to match but are not, will look very smart in your bulthaup kitchen
- the UK commercial for thinkbox.com - not sure what it is, but the mini-film is very funny, and the dog so entertaining! Imagine a good-looking dog having fun with its best friend, a cuddly rabbit. And multiply the fun by 2. You are almost there
- Bref, j'ai un nouveau pote - and the whole series of Bref, je suis dans la merde. Back at the level of fun of the first episodes. Undescribable. Almost worth learning French to be able to understand them
- tokyobike, the recent Shoreditch offshoot of Yanaka, Tokyo-based, independent bicycle company - from the outside, it could be a sharp concept store or a delicious cupcake seller, but hardly a cycling shop. Bicycles are beautiful and the whole shop would almost make me feel like cycling (and that's a feat!) (87 Tabernacle Street, London EC2)
- Folk, a Brick Lane / Shepherd Market / Holborn clothing shop, with an offshoot in Munich, which offers nice and original pieces for casual wear, in well designed shop. Particularly nice are the summer shoes, with a large, white sole

 

Je n'ai pas tranché sur:
- Sebastien Tellier - one has to be gutsy - or an excellent marketing pro - to write a song in adoration of the Pepito bleu (you know, the milk chocolate ones, which have been often imitated but never matched). Deliciously regressive album (My God is blue is excellent) for bobos branches. But with a feeling of incompleteness, somehow

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La semaine derniere (week 18)

La semaine derniere (week 18) | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

J'ai aimé:
- the best exotic Marigold Hotel - a totally feel good Sunday night film, where Maggie Smith (my idol) is as grand as a housekeeper as she is as a dowager countess in Downton Abbey
- Lucy Kellaway's Lunch with the FT with Werner Erhard - so witty. I want to be Lucy Kellaway in a second life. She is always SO spot on
- Juvia, the latest addition to Miami's restaurant and nightlife scene, corner of Lincoln and Aston. Top floor, half outdoor, lots of babes, delicious cuisine, OK wines and an uncomparable atmosphere. Need to book well in advance though
- Racines 2, rue de l'Arbre Sec in Paris. First time I was unconvinced by the staff, came back and was right: their canard de Chalans is a delight, and staff has warmed up. A good, not overpriced, address in the heart of Paris
- the new bread in the London Eurostar lounge - a detail, but soft, delicious, seed bread, mostly available on the top floor
- RAP, aka Ristorante Alessandra Pierini, an Italian restaurant in the Martyrs area in Paris (rue Rodier). Incredible pasta all'amatriciana, so rare outside Italy, burrata that could have been eaten in Puglia and very inventive osso buco, all with a staff that goes out of its way to please. Will be perfect once they take off the "Restaurant" board outside
- Il Bordello, a longstanding Wapping (London) pizzeria, recently discovered: ueber-kitsch with repros of Lempicka paintings all over the walls and waiters' already made bow ties, but delicious pizze and fresh products for antipasti
- the wonderful Joint-Venture service from Apple: for a couple of hundreds a year, you jump every queue in every Apple store, have a dedicated helpline and great tutorials (www.jointventure.apple.com)

Je n'ai pas aime
- Lafayette Gourmet - aka Grand Central Station on boulevard Haussman. No italian deli food, half empty shelves, no Fage Greek yoghurts (the European discovery of the moment) and overripe fruit. Unimpressive

Je n'ai pas tranché sur:
- Metronome, la serie, by Lorant Deutsch. Great book turned multi episode documentary, the TV show does not deliver the promises of the book. And the pseudo historical shootings are grotesque

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DeVito brings Sunshine to London | The Sunshine Boys, London

DeVito brings Sunshine to London | The Sunshine Boys, London | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

I first have to apologise for not having written a piece in the last two months. I was working on a new website - soon to be released - and also moving home, which will give me the opportunity to post something on the real assault course of moving in the next few weeks...

Went back to the wonderful Savoy Theatre last night. Few people, I realise, are aware that the Savoy is not only one of the - newly redone - flagship hotels of London and now a very good restaurant - the Savoy Grill - but also puts up a most charming theatre. Just on the right of the entrance door of the hotel. Busy night, as many traffic jams in the queue as on the neighbouring Strand

Tonight, Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths perform in The Sunshine Boys, by Neil Simon. The cocktail seems at first most unpleasant. DeVito is the Kobold-like evil character starring in the Zemeckis 80s saga with Turner and Douglas who impersonates the Pinguin in the Batman series, although when one looks him up on IMDb, LA Confidential and One flew over the cuckoo's nest pop up. Gros et gras, I think, not only physically, but spiritually

Simon's play revolves around a broken duo of comedians who end up hating each other's guts. Not very original. Only Griffiths would perhaps contribute to win me, before I enter the theatre. He was the stage partner of Daniel Ratcliffe, of Harry Potter fame, in his theatre debut, the wonderfully sensational Equus, a few years ago. The Sunshine Boys is also DeVito's theatre debut. A voir...

Soon after the beginning, I start being convinced. DeVito is a fantastic actor - and a fantastic comedian. He sounds right at all times, and is hilarious, even when he mistakingly unplugs a TV set. Griffiths - who must have put on about 20 kilos since Equus, or I was sitting further behind then - is an excellent sparring partner, but is somewhat eclipsed by Danny. The first act is an uninterrupted continuation of witty jokes and fun situations

Things are getting worse in the second act, where we are supposed to finally see the performance - very Pirandell-esque - that brought fame and glory to the Sunshine Boys. I have to say they are much funnier when they fight in real life - enfin, on stage - than in their own theatre. A buxom prostitute-turned-nurse, a very average misunderstanding, some unwanted arguments between the protagonists, all of this does not manage - and how would it? - to make us forget the excellent first act

I don't know why, in the plays currently on stage in London, the second acts are always a catastrophe. The Duchess of Malfi, at the Old Vic, is a good example. The second act is grotesque. "This is why Webster is not Shakespeare", a friend of mine told me. And she was right. Not much better for O'Neill's however excellent A Long Day's Journey into the Night, with David Suchet, of Poirot fame. The Sunshine Boys follows the same rule. Poor second act

However, there is a third act here, which is very much of the calibre of the first, with an additional touch of emotion. A fat nurse is introduced on stage, seems all the characters of this play have to be enormous! The wit is back

The end, which I did not see coming - and which I of course will not tell here - is well found and well played, and wraps up the whole play nicely. As we exit, I wonder: why has DeVito lost himself in the cinema before embracing his real career? And why don't we have the pleasure to see more American actors on stage in London?

The Sunshine Boys
The Savoy Theatre, The Strand, London
Until 28 July 2012

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Féminine oblique et féministe parée | Artemisia Gentileschi, Musée Maillol, Paris

Une amie m'a appelé récemment pour me dire qu'elle en avait un à vendre, ce qui a considérablement augmenté ma curiosité envers cette bonne Artemisia Gentileschi. Longtemps, me semble-t-il qu'il n'y avait pas eu d'exposition dédiée à cette grande artiste. Tout au plus sa fameuse Judith à la Royal Academy de Londres il y a quelques années, me semble-t-il

L'entrée de Maillol a changé. Elle est maintenant dans la cour. Une petite queue malodorante s'est formée le temps que j'aille me garer. Des gens resquillent, on est en France. Je downloade le guide sur iPhone, pour une fois ça marche, pas comme à la Pinacothèque. La moyenne d'âge de la queue est flippante

Je pénètre enfin dans la première salle...qui commence par les années napolitaines, c'est-à-dire les dernières, d'Artemisia. Le contrôleur de billets m'envoie au premier, marqué "suite de l'exposition"...qui en fait est le début chronologique. Je ne tire pas mon chapeau aux installateurs de cartels, mais je comprendrai plus tard que c'était voulu. Bizarre...

Les premiers tableaux, du père et professeur de la Jeanne d'Arc de la peinture, sont intéressants, mais l'exposition s'ouvre vraiment avec le Judith et Holopherne de Capodimonte de la Royal Academy. Tout est grand dans cette oeuvre, peut-être la plus connue d'Artemisia: la composition, ou plutôt les compositions, verticale et oblique; les couleurs, bleu profond et rouge transgressif; le calme et l'emoi apparents des femmes - Artemisia se souvient-elle là de son propre viol? -; ainsi que, d'un point de vue plus histoire de l'art, la rupture flagrante avec les techniques de son père. A 20 ans, avec cette Judith, Artemisia devient une adulte. Et l'exposition commence

Les trois Vierge allaitant sont un peu maladroites, et l'appli iPhone et les cartels sont en contradiction sur les dates. Pas grave. La visite se poursuit avec le sublime Autoportrait au luth, mélange accompli de lumière rubensienne et de composition caravagesque. Le tout à 25 ans. L'oblique joue toujours un rôle important, pour les armes de Judith ou les instruments de musique de Sainte-Cécile ou d'Artemisia elle-même, ou encore les corps même de Judith et d'Abra. Artemisia, la peintre de l'oblique

Outre les sujets féministes de la mythologie picturale, les portraits d'Artemisia font aussi ressortir sa féminité: la richesse des étoffes et la précision du rendu des bijoux sont exceptionnelles. Et la comparaison entre les portraits de pied de Simon Vouet et ceux d'Artemisia soulignent parfaitement ce qu'elle lui a emprunté, et comment elle s'est construite à partir de cet emprunt. Il semblerait que derrière chaque grande femme, il y ait aussi un grand homme. Ou plusieurs

Les nus sont moins enthousiasmants. Je comprends presque qu'on les cachât derrière un drap. La Madonnina in piccolo, en revanche, version ludique de la Madonne Esterhazy de Raphaël, présentée dans la petite salle du premier étage est absolument magnifique. Couplée avec une plaque de lapis lazuli d'Orazio, récemment découverte, c'est une explosion de maîtrise et d'expressivité accumulée dans la plus petite salle de l'exposition

Arrivé, ou plutot retourné, en bas, je comprends que le mic-mac chronologique est en effet voulu. On commence par le meilleur, disent les conservateurs, un peu comme un enfant mange ses pates avant les haricots verts. Mais a-t-il encore faim pour les haricots verts?

Les années napolitaines, à partir de 1630, sont les plus flamboyantes. Le Suzanne et les Vieillards de 1652, en pleine face de l'entrée, montre là encore une fascinante composition oblique, double cette fois. Une première oblique, bottom left to top right, unit les trois personnages. Une seconde, plus subtile, dans l'autre sens et cantonnée à la partie gauche du tableau, représente Suzanne

L'autoportrait du Palazzo Barberini, sorte de trophée revanchard mais sublime, rappelle immediatement Frida Kahlo, dont l'anniversaire aurait été cette semaine. La naissance de Saint Jean-Baptiste, pourtant grande figure masculine, est encore un moyen de célébrer les femmes, la mère, la servante, la favorite. La Minerve des Offices, dolente et en même temps violente, d'une modernité incroyable, tant par la couleur du drapé que par sa forme, qui semble presque être en pantalon, est malgré tout bijoutée comme une cocotte Napoleon III. Curieux mélange. Toute la salle du bas est superbe, mais je suis content d'avoir pris mes haricots verts d'abord...

Suzanne, Yaël, Cléopatre, Judith, Corisca, Lucrèce, Danaë, Madeleine, Artemisia a été cette femme libérée, peut-être la première, au 17ème siècle, fille rebelle, victime révoltée, qui a néanmoins révolutionné tous les milieux qu'elle a traversés, et laissé, jusqu'au 21ème siecle, et pour de nombreuses années encore, un parfum de transgression qui nous manque parfois aujourd'hui encore. Superbe exposition à aller voir d'urgence. Dernier week end

Artemisia Gentileschi
Musée Maillol, Paris
Jusqu'au 15 juillet 2012
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La semaine dernière (week 26)

J'ai aimé:
- la Cenerentola in Glyndebourne - une mise en scène impeccable de cet opera buffa de Rossini, avec une mention spéciale pour le baryton Armando Noguera, excellent Dandini
- l'universalité du théâtre - Juliette Binoche à la rentrée au Barbican dans Mademoiselle Julie, un festival de Shakespeare dans 38 langues à Londres pendant les Jeux Olympiques, Cate Blanchett à Paris en mars et à Londres en avril dans Grand et petit de Botho Strauss, les exemples se multiplient de pièces dans des langues étrangères présentées dans plusieurs pays
- Casa Olympe, merveilleux refuge d'Olympe Versini rue Saint-Georges à Paris, à l'emplacement de l'ancienne Casa Miguel, où la patronne servait des repas à cinq francs. Le premier chef femme étoilé dans les années 70 y sert une cuisine inventive et traditionnelle à la fois - goûtez les merveilleuses sardines ou la poêlée de girolles en entrée, les encornets à l'encre ou l'épaule d'agneau en plat. Et retournez-y
- Semilla, petit endroit sans prétention rue de Buci, où l'on prendra l'assiette - sans choix - des trois entrées, et un des trois plats au choix. Les entrées sont originales (crème de patate douc, rougaille de cristophine et compotée de roc), les plats bien exécutés - le colin aux herbes à la salade de tomates est délicieux

Je n'ai pas aimé:
- Adieu Berthe - l'affiche me tentait: Podalydès - qui en ce moment tente des choses, surtout au théâtre - et Valérie Lemercier - qui est tellement tout terrain, me disais-je, que même si le film est mauvais, elle le relèvera. Que nenni! Après 40 minutes de calembours et de non-comiques de situation, nous sommes partis

Je n'ai pas tranché sur:
- Le Louis 25 - en bas des Champs, l'espace est amusant, surtout la terrasse et la veranda l'été. A côté du célèbre hôtel construit en 1866 par la non moins célèbre Païva. La cuisine est décente, voire bonne (excellente salade Louis 25 au homard) - mais la clientèle qui s'y retrouve est pour le moins déroutante. Et vous fait vous sentir à la marge pour peu que vous n'embrassiez ni les serveurs, ni le patron
- Kaboul Kitchen - le pitch: Gilbert Melki est Jacky, le propriétaire du Kaboul Kitchen, seul endroit de fête et de débauche en une Kaboul en guerre. Le comique vient, ou doit venir, de la confrontation entre les principes afghans - religieux souvent - et la vie dissolue des clients du Kaboul Kitchen. Le cast est excellent, Melki en tête - exceptionnel! - mais il reste comme un petit sentiment dérangeant. Peut-on rire sur la guerre et sur la religion sans arrière-pensée?
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La semaine dernière (week 25)

La semaine dernière (week 25) | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

J'ai aimé:

- Parasol Unit (www.parasol-unit.org) - half-gallery, half-private foundation located on Wharf Road, off Old Street, in London, in a beautiful and versatile space. Purely financed by members. Shows high profile yet innovative artists such as Adel Abdessemed and David Claerbout most recently. Really deserves to have more members and visitors

- Curious Yellow Kafé aka I made it for you - on Pitfield Street in Shoreditch, a low key café where everything is litterally made for us by the owner, from the coffee, to the doorknobs for instance, which are recycled spoons, and the delicious cinnamon buns. Perfect for a chilled Sunday afternnon

- Suits - a fun, not well publicised TV series, where an ass-kicking lawyer hires a street smart genius posing as an Harvard graduate. Very witty, and for once, a series with no liters of haemoglobin

- Garbage, coming back 7 years after their last album, with Not your kind of people, the band, led by Shirley Manson, knows how to find again the road that led it to success a decade ago. Special prize to Blood for Poppies. A écouter d'urgence

- The Electrolux Cube with Claude Bosi - Bosi, from Hibiscus reputation, cooked for us on top of Royal Festival Hall, in the Electrolux cube. A whole experience which I will tell in an article very soon. But in the meantime, book the whole table or a couple of seats. In London until 30 September (www.electrolux.co.uk)

- Vinicio Capossela - discovered in Les Inrocks, one of my favourite French magazines and clearly the best one for music, this Italian unidentified musical object signs his thirteenth album. Three quarter Italian, one quarter something else, this is some unusual feel good music. Definitely to download on your iPod before heading out to Formentera or Patmos

- the Trip the Light video by Matt Harding - "but where the hell is Matt?". Dancing! This video, shot by Matt and his wife around the world, until then unknown, is not only fun and well made, it is also a wonderful message of hope. Better to discover it on Time to Sign Off (www.timetosignoff.com)


Je n'ai pas tranché sur

- the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2012 - the number of pieces, at any price, that I liked, could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Disappointing year, with always the random £200 Tracey Emin vulgar print sold 150 times in the first hour...

- the Wapping Project - exceptional decor and space, so why on earth does the chef want to sacrifice good cuisine to trendy cuisine. The onglet with yoghurt and coffee powder on top may sound a good idea on paper but hum.... Same for the squid (a soup?) or the suboptimal mozzarella di buffala. Dommage

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La semaine dernière (week 24)

La semaine dernière (week 24) | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

J'ai aimé:

- Electric Guest - a Los Angeles band discovered at S x SW this year with This Head I Hold. Wonderful!

- Marco Pierre White Grill, on Middlesex Street - quietly tucked in the middle of Shoreditch, this basement restaurant is an efficient alternative to the Boundary-type of the City, with nice asparagus, steak and Portobello mushrooms

- The Hawksmoor - another nice alternative to the usual City restaurant, with a nice and new Art Deco bar downstairs - with meatless nibbles - and a fantastic meat menu on the ground floor (up to one kilo per steak...)

- Airnadette - or the ultimate lip dub. Seeing this troup of crazy guys and girls (not always easy to determine who is what) is a delight, and a fun moment. Singing on Mireille Matthieu ou Enrico Matthias, they show off an energetic and fun choregraphy

- L'Affriolé, rue Malar dans le 7ème à Paris - délicieux petit endroit au coeur du 7ème bon ton. Toutes les attentions sont bonnes: les radis au gros sel sur la table en arrivant, les plats du jour régime, le café gourmand avec des fruits, le patron qui vous remet votre col de veste. Ça a l'air tellement moderne qu'on ne penserait pas qu'ils ont refait la salle il y a deux ans. A conseiller. Vraiment

- Androuet, in Spitalfields - seven years I have been working in Spitalfields, twenty-five years I discovered the croquettes Marie-Harel (l'inventeur du camembert si besoin est de préciser), and I had no clue that Androuet was in Spitalfields. They don't have all the cheese you like (no dolce latte, no tête de moine, limited selection of goat cheese) but staff is adorable and what they have is delicious. And it is very clean. And they serve lunch. What else?

- Grayson Perry - this British cross-dressing artist, well known in the UK, and winner of the turner Prize in 2003, is specifically renowned for his ceramic vases. He also was Boy George's flatmate some decades ago. He has just committed a series of tapestries, the Vanity of Small Differences, wonderfully witty and very colourful, on show at the Victoria Miro gallery in Shoreditch until 11 August. My favourite: The Upper Classes at Bay (pictured)


Je n'ai pas aimé:

- the new Zagat newsletter - where are the new openings, the witty comments and the useful addresses? Gone. Replaced with curious lists. Rendez-nous notre Zagat

- the arts desk's critique of Polisse. Can't comment on it as it was so dumb and such a mistake in understanding this great film, that I forgot it instantaneously

- Victoria Miro gallery - the Grayson Perry exhibition is great, the space is great, but the gallery clerk who is holding the shop in the weekends should try to learn how to differentiate between the Sunday passer-by, and the serious art collector. Too bad...

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Le dernier des héros picaresques | Peer Gynt, Comedie Francaise, Grand Palais, Paris

Le dernier des héros picaresques | Peer Gynt, Comedie Francaise, Grand Palais, Paris | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

Une pièce dans le Salon d'Honneur du Grand Palais? Je ne crois pas y avoir déjà assisté. Ou peut-être est-ce là que mon ami ADS organise ses procès culturistes?

En fait, non. Arrivés comme si nous allions voir une exposition, il nous faut monter tout en haut, par un escalier, pour nous retrouver dans ce qui a l'air à première vue d'un entrepôt. Par les interstices des panneaux de fortune installés là pour l'occasion, on aperçoit Monumenta, qu'un odieux vigile nous empêche de regarder. Une autre perspective. Les gens trouvent leur chemin. On commence en retard. L'organisation est moyenne: les portes ouvrent à 18.30 et sont censées fermer à 18.45. Les organisateurs ont-ils seulement pensé qu'il fallait plus d'un quart d'heure pour faire monter le demi-millier, peut-être plus, de personnes qui assisteront ce soir à Peer Gynt, par la troupe de la Comédie Française?

La scène est longue, très longue, de bout en bout du salon d'honneur. Elle est proche des spectateurs, si proche qu'étant assis au premier rang, je l'atteins en étendant mes jambes. D'autant que les comédiens ne se limitent pas à la scène. D'emblée, on songe à un voyage initiatique. Quelle meilleure pièce que Peer Gynt sur une scène qui, physiquement, semble traverser la vie?

Ça commence. Hervé Pierre et l'admirable Catherine Samie rentrent en scène. Pierre a une soixantaine d'années, dans la pièce il en a tout juste seize. Mais qu'importe, il sonne vrai, tout comme sa mère dont la différence d'âge avec son personnage est tout aussi criante, et importante compte tenu du sujet. Ils sont vrais. Ce sont Peer et Åse Gynt

Au début, on est un peu dérouté par l'impact de l'organisation physique de la scène sur le spectacle. Des micros sur les acteurs semblent faire toujours venir leur voix du même poteau. Ils courent partout, pour être vus de tous. Mais on réalise vite que la mise en scène joue sur cet espace irréel, et en fait un des avantages principaux de cette merveilleuse représentation. Au lieu d'être seulement sur un poteau, les acteurs sont réellement partout

Tout de suite, l'intrigue s'enchaîne. Catherine Samie a de beaux yeux gentils. Ingrid me rappelle une amie. La musique rythme le tout de main de maître. Des sirènes apparaissent, telles les criminelles de Chicago. Tout le monde crie. Puis c'est le tour des Trolls. Les costumes, de Christian Lacroix, déjà renversants, deviennent éblouissants. Florence Viala, la fille du roi des Trolls ressemble à un tableau de Julie Heffernan dans la collection de Thomas Olbricht. J'en montre la photo (sur ce blog) à mes voisins, ils sont saisis. Son père, l'excellent Serge Bagdassarian, sait transformer son énorme embonpoint en bienheureux avantage. Ubu Roi à la Gay Pride. Une discussion merveilleuse, de Trolls, s'engage: "Grand a l'air petit". On est dans Ionesco, dans Beckett. Ils chantent. Ce sont les Précieuses Ridicules ou les réunions secrètes de Roxane dans Cyrano

Il y a d'ailleurs beaucoup de Cyrano dans ce Peer Gynt. Beaucoup de batailles, de tirades. C'est impossible bien sûr qu'Ibsen se soit inspiré de Rostand, qui n'a écrit sa pièce que 30 ans plus tard! A moins que ce ne soit l'inverse? La scène finale de Cyrano ("Ah vous voilà, tous mes vieux ennemis / Le mensonge, les préjugés, les compromis") résonne dans ma tête quand je vois Hervé Pierre, formidable minute après minute, se battre sur cette scène dont il devient maintenant clair qu'elle est rythmée par le chariot qui la parcourt de long en long, tantôt tracteur, tantôt char, plus tard bateau ou chariot de la mort

Il est déroutant de ne pouvoir appréhender le temps. Peer Gynt ne viellit pas. Serait-il l'ancêtre de Dorian Gray, écrit, lui aussi, presque 30 ans plus tard? Puis vient la première scène émouvante de cette épopée: la mort de Åse. Toujours souriante, toujours gentille, elle demande à mourir, non par dépit, mais parce que c'est dans l'ordre des choses. On voit Peer Gynt ému: le vaurien aimait-il finalement sa mère? Il faudrait le croire. Peer Gynt n'est peut-être pas si mauvais, commence-t-on à s'interroger. Le rideau tombe. On est à H+2. Il reste trois heures

Après une pause qu'on aurait voulu encore plus courte pour se replonger le plus vite possible dans cet univers onirique, on se rassoit. Stupeur - des spectateurs sont partis, notamment les deux amies fort bruyantes derrière moi. L'herbe est toujours plus verte ailleurs, elles seront remplacées par une intermittente du spectacle mangeant son casse-croute bruyamment pendant la pièce et draguant le célèbre metteur en scène de cinéma à côté duquel elle n'a pas fait par hasard de s'asseoir...

On est dans les années 20 - sauf que la pièce a été écrite en 1867. Peer Gynt, fortune faite - comment ? - est Monsieur Loyal, qui en met plein la vue à ses camarades. On est cette fois dans Beaumarchais ("Moi, il m'a fallu déployer plus de science et de calculs, pour subsister seulement, qu'on en a mis depuis cent ans à gouverner toutes les Espagnes") - ou dans l'épopée, extraordinaire elle aussi, du Général Sutter par Cendrars

Peer Gynt veut devenir Empereur. Il se prend pour Jacques Lebaudy, mais a priori a moins d'argent à perdre. Ce qui n'est pas le cas du metteur en scène qui nous enchante par une débauche de moyens, costumes, musiques, chants. On s'enfonce dans un univers de plus en plus dejanté qui nous paraît normal. Personne ne s'offusque en entendant des déclarations telles que: "Le lait de la chèvre angora est quand même moins doux que toi". Les fous deviennent normaux, on est dans la Rome antique, version Saturnales. On découvre l'Empire du Soi-Même, qui restera désormais le fil conducteur jusqu'à la fin. Et si Peer Gynt, version Ibsen, était plus qu'une formidable épopée?

Le rideau tombe à nouveau. Et vite, vite, se relève. Peer Gynt ruiné et veilli - personne ne le reconnaît - retourne en Norvège. C'est la loi des générations à lui tout seul. Il a créé, joui et dépensé. Et perdu. Il se compare à un oignon, qu'il épluche sur scène. Il traîne ses guêtres où il a grandi et où sa légende apparemment est intacte. On chante - on dirait Emilie Simon. On pense encore à Cyrano. Les discussions avec l'envoyé de la mort qui veut le mettre dans la cuillière sont étonnantes: par trois fois, Peer Gynt gagne! Et puis c'est fini. Comme Cyrano, il finit par perdre, après avoir tant bataillé, vécu mille vies, personnifié tous les grands personnages de la littérature, même ceux pas encore créés

C'est léger et profond, bouffon et triste, enjoué, drôle, servi par un Hervé Pierre véritablement exceptionnel et un troupe à l'avenant. Il n'y a pas de second rôles, tous sont essentiels. Eric Ruf a du génie de mise en scène. C'est physique. C'est artistique. Il y a tout dans cette version atypique de Peer Gynt, tant et si bien qu'on se demande comment on pourra encore la mettre en scène après

Malheureusement, les deux dernières représentations sont ce soir et demain, et sold out, mais si vous avez un moyen de trouver des places, passez votre journée à essayer. Ça vaut le coup. Bravo!

Peer Gynt, par la troupe de la Comédie Française
Salon d'Honneur du Grand Palais
Jusqu'au 14 juin 2012

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My 20th most subjective to do list

My 20th most subjective to do list | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

1) Order on Amazon "This means this, this means that", the first clear enough book on semiotics and cultural habits (Internet)
2) Get a subscription to Dasha Zhukova's new Garage Magazine (Russia or Internet)
3) Book a table in the brand new restaurant of Yannick Alleno in Paris, le Terroir Parisien, in the newly refurbished (by JM Wilmotte) Maison de la Mutualite (Paris)
4) Shop at Lubiam 1911 for ueber-stylish jackets and much more (Mantova or Milan, at Brian&Barry, via Durini)
5) Try NoMad, New York's latest addition to the boutique hotel crowd - only potential issue: was done by Jacques Garcia. Again! (New York)
6) Buy a colourful item - any item really: shawl, rug, cabinet or chair - by Scholten & Baijings (original store in Amsterdam, sold also in London, Milan and Tokyo, amongst others)
7) Organise my own cloud-based yet ultra-secure filing cabinet with www.mywealthcloud.com (membership based, Internet)
8) Download My God is blue, by Sebastien Tellier, and in particular, the very regressive Pepito Bleu (iTunes or other Internet)
9) Watch Margin Call, Chandor's first film, written in 4 days, shot in 13, with 3 million dollars and nominated at the Oscars (Netflix, iTunes later and elsewhere)
10) Buy Belgian shoes - you don't know what it is, no worries, www.belgianshoes.com (Internet)
11) Visit the latest exhibition of Chiharu Shiota, Labyrinth of Memory, in La Sucriere (Lyon, until 31 July 2012)
12) Book a week-end in Bruges, as an excuse to visit the latest Belgian restaurant made 3-star, Hertog Jan (le Duc Jean), by Gert de Mangeleer (Bruges)

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La semaine dernière (week 22)

La semaine dernière (week 22) | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

J'ai aimé:

- the Hyatt Paris' brunch at Les Orchidées. For three reasons. 1) How many brunches do you know which also take place on Saturdays? 2) How many brunches do you know which are automatically outside in a nice, sunny, quiet environment when the sun shines, without having to fight or arrive at 11am to get a proper table? 3) How many brunches do you know that have crudità di pesce so fresh that you believe you might as well be in Rome? Need any more reasons?

- On the Road, by Walter Salles, after Jack Kerouac's generation-defining novel. The director of Central do Brasil and The Motorcycle Diaries, heir to a Brazilian banking dynasty, has tried where Coppola, Gus Van Sant and Godard had renounced - render the spirit of Kerouac and Moriarty. The film is undescribable, but once you have watched it, like Kerouac, you will think of Dean Moriarty, you will think of Dean Moriarty

- Bread Street Kitchen - opposite Conran's Barbecoa and its high-end East End butcher's, lies a perfectly nice brasserie-type restaurant, with inventine cuisine. One of the Gordon Ramsay stable, it has wonderful ceviche, good main courses (grilled salmon, pork belly, burger) and is open late. Perfect for a post-Barbican evening

- King Charles - a sort of hybrid between the brunette from the Modern Talking duo, Michel Fugain Big Bazar and Yussuf Islam when he was still called Cat. Unclassifiable pieces, such as Mississippi Isabel or Love lust on his latest album, LoveBlood. A écouter d'urgence

- The Queen Diamond Jubilee - an unusual item in this post, and some would say a naff one. But have these seen the fervour transporting the nation towards its monarch? The efforts everyone made to help the Queen celebrate the 60th anniversary of her reign? The concert was wonderful, the pageant must have been the same. And the final God Save the Queen was pulling tears to anyone - even not British - in their right mind

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Turning Japanese | Cymbeline, Ninagawa Company, Barbican Theatre, London

Turning Japanese | Cymbeline, Ninagawa Company, Barbican Theatre, London | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

"Would you like to join us for a Shakespeare play in Japanese at the Barbican?", I got asked by a dear and old friend some time ago. I accepted and never thought about it again, until last night, when I actually HAD to go to the Barbican for the Ninagawa production of Cymbeline

 

I have never seen Cymbeline before but the story seems to me very close to other Shakespearian plots: an unfortunate couple, some chevaleresque rivalry between two clans, a malicious and overambitious stepmother, a battle, some witchcraft - and a happy ending, which may be the only surprising feature

 

I have also never seen a play in Japanese, especially an English play, in England, translated into a foreign language. The furthest I have gone, in such kind of experiments, was the random German-speaking plays on show sometimes in Parisian theatres

 

As soon as we enter the Barbican, the atmosphere is different. The troup is on stage, getting make up and costumes, chatting, completely indifferent to our being there. Interesting start. Curtainless theatres are becoming the rule these days, but one rarely sees the troup getting prepped up

 

Most of the audience is Japanese, raising doubts as to whether I really chose the right place to spend my evening. But soon my doubts vanish

 

The spirit of Shakespeare is rendered wonderfully. The rapid, halting rhythm of the speech. The extravagant gesticulations of the actors - one would particularly note Cloten there, who could just as much have played in X-Or or other cartoon mangas

 

But the charm is not limited to the fabulous troup. The music and the decor play a big part too, to create a holistic vision of a wonderful Shakespeare play. After a while, one stops reading the subtitles to immerse into what seems to be a Japanese play written for a Noh troup

 

And indeed, maybe it was, and Shakespeare only needed Ninagawa to make it obvious. The master managed, in addition to making this one of the most incredible theatre experiences of the year, to remain faithful to his own culture. As all grands hommes, Ninagawa says he is ashamed each time he directs a Shakespeare play - ie every year since 30 years ago - as he fears not to understand the English culture. I would say that the mere fact he is from such a different culture makes us understand very clearly the universality of the world's most famous playwright

 

As I mentioned before, one of my friends, after the Duchess of Malfi, interestingly noticed that Webster was not Shakespeare, because of the exaggerated bloodbath of the second half of the play. Maybe Ninagawa should try his magics on Webster too. Or maybe it is precisely why he has not tried. In any event, I am definitely turning Japanese on this one - apologies for the easy pun - and I suggest as many of you as possible do it too. Certainly, as the very bad photo taken on the night shows it, the audience was standing for a good 10 minutes...

 

Cymbeline, Barbican theatre

Until 2 June 2012

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La semaine dernière (week 20)

La semaine dernière (week 20) | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

J'ai aimé:

 

- the Ocado app - imagine: You can fill your fridge and cupboard at any time, as often as you want, you can wait to get the delivery until you have enough in your basket - or not if you prefer, you can shop at 5am or at 10pm - there is not enough space here to describe all the nice features of this wonderful app. Too bad Waitrose or Monoprix do not do the same

 

- Sunspel underwear - the oldest British underwear brand apparently. Sooo comfortable, and now available in limited edition at the Monocle shop

 

- Delphine Volange, the French chanteuse. Imagine a rather surreal creature surging from nowhere in the middle of a friend's drawing room on a Sunday afternoon in London. This is what Delphine Volange was to me. She starts speaking. None of what she is saying makes sense, and yet it does. She is able to cry and laugh in the same sentence. You never know if she and her universe are first or fifth degree, maybe she does not know it either. Then she starts singing. First song is a warm up. Second song and the many thereafter a delight. Need to listen and download on iTunes, with the caveat that her whole set is much better than some of the iTunes pieces - a quand les autres chansons sur iTunes, Delphine?

 

- La Bodega Nera, one of the most recent additions to the London restaurant scene. And a weird one. When you call to book, you get told: "No tie, no suit, no jacket. Basically no work attire". Could have started to explain that suit and work attire are two very different things but did not want to get there. On the night, the entrance is in a different street than the address given. Something to do with our booking being in the "upscale" restaurant, the entrance of which is underground (like the restaurant) between two sex shop windows. And then the food arrived. A wonder. We tasted all the starters, all delicious. Great guacamole, wonderful ceviche, excellent everything. Mains were not different - and in large, yet not American, portions. My pork belly a tad too fat. My neighbour chicken a delight. Etc, etc. Just book and go - btw, for New Yorkers and the like, same team as La Esquina in NYC

 

- Al Conte Ugolino, a Toscan restaurant in the heart of Milan - typical Italian restaurant that one finds more often in Rome than in Milan (ie low key and delicious), excellent Fiorentina and various fish courses that are perfect for lunch. Ueber-quick service, without even noticing

 

- the Time to Dance video by The Shoes, with Jake Gyllenhaal, façon American Psycho. No wonder that BEE is a big fan. And the song is wonderful. Not advisable though for all those who are not super fans of Clockwork Orange (you will understand why after the first minute or so)

 

- the Book Club, on Leonard Street in Shoreditch, London - multi-purpose New York-styled place, with a (great) bar, fun design furniture, incredible cocktails and 20-year old max crowd, plus cinema, bookshop, ping-pong table and pool - such a nice way to mingle in the Shoreditch crowd

 

- the Peroni UK commercial - divine girls, great music, something between The Talented Mr Ripley and a commercial for Persol. Have no idea what Peroni is though...

 

 

La meilleure progression de la semaine (ou du mois):

 

- Good Life, whose third issue has recently been in the stands - as its name does not show, it is self-defined as a men + lifestyle magazine. In fact, a French wannabe Monocle. First issue was terrible with pieces as original as an article on concept store where Colette, Bluebird and Corso Como were discussed... The third issue is much better, much more international with cool design pieces, a nice dossier on Seul and some interesting songs (even though they include Rapture's 8-month old In the Grace of your Love, fab but not brand new)

 

 

Je n'ai pas aimé:

 

- BusLondon, an app promising wonders in terms of London bus timetables - real time, si, si - which is HIGHLY unreliable, not just a bit wrong...

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My 19th most subjective to do list

My 19th most subjective to do list | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

1) Buy the new Black Fleece dinner suit from Brooks Brothers, a nice alternative to the usual DJ, for the winter (everywhere)

2) Try the new hotel Straf in Milan close to the Duomo, redecorated by Vincenzo De Cotiis (Milan, via San Raffaele)

3) Buy Finnish inventive cutting knives and other kitchen stuff by Hackman (www.royaldesign.co.uk)

4) Buy the Sweater's Stone, a magical stone that pills worn cashmeres and even upholstery (www.sweaterstone.com)

5) Visit the Louvre to see the recently-discovered copy of La Gioconda made by one of Vinci's pupils, next to the original (Paris)

6) Buy into the Bouroullec Brothers' year by visiting their Textile Field at the V&A (during the London Design Festival in September 2012) and their October 2012 first retrospective at Pompidou-Metz (London, Metz)

7) Read Absurdistan or other novels by Gary Shteyngart, hilariously pessimistic American born Russian, who writes about a world in the near future where the tech clivage creates several worlds - meant to be excellent (dans toutes les bonnes librairies, or on Amazon)

8) Add some fun into your stationery by shopping at the newly-opened Delfonics store in Paris, only outpost of the Japanese "pop" brand outside Japan (Paris, Carrousel du Louvre)

9) Download a few new series, Kaboul Kitchen, Borgen and The River, the top three must-see this spring (iTunes or equivalent)

10) Shop for men shoes in the new multi-brand shoe shop in Montmartre, 58MR, the trendy version of rue de Longchamp Blake and Goodyear (Paris, 58 rue Montmartre)

11) Visit www.lifestylemirror.com, the new site created by Diego della Valle's and Francesca Sozzani's sons, which offers shopping opportunities based on lifestyle of some selected trendsetters, in order to create consistent universes (Internet)

12) Buy some Binchotan toothbrushes, with a charcoal brush which helps refresh the mouth (Rikumo online shop or Occulter or Project No8 in New York)

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Une jolie famille recomposée | Leonardo's Saint Anne, Le Louvre, Paris

Une jolie famille recomposée | Leonardo's Saint Anne, Le Louvre, Paris | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

As I was looking for my way in the subterrean maze that the Caroussel du Louvre has become, I surprised myself reflecting on the grammar of the employee who just showed me the way: "Il vous faut passer par la pyramide, Monsieur, vous pourrez y acceder en prenant ces escaliers, et vous vous retrouverez en face de celle-ci". Unusual and refreshing, and clearly the type of French one learns in books more than on the street

The Louvre is as usual a mix of Parisians and tourists, with a discutable smell floating in the air, even outside. Queueing people seem happy to be even queueing in one of the biggest museums in the world

I have come here quickly this morning to see Leonardo's Saint Anne. Work of his life, started in 1500, 19 years before the master's death, it was left incomplete when Leonardo died in le Clos-Luce. Saint Anne, the mother of Virgin Mary, was a popular theme in the XVIth century, when it was often debated whether Mary herself was conceived immaculately

The Louvre exhibition is messy. Loads of drawings, which are always intensely beautiful with Vinci. Many versions of Leonardo's Saint Anne are described in the curator's explanations, but as often, the display is quite confusing. The version with St John the Baptist, the version with the calf, the one where Sainte-Anne no longer needs to retain Mary trying in turn to prevent her son from self-sacrifice, the version executed by Vinci's school - it is a pity that there is not more order early in the exhibition

At the end of the exhibition, here it is, finally, Leonardo's Saint Anne. Immediately, one notices the angle of Saint Anne's feet, which, as often with Leonardo, is counter natural. Remember The Lady with the Ermine's hand. Poverina!  

Mais rien a faire, one can be as skeptical over 16th century painting as one wants, a Leonardo painting is always an impressive event. I stay 15 minutes staring at one of the versions of Saint Anne, discovering new details every step of the way

The first carton, on the left, is wonderful. The one with St John the Baptist. Such a nice symmetry - Mary and Anne look alike, and so do the two children. Such a peaceful atmosphere jumping litterally from the frame

The exhibition, clearly improving as we move along, shows a few other incredible pieces: Leonardo's Madonna with the Rocks, shown last year in London, his portrait of Isabelle d'Este and that of Saint John the Baptist, Raphael's La Belle Jardiniere. It also shows the publicity-savvy Gioconda del Prado, recently discovered but still attributed to Leonardo's school: nothing comparable in my view to the real Mona Lisa

The last room shows a couple of Leonardo-inspired paintings, in particular the splendid Kiss by Max Ernst, in the Guggenheim collection in Venice. A wonderful re-interpretation where it seems that Ernst, like me, has mainly noticed Sainte-Anne's large foot and her blue coat

All in all, a Vinci exhibition is always an event, and after the National Gallery's worldwide celebrated event this year, the Louvre one is more discrete, but maybe more insightful. I sometimes dream that I visit the Louvre alone. And then, the pleasure would be full...

Leonardo da Vinci's Saint Anne
Musee du Louvre
Until 25 June 2012

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Les héritiers de Doisneau, Picasso, Coluche et Jean-Jacques Goldman | Salon de Montrouge, Paris

Les héritiers de Doisneau, Picasso, Coluche et Jean-Jacques Goldman | Salon de Montrouge, Paris | Culture and lifestyle | Scoop.it

The arrival is quite chaotic. Rainy and chaotic. Montrouge has probably rarely seen so many people interested in visiting. The place also has changed compared to the previous years (missed it last year). Was easier at the old place, which I believe is now a bank! Poverini! (Actually, at the end of my visit, I learnt that the "other place" was a temporary one, during the time when this new one, the Espace Culturel de Montrouge, opposite the town hall, was being refurbished)

The Salon de Montrouge, of which it is the 57th avatar, is supposed to gather 101 contemporary artists, mostly French, "a decouvrir". It is usually quite uneven. Le meilleur et le pire

On rentre comme dans un moulin. As I arrive, Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr is in the lobby. He is in the jury. More tanned - even - than usual. A lot of old women from Montrouge with their sticks. A sort of Fete a Neu-Neu of contemporary art

The main issue I have had with the previous editions was to find original artists that did not immediately remind me of a more well known one. As I enter, a dog barks through a headset, and a video is - unfortunately - reinitialising. The French presidential elections seem to have inspired a few. Boring

The first to stand out is Ende Wieder, and their - they are a duo - window of what a man is about: 7 soaps, 2 sugars, 2200 matches, 1 photo - the whole for 25 old French francs. Is it really the value of a man? The two chaps are nice and modest. Intimidated, and almost blushing as I take their leaflet and their email

Trop de monde

In no particular order: Benoit Menard - and his contemporary memento mori, Oliver Terral - whose stand disturbingly reminds me of the Boltanski exhibition 2 years ago at the MacVal, but in the nicest way, Eleonore Joulin - and her Tchernobyl cloud, Claire Trotignon - and her mega-wallpaper, Ludovic Sauvage and his Hopper-like videos, in a nice way again. All worth a stop and a chat

Too bad, Simon Madeleine is not on his stand. Fabienne Audeoud's wit, although not proprietary, is welcome. Lucy Watts mega chart would deserve to be on the staircase walls of the Modern Tate. David Bertram (pictured) creates a unique universe, half-way between CSI, Erwin Wurm and Eyes wide shut

Some are less well inspired. Without naming them, do we need to see a swing - Fragonard, and, more recently, Mona Hatoum have done it -, a mini-Theo Mercier spaghetti Solitaire, Richard Prince-like diversions, Georges Rousse-inspired photographs, urine pictures, Lachapelle photos and other Donald Judd lookalikes. Le meilleur et le pire, on vous dit!

One thing I am amazed at and impressed with - and which is new, is the number of media that these young-ish artists use: video, sculpture, photo, painting, installation, they want to do all, and some seem proficient in all

This year's selection is good, very good even. This is what the distinguished people crawling along the alleys seem to think. I have personally never seen that many men over 70s with a tie interested in contemporary art. Good news...

Except if these are the parents of the artists. A vous de decouvrir...

Salon de Montrouge
2, place Emile Cresp, 92120 Montrouge, France
From 3 to 30 May - with the auction of the pieces around September

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