Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-ParisNight

The view from the Théâtre de l"Odéon at dusk. Photo: Françoise Deberdt-Meunier

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Left Bank gallery crawl
> Open house at 50 galleries for Art Saint Germain des Prés. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Gold in galleries

ParisUpdate-CarreRiveGauche-Passage AH 0

“Passage” ((2017), by Aude Herlédan. At 1831 Art Gallery during Carré Rive Gauche.

> The Carré Rive Gauche, an association of Left Bank galleries, celebrates its 40th anniversary with an event called ExtrORdinaire, featuring gold in works of art. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Literary evening
> The Nuit de la Littérature in Belleville and Ménilmontant presents 20 foreign authors reading their work in French. Various venues, Paris, May 27.

 English-language theater festival
> Paris Fringe returns for its second year of English-language theater and comedy. Various venues, Paris, May 18-28.

Hollywood glam
> Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich and more in classic films from Hollywood's Golden Age for the Glamour cycle. Forum des Images, Paris, May 3-31.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Etienne Comar’s Django, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, May 26.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.

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Art - Museums

 

MAC/VAL

Art Beyond the Border

The entrance to Jacques Monory's show at the new contemporary art museum in Vitry. Photo: Marc Domage
The entrance to Jacques Monory's show at the new contemporary art museum in Vitry. Photo: Marc Domage

Why would any self-respecting Parisian ride the Métro to the outskirts of the city and then mount a crowded bus for a long ride into the suburbs, far from the périphérique, that psychological dividing line between civilization and the rest of the world?


For one very good reason: to visit the country’s newest museum of contemporary art, the Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne (MAC/VAL), which turns out to be a stunning success in every way.

On a visit to the museum last Sunday, Jacques Monory, the artist whose one-man show kicked off MAC/VAL’s program of temporary exhibitions, proclaimed it the best contemporary art museum in France, lauding it for giving him carte blanche to set up his show in nearly a third of the museum’s space and for its permanent collection. “They’re not showing the same artists you see in all the other contemporary museums,” he said. Monory, who was dressed nattily in a black leather trenchcoat and trilbly hat, drops by often and happily chats with visitors.

A figurative painter in the age of abstraction, Monory has turned his third of the museum into a sensory experience. Visitors follow a spiral-shaped path that seems to take them on a tour through the artist’s psyche. It begins with mirrored walls and floor hung with a single large-format painting in intense shades of blue. The walls and floor then turn midnight blue, with more blue and some black paintings. As the spiral curves, the walls gradually become lighter and splashes of yellow and hot pink begin to appear on the blue paintings, which become increasingly colorful. At the end, the bright white center of the spiral is hung with cosmic paintings in brilliant colors.

As visitors move through the spiral, the subject matter of the paintings, dating from 1965 to 2000, also progresses, moving from the dark, violent, mysterious themes of the early, collage-like blue paintings to the joyous light of the final images.

The rest of the museum is also a joy to visit. An architectural curiosity in a way – it was apparently designed by Jacques Ripault 20 years ago (that’s how long it took to raise the money to get it built) – it offers spaces of varying surface areas and ceiling heights to accommodate works of different sizes, with openings between them offering visitors new perspectives on the works in other rooms, not unlike the new MOMA in New York City on a smaller scale.

The works are well-chosen and well-displayed. While some famous names like Dubuffet and César are on show, pieces by many less familiar artists give the museum a fresh, truly contemporary feel. And, although the museum was full of children last Sunday, they were all so fascinated by the works that they didn’t even think of misbehaving.

MAC/VAL was the dream of Michel Germa, former president of Vitry-sur-Seine’s departmental council, a communist who believes that culture is as important as economic development. With a permanent collection of 1,200 works, the museum will concentrate on works by French artists or foreign artists who work in France.

Parisians can’t resist culture or a nouveauté, and that crowded suburban bus was full of them.

MAC/VAL: Place de la Libération, 94404 Vitry-sur-Seine. Métro: Porte de Choisy, then bus 183 (get off at the Moulin de Saquet-Pelletan stop). Tel.: 01 43 91 64 20. Open Tuesday-Sunday, noon-7 p.m., Thursday until 9 p.m. Admission: €4. www.macval.fr

Heidi Ellison


© 2005 Paris Update


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