The Common Viewer in Paris (20th Sept.)

My goodness, this city is full of art. My last day here, so a quick scoot firstly to the Musee d’Orsay where from so many highlights – indeed all the joys of Impressionism! Oh, okay, here’s one of Monet’s fabulous “Haystacks”, the series of paintings that inspired Kandinsky to abandon his career in law and become an artist.

Claude Monet (1840-1926): “Haystacks, End of Summer” [1891]

But I have chosen for my d’Orsay postcard an amazing sketch by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec: “A Woman in Profile (Madame Lucy)” [1896]…

I say ‘sketch’, but it is extraordinary how with apparently simple brush-strokes, gestural patterns of line and colour, the artist makes Madam Lucy so vividly present.

Then to the Musee d’Art Moderne and, oh my, Natalia Goncharova!

Firstly a “Still Life” (1911), then this mind-blowing “Two Spanish Women” (1930 or thereabouts):

In the gallery’s label, they quote a critic declaring: “these are not women, they are cathedrals!”

And to finish with a blast of full colour again, here’s Pierre Bonnard’s “The Garden” (1936):

so it’s Au Revoir to Paris (for now)!

The Common Viewer in Paris (19th Sept.)

what a day at the Pompidou! so many fabulous paintings such as Sonia Delaunay’s “Le Bal Bullier” (1913) which stretches the length of a wall – a vibrant, joyous dance of colour:

also Natalia Goncharova’s incredible “Femme au Chapeau” (1913) which, I learned, is actually a self-portrait – those eyes!

earlier in the day I discovered the doorway to Goncharova’s Paris apartment at 16, rue Jacques-Callot, right next door to the La Palette cafe!

my painting of the day though just has to be Wassily Kandinsky’s “Painting with Red Oval” [1914] – shimmering with colour

just as Paris itself is shimmering in glorious autumn sunshine!

Art, Books and Culture Group meeting at The Beecroft (24th Sept.): Surrealist Magic (3) – the Art of Leonora Carrington

Join us at the Beecroft Gallery, Southend on Saturday 24th September (11.15am-12.30pm, or thereabouts) for the last in our little series “Surrealist Magic”.

We’ll begin with works such as Edith Rimmington’s The Oneiroscopist [1947, Jewish Museum] and, as we open our minds into the possibility of other ways of seeing ourselves and the world, our focus will turn to the life and art of Leonora Carrington whose ‘artist manifesto’ might be seen from her early

“Self Portrait (Inn of the Dawn Horse)” [1937, Metropolitan Museum, NY].

It will be a morning of stunning and inspirational pictures, I promise!

All are welcome to join us, £10 on the door with coffee & biscuits to follow.

The Common Viewer in Paris (16th Sept.)

Well, whilst some people might visit the Louvre to see Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa”, for me the absolute highlight of the entire collection is:

Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun (1755-1842)’s portrait of Madame Mole-Reymond, painted in 1786; the blue and lilac are quite extraordinary.

And for those of you who share my fascination for Marie Laurencin (1883-1946), some of her work is on show at L’Orangerie, including “Femmes au Chien” (1926):

Again, the colours!

Laurencin’s usual pinks and blues plus, here, a dramatic stripe of yellow-gold – quite thrilling!


The Common Viewer in Paris (15th Sept)…

and today it is very much back to the 1920s, les annees folles and modernes:

I mean where else would one find a ‘street art’ portrait of artist Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), one of the characters of inter-war Montparnasse life?

My main mission though was to be ‘on the trail’ of Nancy Cunard,

Nancy Cunard in her Paris flat; photo by Man Ray c.1928, Pompidou Centre

finding not only her flat at 2, rue de la Regrattier, overlooking the Seine and Notre Dame (amazing to see the ongoing restoration work)

but also the site of her Hours Press shop at 15, rue Guenegard:

Then on to the most extraordinary exhibition: “Les Cercles de la Baronne” at Galerie La Minotaure.

The eponymous la Baronne was Hélène d’Œttingen (1887-1950), whose story is little known and yet, as the painter François Angiboult, she was a heartbeat of the modern art movement in Paris that included Nina Hamnett’s friend, the brilliant artist Marie Vassilieff (1884-1857) who designed numerous puppets, shown at the exhibition.

All very exciting indeed… more to come!