Sunday 31 March 2013

Café de Flore.

The Café de Flore, at the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue St. Benoit, in the 6th arrondissement, is one of the oldest and the most prestigious coffeehouses in Paris, celebrated for its famous clientele.
The classic Art Deco interior of all red seating, mahogany and mirrors has changed little since World War II. Like its main rival, Les Deux Magots, it has hosted most of the French intellectuals during the post-war years.
In his essay "A Tale of Two Cafes" and his book Paris to the Moon, American writer Adam Gopnik mused over the possible explanations of why the Flore had become, by the late 1990s, much more fashionable and popular than its rival, Les Deux Magots, despite the fact that the latter cafe was associated with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and other famous thinkers of the 1940s and 1950s. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was known to be a frequent patron of Café de Flore during his years in France in the 1920s
The Prix de Flore, a literary prize inaugurated by Frédéric Beigbeder in 1994, is awarded annually at the Café de Flore.

45/50 Paris after the war

Existentialism became incarnate in the Youth, who was mad with freedom, Juliette Gréco, Boris Vian…Existentialism was a fashion and Juliette Gréco imposed her « long »style. Boris Vian wrote « Le manuel de Saint-Germain-des-Prés », played the trumpet in nightclubs, wrote poems too, he really lived in his times and was one of the principal actors. Saint-Germain-des-Prés was a place to meet people and to become friends., a real laboratory where any proposed his form, his color, his taste, his vision of liberty, because it was all about liberty though. Arthur Koestler, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Lawrence Durrel were faithful, they were members of the PCF (the French Communist Party at that time), of the Pouilly Club of France created by Boubal, anecdotal party which bore the name of the famous white wine served at the Café. The Boss greeted at noon the Surrealist friends of André Breton, and on the evening Albert Camus or the four hussars: Nimier, Déon, Kléber Haedens and Jacques Laurent, while Albert Vidalie and Antoine Blondin began memorable « fights » with hard-boiled or even fresh eggs which spattered either the Prevert’s brothers and their friends of the « October Group », or Artaud or Vian. Daniel Gélin and Danielle Delorme were young and good-looking. It was at the Café where they hid their love, Jacques Tati certainly met them, Sacha Guitry was probably envious.  

60’s La Nouvelle Vague
« At that time, it was as if all the Cinema gathered there: writers and their muses, screenwriters, stage designers, almost everyone who participated in the creation »
Daniel Gélin.

All the cinema seized the Café: Christian Vadim, Jane Fonda, Jane Seberg, Roman Polansky, Marcel Carné. Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Losey and Belmondo preferred sit outside, as Simone Signoret, Yves Montand or Gerard Philipe did before. Daniel Fillipachi assiduously frequented the Café he knew when he was a little boy, when he came with his dad. Léo Férré never entered the Café without Pépé, his female monkey, on the shoulder. The intelligentsia at that time, those who were famous or not yet were present too: Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor, Sollers, Sagan, Roland Barthes, Nathalie Sarraute, Romain Gary. Also the World of Fashion, its designers – Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Rochas, Gunnar Larsen, Givenchy, Lagerfeld, Paco rabanne, Guy Laroche – as its creatures »: the most beautiful and famous models in the world. Thierry Le Luron, and his accomplices Jacques Chazot, Mourousi and Jean-Marie Rivière, also Régine, Castel and the Botton Brothers came and contemplated the models discreetly. A muddle: César, tristan Tzara, Alberto Giacometti, Dali, Pierre Seghers, Pierre Brasseur, Alice Sapritch, Serge Reggiani, Jean Vilar and Jacques Lacan,a psychoanalyst, extended the tradition of the Café de Flore, in the 60’s.

Friday 29 March 2013

Le Tabou / Les Deux Magots / St Germain des Prés.

Le Tabou was a cellar club located at 33 Rue Dauphine in Saint Germain des Pres, Paris. The club opened shortly after Club des Lorientais on 11 April 1947. The Club first went unnoticed, a late night drinking haunt of the local press distribution service but became famous as a haunt of the existentialists.
The early years

Le Tabou operated with a late licence, until 4am, that suited the local press distribution service, who contributed a significant portion of its clientele. The nighthawks began to frequent the cafe in 1945, attracted by the late night opening when leaving Le Flore or Les Deux Magots.
September 1946 saw the 'intellectualising' of Le Tabou. Poets including Tousky, Camille Bryen and de Beaumont began to frequent the cafe alongside painters such as Desseau and Wols. The neighbourhood writers including Queneau, Sartre, Canas and Pichette were soon also regular patrons alongside a host of others.
[edit]Jazz at Le Tabou

Jazz quickly established itself in this underground haven with a Trio composed of Boris Vian, his two brothers alongside anyone else with a desire to play. "This smoke-filled dive was to become a veritable legend on the Saint Germain scene, providing a meeting-point for young bohemians, as well as a host of famous musicians and artists. Boris Vian was a regular at Le Tabou, as were Jean Cocteau and the legendary jazz trumpet-player Miles Davis. Needless to say, Juliette Gréco also made it her local haunt" 
The Decline

"From July to August 1947 the party was in full stride. Agitated by the noise made by the late night clients as they left, the residents of Rue Dauphine had for sometime been enthusiastically emptying their chamberpots onto the heads of the imprudent customers. This only caused the clamor of the crowd to grow louder" 
Complaints from the local residents caused Le Tabou's late license to be revoked and the club was forced to close at midnight. The opening of the late night celler club at 13 Rue Saint-Benoit coincided with Le Tabou's decline.

 Les Deux Magots  is a famous café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris, France. It once had a reputation as the rendezvous of the literary and intellectual élite of the city. It is now a popular tourist destination. Its historical reputation is derived from the patronage of Surrealist artists, intellectuals such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and young writers, such as Ernest Hemingway. Other patrons included Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso, and the American writer Charles Sutherland.
The Deux Magots literary prize has been awarded to a French novel every year since 1933.

 The name originally belonged to a fabric and novelty shop at nearby 23 Rue de Buci. The shop sold silk lingerie and took its name from a popular play of the moment (1800s) entitled Les Deux Magots de la Chine (Two Figurines from China.) In 1873 the business transferred to its current location in the Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés. In 1884 the business changed to a café and liquoriste, keeping the name.
Auguste Boulay bought the business in 1914, when it was on the brink of bankruptcy, for 400,000 francs (anciens). The present manager, Catherine Mathivat, is his great-great-granddaughter.

Le Tabou Saint-Germain

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Scandalous women in British The Telegraph /

The promiscuous Jane Digby was a 19th century aristocrat famous for her long list of husbands and lovers – including King Otto of Greece, King Ludwig I of Bavaria, and a Greek count. Eventually she married the Syrian sheikh Abdul Medjuel el Mezrab, and spent half of each year living in the desert as a nomad.
Picture: INTERFOTO / Alamy
In 1963, during the divorce proceedings of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, scandalous pictures emerged of the Duchess showing her naked except for her signature pearl necklace, and performing sex acts on a mysterious man. It was widely rumoured that her partner was the minister of defence, Duncan Sandys, but she never revealed his identity.
Picture: Daily Mail /Rex Features

Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the suffragette movement, shocked society with her demands that women should have the right the vote. Pankhurst's violent tactics – including arson and window smashing – were deeply controversial even within her own movement, and she was imprisoned several times.

One of history's most famous femme fatales, Edward II's French queen Isabella famously overthrew her husband with the aid of her lover, Roger Mortimer, in 1326. Atfer her son, Edward, wrested back power, Mortimer was executed, but Isabella was allowed to live.
Picture: Classic Image / Alamy

The Ladies of Llangolen were two aristocratic Irish women who caused a major scandal in 1778 when, rather than be forced into arranged marriages, they ran away together to set up house in Wales. The couple became something of a tourist attraction, with luminaries such as Wordsworth, Shelley and Sir Walter Scott all paying them a visit.
Picture: Mary Evans Picture Library / Alamy
The beautiful Diana Mitford caused the society scandal of the year in 1933 when she left her husband Bryan Guinness for Oswald Mosely, leader of the British Union of Fascists. Both she and her Mosely were interned during the Second World War for their supposed Nazi sympathies.
Picture: Daily Mail /Rex Features
American divorcée Wallis Simpson was catapulted into infamy when Edward VIII abdicated to marry her. Bizarre rumours of how she had captivated the the King –including, most famously, that she had learnt sex techniques from prostitutes in China – circulated until the end of her life. The Queen Mother is said to have once dubbed her "the lowest of the low".
Picture: Everett Collection/Rex Features
Vita Sackville-West raised eyebrows with her unorthodox open marriage to Sir Harold Nicholson, which saw both of them have frequent affairs with members of the opposite sex. Once, when she eloped with her lover Violet Trefusis to France, Sir Harold was forced to cross the Channel to try to persuade her back.
Picture: Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Library / Alamy
The married Lady Caroline Lamb found herself embroiled in scandal in 1812, when she embarked on an affair with Lord Byron. After the relationship ended, she was taken in disgrace to Ireland, but continued to obsess over him till the end of her life.
Picture: Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Library / Alamy
Writer Mary Wollstonecraft was famous for defending women's rights, as well as for her unconventional personal life. A frank biography published by her husband William Godwin after her death, which revealed, among other things, that she had borne a child out of wedlock, provoked outrage.
Picture: Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Library / Alamy
The demanding behaviour of King Charles II's mistress Barbara Palmer, the Duchess of Cleveland, was so notorious that the writer John Evelyn christened her "the curse of a nation". Extravagant and powerful, Villiers was in fact married throughout her liasions with Charles, but bore the King five acknowledged children.
Picture: Getty Images
Caroline Norton was a famous beauty who scandalised society when she left her husband in 1836, prompting him to accuse her of adultery with the home secretary, Lord Melbourne. Although she was not found guilty, Norton's reputation was damaged, and she had to use her wits to survive. She is now remembered as a famous writer and social reformer.
Picture: Hilary Morgan / Alamy
Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire (portrayed here by Keira Knightley in the film The Duchess) famously lived for years in a menage a trois with her husband and his mistress. She also became notorious for her active political campaigning, unusual for a woman at the time, and is said to have had an affair with the Whig statesman Charles James Fox.
Picture: Daily Mail /Rex Features
When Victorian actresss Fanny Kemble moved to America to marry the slave plantation owner Pierce Mease Butler, she was horrified by the conditions she found there – though her husband barred her from publishing her thoughts. After a messy divorce, she published a journal of her time on the plantation which shocked America, and became a prominent anti-slavery campaigner.
Picture: Mary Evans Picture Library / Alamy

In the late 1970s Cynthia Payne, a party planner, hit the headlines when police raided her London home and found a sex party in progress, at which the patrons had paid for services in luncheon vouchers. She spent four months in Holloway prison, and later published an aptly-named book calledEntertaining at Home.
Picture: Bill Johnson / Associated Newspapers /Rex Features

Tuesday 26 March 2013

David Bowie Exhibition at The Victoria & Albert Museum / London

David Bowie is: About the Exhibition
The V&A has been given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to curate the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie - one of the most pioneering and influential performers of modern times. David Bowie is will explore the creative processes of Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon, tracing his shifting style and sustained reinvention across five decades.

The V&A’s Theatre and Performance curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh have selected more than 300 objects that will be brought together for the very first time. They include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork.

The exhibition will explore the broad range of Bowie’s collaborations with artists and designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, art and film. On display will be more than 300 objects including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Burretti, photography by Brian Duffy; album sleeve artwork by Guy Peellaert and Edward Bell; visual excerpts from films and live performances including The Man Who Fell to Earth, music videos such as Boys Keep Swinging and set designs created for the Diamond Dogs tour (1974). Alongside these will be more personal items such as never-before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics as well as some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores and diary entries, revealing the evolution of his creative ideas.

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes of David Bowie
By ROSLYN SULCAS in The New York Times /
Published: March 22, 2013

LONDON — A photograph hangs inconspicuously near the entrance of “David Bowie Is,” a Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition opening on Saturday that has already sold a record number of tickets. It shows the young man who began life as David Jones, seated, in a dark suit and tie, with a leg propped up on his chair, beneath which sits a drum bearing the name of his band, the Kon-rads. One hand grips a saxophone, the other rests delicately against his face, and he looks out at the world with a mesmerizing blend of reserve and come-hither allure.
The carefully choreographed pose, the angelic face, the calculation of the gaze, suggest much about the teenager who would become the protean figure known as David Bowie. Immediately apparent is his understanding of body language, image and the importance of seduction — elements that have played a vital role in the career of a pop star who was a performance artist before that term was widely used.

The idea of an exhibition built around the life and nearly 50-year career of Mr. Bowie is ambitious. How to show the many guises — a new one just provided by the surprise appearance early this month of a new album, “The Next Day” — of a man who throughout his career has relentlessly reinvented his persona and his music with astonishing rapidity and unpredictability? How to make “David Bowie Is” something more than an array of artifacts, from old record covers and photographs to a panoply of costumes and videos? How to suggest the voracious appetite with which Mr. Bowie has both absorbed and anticipated the social and cultural currents of his time?

That the show has happened at all is, on the face of things, unlikely. Mr. Bowie, now 66, is famously guarded. He hasn’t performed in public since 2006, does not give interviews and appears to live as inconspicuously as possible in New York with his wife, the former model Iman, and their daughter. The release of “The Next Day” came as a surprise to almost everyone, including the Victoria and Albert — “although no one believes us,” lamented Geoffrey Marsh, who, with Victoria Broackes, is co-curator of the exhibition.

But toward the end of 2010, the museum received a phone call from an associate of Mr. Bowie’s.

“We were just talking generally about various possibilities,” Mr. Marsh said, speaking in one of the galleries as a video played of Mr. Bowie, in a turquoise suit, singing “Life on Mars.” “Then he said, ‘Are you interested in David?’ ”

It turned out that Mr. Bowie is one of those people who have never thrown anything away. Even better, he believes in organizing everything he has never thrown away. Mr. Marsh and Ms. Broackes traveled to New York to find a 75,000-piece collection that an archivist had spent several years organizing.

“The deal was that we could borrow anything from the archive, but that he would have nothing to do with the exhibition; that all the text must be checked for factual accuracy by the archivist, but the interpretation is ours,” Mr. Marsh said.

Why the intensely private Mr. Bowie, who declined to be interviewed for this article, should have decided at this point to open his archive, life and career to such interpretation is essentially an unanswered question.

“He has had a very long absence from touring, and I think that he doesn’t want to go out on the road, but wants to stay in touch with his audience,” said Kevin Cann, the author of “Any Day Now,” a biography of Mr. Bowie’s early years. “This is him reaching out and sharing.”

To the curators’ credit, “David Bowie Is” — as the open-ended title indicates — attempts something more complex than a single reading of a career that has encompassed an astonishing range of musical and cultural directions. “Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them,” reads one of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s “Oblique Strategies” cards, displayed in the exhibition. That might well be Mr. Bowie’s motto.

From his red-haired, outlandishly costumed, sexually ambiguous incarnation of glam-rock in his 1972 breakthrough album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”; to the Weimar cabaret-influenced persona of the Thin White Duke in 1975; to the surrealist Pierrot figure of the 1980 “Ashes to Ashes”; to the Union Jack-coated master (or is he?) of all he surveys on the 1997 “Earthling” album, Mr. Bowie has remained eternally mutable and essentially unknowable.

“Until the Beatles came along, the previous models in rock were that you had a hit, then recycled that until you had bored everyone,” said the music writer Jon Savage in a telephone interview. “I think Bowie picked up that idea of constant change in a more extreme way. Until then, rock music had been about the idea of authenticity, and he shattered that. Saying he was gay at the same time as he had a wife gave the message, this is pop music, this is an area for play, experimentation, have fun. It’s a place outside the norms of society, where you can try different things in a performative way.”

The challenge for “David Bowie Is,” Mr. Marsh said, was to convey the idea of performance and the scope of Mr. Bowie’s cultural references.

“He got the stage, not just as a physical thing but a philosophical thing,” Mr. Marsh said, “and that’s difficult to get over in an exhibition.”

The curators’ decision was to organize the show by theme rather than chronology. The first section is devoted to Mr. Bowie’s early years, displaying photographs, albums and documents. (His favorite authors are “Kafka, Camus, Pinter, Behan, Waterhouse and Wilde,” an early biographical note tells us.)

But the rest of the exhibition is arranged around costumes, songwriting, collaborators and — in a final spectacular display of floor-to-ceiling screens — performance. Mr. Bowie’s music is in the air, throughout, by virtue of headsets worn by visitors that pick up the tracks in each section of the show.

The immersive experience that results seems fitting for an artist described in a telephone interview by the author Camille Paglia as “totally in the senses.” Ms. Paglia, who has contributed an essay to the exhibition catalog, delivered a passionate defense of Mr. Bowie as a major artist and as a counter against what she called the “word-drunk, word-centered, body-phobic” tendencies of postmodernism.

“He is a product of Surrealism, of Dada, of the Modernist arts,” she said. “He is body-based, always completely in the role he is playing. His tremendous physical virtuosity, his understanding of costume and how it is an imaginative projection of your body, is part of the biggest thing about him: he is so deeply emotional. I’m so happy with the return of David Bowie.”
“David Bowie Is” is on view through Aug. 11 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London;