Smile, you are alive… La butte aux cailles, Paris.
Quail hill street. A paradise for Street art hunting. 13th Arrondissement. I’d like to thank Tom Plevnik for drawing my attention to this neighbourhood I’d never been to. Visit his great site at:
Have a seat. Butte aux cailles.
“In the jungle, the mighty jungle…”. Marais. 2018.
La péniche aux enfants. The children’s barge. Willy Ronis, 1959. Ronis (1910-2009) is not as well-known as Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï, or Doisneau, yet his work is a testimony of an ancient France, that of the mid-20th century. The children playing inside the barge tell of a lost world. No security, no life-jackets, just freedom. Im’ not sure where the picture was taken from. The island looks like the Ile Saint-Louis, but I don’t recognize the bridge on the right.
An unlikely match: Magritte (This is not a stencil) and Kahlo (My night seeks you always). Rue du retrait, 20th arrondissement.
Frères humains qui après nous vivez
N’ayez les coeurs contre nous endurcis
Car si pitié de nous autres avez…
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuillent absoudre…
My human brethren who after us will live,
Have not your hearts against us hardened,
For if mercy of us you have…
Pray God that all will absolve us…
François Villon was born in 1431, almost 600 years ago, he possibly is one of the very first French Poets whose work has reached us. This text (Adapted from Old French) is called “The ballad of the hanged men.” One of the hanged men addresses us, who after him will live. A very powerful poem. Villon was a bit of a “bad” fellow, spent a lot of time in jail and was condemned to death once. He disappeared in 1463, aged 32.
“OMG, my mailbox is full, I am so behind…” La butte aux cailles.
A Beaubourg reflection.
Suzanne Valadon’s workshop, Musée Montmartre, Paris. Suzanne (1865-1938) was born Marie-Clémentine and posed as a model to Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Puvis de Chavannes and others. She was so young and pretty, that Renoir nicknamed her Suzanne as she was surrounded only by old men, a reference to the Biblical Suzanne and the elders. She kept the name, learned painting on her own and became the first woman ever admitted to the French Société des Beaux-Arts in 1894. Another pioneer. (More to come on Suzanne Valadon).
“Train-Train quotidien”. Under the suspended metro at Corvisart, line 6. Train-Train, though literally Train-train in French and English means routine. So the correct translation would be “Daily routine”. Me? I like “Mid-day train to Georgia” better.
La Convention Nationale. Panthéon, Paris.
1792. The King has been deposed and the Republic (centre with her sword drawn) proclaimed. All Europe is attacking France. (A Republic in those days was a biiig threat to all the European monarchies). Left, the Representatives at the National Convention, the first elected Assembly, swear an oath to Marianne, the representation of the République above the motto: “Vivre libre ou mourir”, To live free or die”. To the right, the Army of volunteers marches to the frontiers to defend the country. (The drummer boys marched first, setting the pace. They were around 12 or 13 years old, and generally fell first to enemy fire.)
The acrobat, 1927, by Suzanne Valadon. An air of Degas? Or Toulouse-Lautrec maybe? Valadon did have her own style but the painters of that time all knew each other and studied their friends’ techniques to build onto their own.
Robert Capa at Megève, by Willy Ronis, 1939. Capa (1913-1954) was born Endre Friedmann in Budapest. As many jews between the two wars he moved slowly west away from pogroms and Nazism. In Paris, he met Gerda Taro, a German Jewish photographer who’d also fled to Paris for obvious reasons. Together they coined the “brand” Robert Capa. Both followed the Spanish Civil war. He is the author of the Spanish Republican soldier shot on a hill. Taro was killed in Spain during the Civil war. Capa moved on. There was no shortage of war to cover. He was the first civilian photographer to land with the Allies on Omaha Beach in 1944. He died on a landmine in 1954 in Vietnam as he was covering the first Vietnam war. Aged 41.
Willy Ronis: “I am the contrary of a specialist, I am a polygraph.” I second the motion. I’ve always considered myself a generalist rather than a specialist. But a human polygraph? That IS challenging. A human Truth Detector?
Have a true week-end.