For my last blog from Paris, I'm going to share with you a marvelous day filled with serendipitous encounters and a lot of fun!
Last Thursday was the opening of the annual "Salon du Papiers Anciens", a very low-brow fair dedicated to works on paper from books to postcards and everything in between. Held in a grim 1970's Art Brut building on the outskirts of Paris, it takes courage to go to but is generally worth the effort. I had visited the salon a few times before and had always come away with something but this year Paris is in the grips of the strikes and the public transportation is very much affected. Nevertheless, the day was beautiful and after a half hour wait for the bus and another delay while waiting for a demonstration to pass by I arrived at the fair ready to dig through the tons of wares in search of a buried treasure!
Passing stand after stand of posters, magazines, photos, old books, menus, prints, maps and stock certificates, I spotted several familiar faces and found a few interesting pieces to buy. Lunchtime came and it was time for my annual foie gras sandwich purchased, along with a glass of sweet white wine, from a vendor who participates at every fair. Not exactly a gourmet experience but absolutely delicious and I wouldn't dream of eating anything else there!
Back on the bus which rolled through Paris very nicely until encountering yet another demonstration on the rue de Rennes! That was okay, it was close enough to my destination to get off and go to visit some of my favorite galleries on the Left Bank. One of the best parts about being an art dealer is the people I deal with. I truly love to go and see my colleagues. Beside the anticipation of a great find, there is a very personal element built up over years in the business and this afternoon was no exception.
At 7 o'clock it was time to meet a dear friend for an aperitif. We chose La Closerie des Lilas, a Montparnasse institution that had been the "clubhouse" for literary and artistic lions since it opened in 1847. I had never visited but it was the perfect location for our rendez-vous with Macha a Russian artist who has lived and worked in Paris since the 1980's. We had a nice visit over a kir and then made our way down the rue d'Assas to the next stop in this excellent adventure!
Let me just back up for a minute here. A few days prior, at a party, I met a lovely couple and during the conversation they mentioned that the husband, Julio, was going to have an exhibition of his work at the Musée Zadkine and asked if I would like to come to the opening. Of course, I said yes, but I think they thought I was just kidding because the look of surprise when I actually showed up on Thursday night was marvelous!
The Musée Zadkine is a small museum dedicated to the work of the sculptor Ossip Zadkine, a Russian who worked in the "Ecole de Paris" style. Housed in the villa where he lived from 1928 until his death in 1967, the museum offers not just a survey of his works, but a glimpse into the lifestyle of an artist during the mid-20th Century. Zadkine's atelier, garden and home are now open to the public and filled with his works giving the visitor are real feel for the artist and his œuvre. But tonight was something special. For a limited time, the works of Zadkine were sharing the spotlight with a contemporary artist, Julio Villani, a Brazilian who emigrated to Paris and works in an almost "neo-Dada" style.
What was remarkable, and very effective, was the juxtaposition of the Modern Master with the young prodigy. Villani's sculptures stood strong beside the work of Zadkine and could almost be said to breathe new life into the environs. I had always intended to visit the Musée Zadkine but it was one of those things that always got pushed off to the next visit. This opportunity was worth waiting for.
Finally, it was getting late and time for dinner. I had planned to go to a small restaurant near my apartment but when I arrived a party was in full swing. Not to worry - I was informed at the door that they were having a special "Bergerac Soirée" and guests were welcome to come and join the celebration of the food and wine of this region. Who could resist? In I went, ordered some Bergerac red wine and the special of the evening and was entertained by a strolling accordion player who played everything from Edith Piaf to the Rolling Stones on her squeeze box! The crowd loved it and we sang and ate and drank until I realized it was almost midnight and time to go home!
Now it is also time for me to return to New York as my wonderful October sojourn in Paris is nearly over. But new discoveries await and I hope you'll join me for more autumn adventures back in the USA! A très bientôt!