Francophiles’ Guide to Après-Quarantine, V. II

Real, Virtual and "Fake"

June 10, 2020By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Art & Culture
A recreation of Banksy’s "Love Is in the Air (Flower Thrower)" in a Paris exhibition.
A re-creation of Banksy’s “Love Is in the Air (Flower Thrower)” in a Paris exhibition.

“Members of the public should be aware there has been a recent spate of Banksy exhibitions none of which are consensual. They‘ve been organized entirely without the artist’s knowledge or involvement. Please treat them accordingly” (quote from Banksy’s website).

You have been forewarned: the exhibition “The World of Banksy” at the L’Espace Lafayette-Drouot  in Paris has no connection with the anonymous artist known as Banksy, who has labeled it and others held in cities around the world as “fake.”

I paid a visit because it was one of the few post-lockdown exhibitions open in Paris that I hadn’t seen. One does get the feeling that the show was organized solely to profit from the enigmatic artist’s fame, especially when you reach the gift shop just before the exit and see the plethora of posters, coffee mugs, key chains, trackpads, etc. on sale (the film directed by Banksy in 2010 was called, appropriately, Exit Through the Gift Shop).

That said, the show is well put together, with Banksy’s street art reproduced directly onto the walls of the space by a collective of artists (who have also chosen to remain anonymous), supplemented by framed prints of the same works.

It is always a delight to see the work of this iconoclastic artist who so brilliantly mixes humor with political commentary, even if these are reproductions. The element of surprise that comes from discovering a new Banksy piece that has appeared overnight on a wall somewhere is absent, of course, and looking at his work reproduced indoors or on framed prints just doesn’t have the same effect, but this exhibition has the merit of giving us an overview of his œuvre and reminding us how slyly provocative, pertinent and droll it is.

In other art news, the Jeu de Paume has announced that it will remain closed for renovation until spring 2021, but a virtual visit to the exhibition that was short-circuited by the Covid-19 crisis, “Le Supermarché des Images” (Supermarket of Images), a reflection on “the one hundred percent image space” we live in today, foreseen almost a century ago by Walter Benjamin, can be seen here.

"Venus on Her Chariot Pulled by Elephants" (1st century), a Pompeii fresco. © Parco Archeologico di Pompei, Amedeo Benestante
“Venus on Her Chariot Pulled by Elephants” (1st century), a Pompeii fresco. © Parco Archeologico di Pompei, Amedeo Benestante

Some of the larger museums will soon be opening as well. The Grand Palais has announced that it will reopen on July 1, 2020, with the immersive digital exhibition “Pompeii,” which will run through September 27, 2020. It’s kind of ironic that we can now go out, only to see a virtual show, but I am sure it will be spectacularly presented. Online reservations are required, and the number of visitors will be reduced by two-thirds. For those who can’t make it to Paris, the content of the show, including the catalog, can be seen online here.

The Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris will open its permanent collection (works dating from 1900 to the present) on July 7, 2020. Admission is free and no reservation is needed. In October 2019, the museum inaugurated a new hang of its collection, called “La Vie Moderne,” and the Matisse Room, with its two versions of  “Danses Barnes de Matisse” will also be open.

A still from Genius Loci by Adrien Merigeau.
A still from Genius Loci by Adrien Merigeau, entered in the Champs-Elysées Film Festival.

Film buffs have another treat in store for them (see last week’s article for info on the online offering of the Cinémathèque Française), since the entire ninth edition of the Champs-Elysées Film Festival will be available (in France only, unfortunately) for free online viewing June 9 to 16. Featuring some 40 French and American indie films, the festival has invited guests of honor Stephen Frears and Edgar Wright to give virtual masterclasses. Sign up here to watch the festival. Warning: the site is not exactly user-friendly.

The Hemingway Bar at the Paris Ritz.
The Hemingway Bar at the Paris Ritz.

Finally, those with aspirations for their dining room will want to know about the auction of tableware from the Ritz Paris at the Artcurial auction house on June 21, 22 and 23. Glasses from the Hemingway Bar and six historic table services will be offered, along with hotel linens. Who knows, Hemingway himself may have drunk out of the glasses, and Audrey Hepburn may have swanned around her suite in that monogrammed bathrobe.

In case you missed previous weeks’ “Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine” (French brain teasers, free films, audiobooks, art, music, comedy, SOS Help hotline, and more) read them here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. This is the second installment of Francophiles’ Guide to Après-Quarantine.” The first one can be found here.

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