Skip to main content

Paris Update

I've been in Paris for nearly two weeks, teaching a class for the study abroad program of Columbia College Chicago. Instead of visiting the monuments and major tourist sites, I've picked up where I left off last year, wandering around without much of a plan, except to change direction as soon as I see a view down a side street that takes my interest.

Last weekend, I meandered through the southern part of the fourteenth arrondissement towards the Parc Montsouris. On the way, you come across several buildings that were home to many artists and writers at seminal stages in their development.

The first is the Villa Seurat, on the Rue de la Tombe Issoire:

The site originally contained a house used by the great Post-impressionist painter Seurat, which is renown enough. But the current building, constructed in the 1920s in an art deco style, became a warren of studios that was home to an impressive hothouse of creative people: the great painter Chaim Soutine, writer Henry Miller, writer Anais Nin.

The small street adjacent to the Villa is lined with more studios that were used by other slightly lesser known twentieth century artists, among them sculptor Chana Orloff, painter Jean Lurçat, and writer Frank Townshend.

Walk another quarter of a mile to the western edge of Parc Montsouris, and you find the studio and home of one of the giants of twentieth century art: Georges Braques, co-inventor of Cubism along with Pablo Picasso. The building is difficult to see, as it's screened (intentionally) by a wall and a line of bushes.
But look closely, and you can see that the top of the building has a line of skylight-style glass windows. This is the studio in which Braque ensconced himself for years, adjusting the screens over the windows to match the shifts in the constantly changing Parisian light, working obsessively for months and sometimes years on the same paintings, mostly still lives composed on tables in the studio.


Popular posts from this blog

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.

A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

A List of Every Drink in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

I first read Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" when I was a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. For the last couple of years, I have had the incredible privilege of teaching a class based around Hemingway in Paris -- while living and teaching in Paris itself, close to the Boulevard du Montparnasse, where most of the action of the novel's first half takes place.

Of the many things that one notices about the book, the colossal amount of drinking is something that stands out. These people didn't just drink like fish: they drank like whales, as if the ocean they swam in was alcohol and they had set themselves the task of drinking the seas of the world dry of it. During my read-through of the book before class started last year, I tried to underline every mention of drink in the book. And now, purely in the interests of science, I am listing the entire menu of booze mentioned directly by name. Some preliminary observations:
Most of this is…