Thursday, December 1, 2011

Paris Photo

Paris Photo
And some other adventures in the area

by Rena Silverman

It's hard being back in New York after a week in Paris. I went on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Paris Photo, which occurred for the first time this year at the Grand Palais, the most prestigious venue in Paris.

We arrived on the same day as the opening of Paris Photo. I wanted to push through my impending jetlag, but when we arrived at the apartment (located on the Îles St. Louis), the large bed just looked too inviting. Down I went.

A few hours later I woke up to a warm strip of light creeping in those large, French windows. The sound of a church bell followed by the quick rise and fall of school children's' laughter signaled the start of the afternoon. It was time to get up and go to the opening night of Paris Photo.
As I was getting dressed for the opening night of Paris Photo, I heard singing from outside. I rushed over to find a traveling musician who stopped to sing and play for a small crowd of people right outside my window.
To get to the Grand Palais, we walked alongside the Louvre, a beautiful and important piece of architecture that just keeps going. And going and going and going and going. I enjoyed the long walk, which fell into the start of a sunset. But I was also happy to finally land on the steps of the Grand Palais. And grand it was.

Inside the Palais, balloons with names of galleries and exhibitions hung from the high ceiling like earrings over the space, which was framed by green vaulted archways and a golden staircase.
117 galleries from 23 countries were there with their best photographs. Delicate 19th century works, some "modern," and other very beautiful contemporary pieces.

William Eggleston was at the Steidl booth signing books on the first day of Paris Photo.
The program was divided into four parts: Institution's recent photography acquisitions; the platform, or live events created by Paris Photo in conjunction with the LUMA foundation; the annual "Private Collection," which this year featured works from the Artur Walther collection (made possible by J.P. Morgan); and a theme of the "Photography Book."

As a huge fan--one could even say a collector--of photo books, I was delighted to find the Aperture Foundation present this year with its newest publication, The PhotoBook Review.

There were many other publishers present, some of whom held book signings with photographers.

Meanwhile, a beautiful exhibition by Giorgio Armani, official partner of Paris Photo, called "ACQUA," explored themes of water against a pale blue wall. Here, Hiroshi Sugimoto's large, serene seascapes offered refuge from the crowd.
The SFR Young Talents held their 5th annual display, too, initiating 5 photo-laureates of diverse style into the art world: Virginie Maillard, Bernard Demenge, Colin Delfosse, Patrick Devresse, and Marin Hock; while Les Rencontres de Bamako – "African Emerging Photography" showed 12 young African artists: Abdoulaye Barry, Mohamed Camara, Nestor Da, Fatoumata Diabate, Husain and Hasan Essop, Uche Okpa-Iroha, Jehad Nga, Nyani Quarmyne, Arturo Bibang, Baudouin Mouanda, Zanele Muholi, and Nyaba Ouedraogo.
Edward Weston, Manhattan from the Apartment of David McAlpin, 1941. According to JH, the picture was taken from inside the Rockefeller Apartments on West 55th Street. "You can tell by the circular windows."
117 galleries were present, so I can't get to all of them. And, although it's hard to be homesick while in Paris, I admit I noticed the New York galleries first.
The Gitterman Gallery hung a lovely piece by the contemporary photographer Yelena Yemchuk, while the Gagosian Gallery brought over a beautiful new Sally Mann piece. Other New Yorkers included Edwynn Houk and Mr. Kasher, both of whom were there to represent their galleries. It was only the first day and already a huge success.
The Gagosian Gallery's beautiful new Sally Mann piece.
I spent the following day waltzing around the city and noticed a lot of carousels.
I learned to walk around a carousel in Paris when I was about two, but I couldn't remember which one it was.
I grew attached to the statues in Tuileries Gardens where I stayed and watched the sun set.
On Friday, November 11th, I wrote an entry in my journal. It reads: "freezing cold walk through the Left Bank and chicken."
This must be the poulet I mention in my diary.
The weekend was a literary one, devoted to Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and books. I spent Saturday afternoon in the poetry section of Shakespeare & Co. and Sunday searching out some of Hemingway's other famous spots. Take his home, for example. Well, his bright blue door.
Steve Jobs, a popular subject in Paris bookstores, too.
I went to another bookshop where I found a great picture of Beckett. "Have you ever seen Beckett laugh in a photo?" my friend asked.
Later, we wandered into the Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Luxembourg Gardens, which is located in the 6e arrondissement, and watched the sunset with fellow Parisians.
Everyone was there enjoying the light.
Not far from the gardens, I found Gertrude Stein's door. A real thrill!
It's always beautiful at night in Paris. Here's a view crossing the bridge to get to the Îles St. Louis.
We spent the next day in the 16e arrondissement, where the light was just perfect. That evening, we dined with friends at the Mathis restaurant, an extension of the Hotel Mathis Elysées Matignon in the 8e. The scallops were exceptional.
Tuesday was colder, but not cold enough to prevent a good trip to Le Musée Rodin and the museum's extensive gardens in the morning, where I obsessed over the sculptures.
The lobby of Le Musée Rodin looks really great from above.
In the afternoon, we visited an amazing place called IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique), which sits next to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Normally we would have visited our family friend, composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, but he was in Germany. Still, we got to take a tour of the place, which was amazing. And Mr. Boulez's assistant let me hold one of his Grammy Awards for a few seconds. It was heavier than expected.
That night, we went all the way out into the 15e arrondissement where we concluded our trip with good wine and fine friends.

The next morning we said our good-byes to one of the most amazing cities in the world.
Photographs by Rena Silverman.