Friday, September 27, 2013

The Art Set: Au revoir, Paris :-(

Graffiti in Beaubourg.
The Art Set: Au revoir, Paris :-(
by Charlie Scheips

Soon after I filed my most recent installment of The Art Set last month, I had an accident in Paris. On the Saturday afternoon of August 24, while preparing dinner for my brother Teddy, his wife Sophie and their son Pierre (who were to arrive from the Loir-et-Cher around 5 p.m.), a large and very sharp 10-inch chef's knife fell from the kitchen counter and landed directly point-down above my shoe. It was bleeding profusely, and I rushed to find bandages in the apartment I was staying in.

The delicious Merveilleux cake.
Luckily, my friends had a good supply of first aid items and I managed to bandage it up and wrap it with a sticky ace bandage-like material. I continued on with making dinner (what is more important?) and my family got there a little after 6.

An hour later Marielle Worth and Joan Schenkar arrived and we had a lovely dinner of melon and prosciutto, lasagna, salad and cheese, and the spectacular and delicious Merveilleux cake of meringue, chocolate and whipped cream coated with shavings of dark chocolate that Marielle had brought.

The next morning, after breakfast, my sister-in-law Sophie, who is a pharmacist, insisted on looking at my foot. She took one look and told me I had to go straight to the hospital. Teddy and I got into his car and headed for Neuilly and the American Hospital emergency room. Once there we were told — since it was Sunday in August in Paris — that there was not a specialist available and that it would probably be at least a couple of thousand Euros and probably could not be dealt with until the next day.

A doctor on duty took a quick look at my injury and suggested that perhaps I should go to a nearby public hospital — the Institut Hospitalier Franco Brittanique.
The Franco Britannique Hospital were I was treated.
We arrived around noon and there were already a dozen people sitting in the waiting room. A couple hours later, I was called and the very nice doctor and nurses cleaned me up, gave me local anesthetic and sewed my foot up with eight stitches.

It was the first time I had actually looked at my foot since the injury and let's just say that it reminded me of the gash inflicted by Charlotte Corday in the chest of French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat as painted by Jacques-Louis David in 1793. Not pretty!

When I went to check out of the hospital my bill was 42 Euros! Vive la France!
WARNING Graphic image: The damaged foot.
Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat, 1793, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Belgium.
I resumed my round of activities and writing with the doctor’s instruction to have the stitches removed a week or so later.

On Sunday morning I met Marielle at the Porte de Vanves flea market. We stopped to have a coffee mid way and listened to Roland Godard play wonderful French music hall songs on the piano — I’m told he is an institution at the market each week.
Site of the great Porte to Vanves flea market held each Sunday.
Porte de Vanves flea market.
A Table at the Porte de Vanves flea market.
The next day, Marivi von Oppersdorff, who divides her time between Bavaria and Rome, was in Paris for a few days with Imara Ruffo di Calabria to enjoy Paris. We had a nice catch-up on the terrace of the Café de Flore that, even though it is a magnet for tourists, its also frequented by Parisians as well — I probably had five or six meetings there over the course of my stay including with Parisian photo dealer Thierry Marlat.
At the Café de Flore. Imara Ruffo di Calabria and Marivi von Oppersdorff on the Blvd. Saint Germain after drinks at the Café de Flore.
Art dealer Thierry Marlat.
A couple days later I met Thomas Michael Gunther at the Café Beaubourg before we visited the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou across the plaza. The show, which is completing a world tour in Paris, was much altered from the exhibition I saw at the Guggenheim in New York last year. They have even published a different catalog for this presentation.
Thomas Michael Gunther.
I first met Roy Lichtenstein in Los Angeles during the 1980s where he used to come in the winters to do prints at Gemini G.E.L. One night, he and his wonderful wife Dorothy came to dinner at David Hockney’s house in the Hollywood Hills. At one point Dorothy asked me for a cigarette and I looked to Roy to seek his approval. All he said was “Charlie, the one thing about being human is we all have a 100% mortality rate.” Sadly, when he died in 1997 he was only 73. Dorothy, still an active presence in the art world today, is the president of the Foundation set up after the artist’s early death.
Roy Lichtenstein at the Pompidou.
I told the Lichtensteins that night at Hockney’s that when my youngest brother Derek went off to college, my mother made a copy of a Roy Lichtenstein painting then owned by the great collectors Burton and Emily Tremaine. My father Charles Sr. had been a long-time consultant for the Tremaine’s family business — the Miller Company in Meriden, Connecticut. My mother Marguerite, a retired journalist, wrote a history of the company on the occasion of its 150th anniversary in 1994.
My mother's history of the Miller company, 1994.
It’s a great early painting by Lichtenstein. My mother, suffering from empty nest syndrome, signed it “apologies to Roy Lichtenstein.” It hung in Derek’s bedroom until my mother’s death in 2004. The Lichtenstein continues in Paris until November 4.
Roy Lichtenstein's I Can See the Whole Room...and There's Nobody in It! © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein.
After touring the Lichtenstein show, Thomas and I decided to walk through Constantin Brancusi’s studio that is housed in a building designed by Renzo Piano in 1997 in front of the Pompidou. It’s so well done — don’t miss it on your next trip to Paris.
Renzo Piano's building that houses the Brancusi studio in front of the Pompidou.
View of Constantin Brancusi's camera equipment.
Another view of Brancusi's studio.
Afterwards, we headed over to Susan Train’s apartment where we got to have a quick visit with Joan Juliet Buck who was in town. I then headed over to the Bastille area for dinner with a former assistant of mine during my years at Condé Nast. The beautiful Stephanie Ovide is now a prominent costume and textile conservator working with major French museums, the fashion archives of couture houses including Balenciaga, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel as well as private collectors. Originally from Guadeloupe, Stephanie and her young son and daughter recently moved into a fabulous loft which is also home to her conservation studio.
Susan Train and Joan Juliet Buck.
Textile conservator Stephanie Ovide and Charlie at her loft near Bastille.
The next night, Silke and Hugo Rittson-Thomas came over from London to spend an evening in Paris with me. We started at the glamorous Hotel Le Meurice where William Oliveri, the bar manager of Bar 228, gave us a fabulous table in the corner and plied us with delicious drinks and nibbles.

The luxury hotel world is a bit complex in Paris just now — the Ritz is under major renovation and I am told that many of that hotel’s faithful such as Anna Wintour have decamped now to the Meurice. Silke and I worked together for a time at the Phillips de Pury (now simply Phillips) auction house. Hugo is working on a fantastic major photography project entitled The Queen’s People — a group of fifty formal portraits of the British monarchy and those who sustain it.

I got a sneak peak of his portraits of the Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on Hugo’s iPad but you’ll have to wait for the planned exhibition and book to come out.
The Hotel Le Meurice.
Bar 228 at Hotel Le Meurice.
Silke and Hugo Rittson-Thomas at Bar 228.
Cocktails at Bar 228.
After a magnificent couple hours at the Bar 228, we hopped into a cab to one of my favorite restaurants — Chez Georges on the rue de Mail just off the Place de Victoire. The restaurant changed hands recently but the new owners have kept every bit of the place’s charm and delicious food. I even got a kiss from one of the waitresses there whose been serving me for nearly thirty years. I always have the same thing: salad frisee with poached eggs, lamb chops with haricot verts, and cheese, and a crème brulee!
Chez Georges.
Frisee salad with bacon and poached eggs at Chez Georges. Lamb chops and haricot verts at Chez Georges.
Going home on the Metro I inadvertently took two photos with my iPhone that seemed to sum up the strange fashion world we now live in globally. My old-fashioned wingtip shoes juxtaposed across from Parisian youths wearing the strangest sneakers I’ve ever seen as well as the unfortunate worldwide tattoo phenomenon. I have to say I am not going there — evah!
Two worlds.
On Sunday afternoon, I went to visit my great pal Jimmy Douglas at his great apartment on the rue du Bac. Afterwards, Thomas Gunther and I headed over to the Musée du Quai Branly for a fascinating exhibition Charles Ratton: The Invention of “Primitive Art.”

Poster for the Charles Ratton exhibition at Quai Branly museum
Ratton (1895-1986) was a French collector and dealer of non-western art from Africa and the Americas and was widely responsible for the transformation of these works from mere anthropological specimens to being appreciated as major works of art. Unfortunately the show has already closed, but you can see more in the video the Museum created for the exhibition on this fascinating man and his career.

A couple days later, Silke Rittson-Thomas was back in Paris and asked me to be her date for the opening reception and dinner in honor of dual exhibitions by Beatrice Caracciolo and Eduardo Terrazas at the Almine Rech gallery on the rue de Turenne.

No sooner had I walked into the space when I was greeted by Pierre Bergé (for whose Paris Foundation I curated David Hockney: Drawings for the iPhone and iPad in 2010) and the delightful François and Betty Catroux. Gallery director Carlos Cardenas gave me a quick tour of the exhibition and then it was down the street to les Minimes restaurant which the gallery had taken over for the evening.
Carlos Cardenas, director, Almine Rech Gallery, Paris. Jessie Fortune Ryan at Almine Rech.
View of the exhibition Constellations, Eduardo Terrazas, September, 6 to October 5, 2013, Almine Rech Gallery, Paris, France (Photo: Rebecca Fanuele).
View of the exhibition Attraversare Il Fuoco, Beatrice Caracciolo, September, 6 to October 5, 2013, Almine Rech Gallery, Paris, France (Photo: Rebecca Fanuele).
The courtyard of Almine Rech Gallery.
I was lucky to sit between art collector Marion Lefebvre and François Bellet who directs the Almine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso Foundation in Brussels. We reminisced about Patrice Bachelard whom François had also known well. Among those at the delicious dinner (artichokes with truffles, filet of bar with haricot verts and pureed potatoes, and lemon meringue tart) were both featured artists as well as Ugo Rondinone and around 100 other invited guests.

Nina De Voogd shot by Horst
The next night I put on my imaginary chef’s toque with Thomas Gunther to prepare a dinner at Susan Train’s apartment. The occasion was the reunion of a group of us that spent, until the past two summers, several years on holiday in the Gers region in the southwest of France.

Other guests included Marie José Lepicard — who worked with Susan at Vogue in the 1950s before moving on to Jardin du Mode and later as a cultural reporter for French television — and Nina de Voogd Fuller, who modeled early in her life and is now settled in the charming town of Lectoure. We dined on tomato, mozzarella basil salad, guinea hen (or pintade) with braised endive, salad and cheese, and a delicious raspberry tart.

Sunday night, my long-time pal Martha Martin was in town from England for the Maison et Objet show and we met her at Le Vaudeville in front of the Bourse for yet another delectable dinner. Martha has a shop and café called The Collection where she sells designer gifts and home accessories as well as fresh bread and flowers. Martha and I worked together in the early 1980s at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. I left for Los Angeles and Martha married Englishman Andy Martin and crossed over the pond where they’ve raised their three sons.
Le Vaudeville restaurant.
Martha Martin in London, March, 2013.
My Paris hosts were having family visiting from Germany that weekend so I decided to take leave of the city and go to the Loir for my birthday — joining my brother and family and wine authority Isabelle Bachelard. We convened on Isabelle’s house outside of Montoire with a car-full of delicacies from Teddy’s garden and the market that morning at Montrichard.

For 25 years, Isabelle’s house has been cared for by Monsieur and Madame Cruchet who live nearby. It was good planning on Isabelle’s part that Teddy and I arrived just in time to help Monsieur Cruchet load the firewood into the caves on the property after two years of aging after they were felled.
Isabelle Bachelard's Vaupian.
Teddy, Isabelle and M. Cruchet storing the aged firewood
In between, I cooked dinner as Sophie and Pierre were arriving later that day. The menu for my 54th birthday was pumpkin soup with a potimarron from Teddy’s garden, filet of beef with sautéed new potatoes and haricot verts, salad and cheese and white peaches for dessert. Isabelle began my birthday aperitif with a magnum of 2000 champagne and we washed dinner down with another magnum of St. Julien from 1989. It was a great birthday — although I am afraid my 12-year-old nephew was completely bored without Wi-Fi service to play his Minecraft computer game.
Teddy with the bounty of his garden.
Isabelle Bachelard and Charlie in the garden.
The table set for my birthday dinner in the Loir.
A magnum of 2000 vintage champagne and a 1989 St. Julien for my birthday. The birthday entree: Filet of beef with sautéed new potatoes and haricot verts.
Back in Paris for my last week, I was able to see the magnificent Georges Braque show at the Grand Palais. This is certainly the best show I’ve ever seen of this underappreciated genius. While Pablo Picasso is present he does not dominate as he has in exhibitions I have seen in the past. If I were still in Paris I would visit this exhibition on a weekly basis. It’s a breathtaking exhibition that allows you to follow his constantly transformative artistic journey.
Braque at the Grand Palais.
Georges Braque's L'Echo, 1953/1956, Nahmad Collection, Switzerland.

Here is a fun film they did for the show.
I met my host Ralph Loeffler for a reception at Nose [www.nose.fr] — the amazing fragrance boutique cofounded by Nicholas Cloutier a couple of years ago on the rue Bachaumont in the 2nd arrondissement. The Québécoise Cloutier is not only good-looking and stylish, but brilliant.

He has created a database of over 6000 fragrances and one spends about 15 minutes on an iPad mini answering questions about one’s preferences for fragrances and after two stages of blind smell tests four fragrances are isolated that are available in the shop and that best fit one’s preferences.

My selections were sprayed on the top of my two hands and wrists and then Nicholas encouraged me to go have a glass of wine and a few cigarettes and let the scents react to my skin chemistry. 15 minutes later I had decided I didn’t like the two on my left hand but loved both on my right. I ended up with Floris’s Santal — which now is my favorite cologne!
Nose, rue Bachaumont, on a rainy day.
And on a sunny day,
I met Nicholas the night before at a dinner with Ralph and his partner Christian Schütt hosted at our neighborhood favorite Le Square Trousseau — joining us was the beautiful former model and filmmaker Hedvig Maigre and perfumer James Heeley.

James’s fragrances are sold at Nose, but he also has a shop of his own in Paris at the passage du Désir [www.jamesheeley.com]. Christian runs the photographer and stylist agency Bird Production representing some of the best talents in fashion and beauty including photographer Andrea Spotormo and stylist Charlotte Collet [www.bird-production.com].
Nicholas Cloutier at Nose.
Taking the iPad mini questionnaire at Nose.
The scent bar at Nose.
After spending a couple hours at the Nose reception (I must say that fragrance and beauty world seems a lot more sensual than the art world these days), Ralph and I went to dinner at fashion editor and stylist extraordinaire Barbara Baumel’s house in the 20th arrondissement. It was a family affair with her husband Maurice de Menthon, son Theophile de Menthon, niece Raphaële de Broissia (currently studying art at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris), and another niece Inés De Broissia and her husband Pierregil Fourquié together for a delicious dinner. Barbara is now editor-in-chief of a new (to me at least) glossy magazine called 7 Hollywood that is scheduled to come out twice a year. The next issue is due out next month.

The next day I met Eliane de la Béraudière at The Berkeley just off the Champs-Élysées for lunch. I used to stay at her beautiful house just outside of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue near Avignon.
Lyssa Horn, and her cute dog Scruffy, took me to a post birthday lunch at Ma Bourgogne on the Place des Vosges.
Place des Vosges.
These days Eliane is involved with Sidaction — the HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy charity begun in 1994 and presided over by Pierre Bergé. Every year Sidaction throws a big fundraising Dîner de la Mode et Sidaction at the end of the Paris Haute Couture collections. The next one takes place January 23, 2014. For more information go to: www.sidaction.org.
At this year's Dîner de la Mode et Sidaction: Inès de la Fressange; Jean Paul Gaultier and Valérie Lemercier; Juliette Binoche (Photos: © Abaca)
Last Thursday, William Foucault invited me to join him at the Musée Cernuschi for an amazing exhibition of Chinese bronzes from the 10th to 19th centuries collected by the founder of the Museum. Afterwards, I was William’s “date” for dinner at the amazing art filled-apartment of American-born Robin Tait and his wife Vigdis at the Hotel Lafayette, a grand apartment in the hotel particulier where the famous French participant in the American Revolution once lived.
A bust of founder Henri Cernuschi at the Musée Cernuschi.
The Marquis, who was granted American citizenship for his role in our war of independence, died there on the rue d’Anjou in 1834. We shared a delicious dinner with Baltimore–born American expat Jane Nes and Andreé Audi. An amazing portrait of Thomas Jefferson, drawn when he was the American ambassador to France, is prominently displayed in the Tait’s dining room.
With William Foucault on the bus headed toward Robin and Vigdis Tait's dinner.
The staircase at the Hotel Lafayette, rue d'Anjou.
The beautiful Norwegian-born Vigdis is a painter of a kind of fantastic contemporary “magic realism” — her painting "Scène de ménage" will be shown in an exhibition at the Grand Palais December 4-8. Robin’s mother Katharine Lamb Tait (1895-1981) was one of the preeminent designers of stain glass windows in America during the middle of the 20th century. She was the daughter of Charles Rollinson Lamb — heir to the J & R Lamb Studios that predated the studios of both Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge as major stained glass designers. They were chosen to represent the United State at the Paris International Exposition of 1900.
Vigdis Tait's Scène de ménage.
Vigdis Tait's Europe n°1.
Lastly, I was flattered to learn that thanks to my enthusiastic piece on the Musée Carnavalet, by chance, David Rockefeller and his granddaughter Miranda Kaiser, on a short excursion to Paris, were welcomed for a visit last week to the museum by director Jean-Marc Leri and his staff.

Now, back in a beautiful and autumnal-feeling New York I am thankful to have had such a wonderful two months to write my book in Paris due out next year. But more on that later .... The first thing I received after returning to Bloombergian New York was a parking ticket. What did I miss about New York while away? Getting my shoes shined! It is impossible in Paris.
Hiro with my luggage sending me off to Charles de Gaulle.