L’Institut Giacometti in Paris: New and So Intimate!

A new spot dedicated to the famous Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) has just opened in Paris. It is called: L’institut Giacometti and it is not one more museum but a completely different place which enables to be admitted into the artist’s private life. One thought one knew everything about the sculptor whose works are so familiar. By visiting l’Institut Giacometti one realizes that one still has a lot to learn: a true delight!

an Art Deco Private mansion in Montparnasse

The building chosen to welcome the Institute used to be the house of the French decorator Paul Follot (1877-1941) and is a superb listed monument. It has been beautifully renovated, the interior design and the Art Deco period decorations are outstanding: panelling, furniture, fireplaces, stained-glass windows, tiled floors…

The private mansion is located in the area of Montparnasse, where so many artists used to live in the beginning of 20th century and where many artists’ studios can be seen or visited today. It is standing in a quiet street along the Montparnasse Cemetery whose trees can be seen from inside the house. Alberto Giacometti had his studio nearby, on 46 rue Hippolyte Maindron, from 1926 until his death.

The reconstruction of Giacometti’s studio

As soon as one enters the building, one is immersed in the life and works of the sculptor thanks to the reconstruction of his studio. One has a seat on one of the steps in front of it and admires the tiny studio where Giacometti used to work. Everything has been faithfully reconstucted: From the bed where the artist used to rest to his last sculptures and to the walls covered with drawings; and on the table, from the paintbrushes and pencils to his glasses and ashtray.

Giacometti’s studio had been immortalised by famous photographers such as Doisneau or Brassaï. It is part of the myth of the artist and a key to better understand him and imagine him live and work.

Such a close and intimate relationship with the artist is really unique and is part of what makes the Institute a must-visit!

The exhibition of never seen sculptures

The seventy artworks exhibited in the reconstruction of Giacometti’s studio had never been shown before. Some other masterpieces are exhibited for the first time by the Institute in the various rooms of the house. My favourite is the group of the Women of Venice (painted plaster 1956), remarkably exhibited in the library on the first floor: so moving!

Institut Giacometti-Paris-Women of Venice 1956
Institut Giacometti-Paris-Women of Venice 1956

I also like the Cage, which evokes the space of a room with a man and a woman whose spread arms suggest the opening of a curtain giving access to a world of pleasure. Not easy to photograph… I let you discover it during your visit!

Here are some other works:

Several temporary exhibitions will take place there all along the year. All of them will aim to come close to the life and work of Giacometti through another eye. The first one: ‘Giacometti’s studio as seen by Jean Genet’ makes the sculptor and the writer converse together. The interaction between both artists is beautifully depicted through their respective works. One can sit next to the fireplace and listen to Jean Genet reading his text, the Giacometti’s studio. And one can admire the beautiful Portrait of Jean Genet painted by the sculptor. Some photographs and videos show the friendship between the two men.

Institut Giacometti-Paris-View from outside
Institut Giacometti-Paris-View from outside

I highly recommend you the visit of this elegant and cozy place. As told before it is not a museum and one cannot buy tickets on the premises. One has to book in advance on the website of the Institute and choose a time of visit. Only 40 visitors are allowed per time slot, which reinforces the feeling of privacy and closeness to the artist. I love it!

Practical information : Institut Giacometti – 5 rue Victor-Schoelcher 75014 – Exhibition ‘L’atelier d’Alberto Giacometti vu par Jean Genet’ – Until 16 September 2018 – 10am-5pm – Advanced booking only

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog – www.goodmorningparis.fr

New and Unique in Paris: The Atelier des Lumières

The Atelier des Lumières opened its doors on 13 April in the trendy 11th arrondissement of Paris in a huge renovated industrial building. The place used to be a foundry covering an area of more than 3000 m2 during almost 100 years from 1835. Due to the international crisis the Plichon Brothers foundry closed in 1929 and the site was sold to a company specialized in tool manufacturing. The company closed in 2000 and the building was unused when it was discovered by Cuturespaces in 2013. This cultural business is well-known in France for its innovative and high-quality running of remarkable natural sites or historical buildings. Among the most famous: the Musée Jacquemart André in Paris or the Carrières de Lumière in the Baux de Provence.

The Atelier des Lumières in Paris is based on the same purpose as the Carrières de Lumière in the Baux de Provence and aims to offer to the public an impressive Art and Music Immersive Experience in a unique decor. There one does not look at an art work, one does not read about a picture or an artist but one is immerged into his time, life and works. Hundreds of cameras project thousands of images on the walls as well as on the floor.

Atelier des lumieres-Paris-Hundertwasser
Atelier des lumieres-Paris-Hundertwasser

One gets acquainted with the artist and his art works through the immersion into the images and the music. One lives the works and walks in the middle of them. The show is different on each section of wall, there is one image after the other in a riot of colours and sounds. One can either walk through the various spaces of the former foundry; stand or sit on a concrete seat, a stair or directly on the floor. And the show will depend on the place from which one looks at it, there is an infinity of combinations and one can see the same programme several times without having the same experience.

For its opening the Atelier des Lumières presents three successive exhibitions: a major immersive exhibition on Gustave Klimt; a short programme on Hundertwasser, a Viennese artist contemporary of Klimt; and an even shorter modern creation. The shows starts with Gustav Klimt…

The three programmes are shown continuously and one can stay as long as one wish. I looked at them twice with much pleasure… and I wish I had more time to stay and watch Hundertwasser a third time: so beautiful!

Such an unusual exhibition place is easier to describe with pictures rather than words… and even pictures only give a slight idea of what it is in reality. If you have never been to the Carrières de Lumière in the Baux de Provence, no doubt that you will be even more dazzled and surprised than me! As the first time is really amazing. And one more piece of advice: better avoid the weekends or the school holidays as the experience is more impressive when the site is not too crowded. I hope you will enjoy your visit!

Atelier des lumieres-Paris-Poetic AI
Atelier des lumieres-Paris-Poetic AI

Practical information : Atelier des Lumières – 38 rue Saint Maur 75011 – Exhibition Gustav Klimt – Until 31 December 2018 – 10am-6pm (10pm on fridays and saturdays)

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog – www.goodmorningparis.fr

Exhibition Ceija Stojka in Paris: So beautiful and striking!

A beautiful and striking exhibition is taking place at the Maison rouge in Paris until 20 May. For the first time in Paris the works of Ceija Stojka are exhibited. She is a Romani Austrian artist born in 1933. At the age of ten she had been deported with her family and survived three concentration camps. Many years later, when she was 55, she began to express her memories through writing, drawing and painting. She died in 2013.

In her poetic texts as well as in her naïf paintings one can hear in the same time the child and the mature woman who remembers. Ceija Stojka makes us live her carefree childhood in a gipsy caravan; her survival in concentration camps till the liberation of Bergen-Belsen; and her return to life and freedom, as if we were next to her. Her works are a vibrant voice for the culture, deportation and present condition of Roma. I had not seen such a beautiful and deeply moving exhibition for long!

In our gipsy caravan

The first room is dedicated to the carefree life of Roma before the war, a carefreeness and freedom that they will never regain : bright colours, idyllic landscapes, cheerful words…

The Hunt

The following room is called: ‘La Traque’. Several paintings show Ceija and her brothers and sisters hiding themselves in a garden in Vienna. One can see only their frightened eyes…

Auschwitz: 31 March-June 1944

From the third room no more carefreeness. Ceija Stojka had been deported to Auschwitz with her mother, brothers and sisters in March 1944. Her paintings now show huge black boots, flags with swastikas, huts surrounded by barbed wire, dead bodies, chimneys and crows…

Ravensbrück: June-December 1944

The next room is called: Ravensbrück. Ceija, her mother and her sister Kathi were moved and deported in the women’s concentration camp of Ravensbrück in June 1944, only two months before the terrible liquidation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Gipsy camp (2 August). Whether in Black & White or in colours the paintings referring to that period are deeply moving, and ‘les femmes de Ravansbrück’ is a true masterpiece.

Bergen-Belsen: January-15 April 1945

In January 1945 Ceija and her mother were taken to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, firstly by truck and then on foot. In this camp where no more food was given to the deportees Ceija and her mother survived among dead bodies despite cold, hunger and fear. On 15 April 1945 Bergen-Belsen was freed by the English troups; then set on fire to prevent the spread of epidemics which had already killed many deportees. The works exhibited in this room show life and death in Bergen-Belsen, as well as the liberation of the camp.

Back to Life

The last room of the exhibition brings us back to life. The walls are coloured again and one can see blue skies and sunflowers, and the sun and mother earth which both bring us life and hope. One can feel how the past, the present and the future are mixed up. Even if the paintings are now coloured and cheerful, the carefreeness expressed by the works in the first room has gone…

It is difficult to find the words telling all that one feels after visiting such an exhibition. I have introduced you to very few of the works exhibited: there are many other paintings and texts and some photographs as well. I hope that this general survey has tempted you. I really loved it! Moreover it was my first visit to the Maison rouge and I highly recommend you to discover this amazing cultural place near the Bastille… before its closing in the end of 2018.

And to end, some words by Ceija Stojka:

“If the world doesn’t change now – if the world doesn’t open its doors and windows – if it doesn’t build peace – real peace – so that my great-great-grandchildren have a chance of living in this world, then I’m incapable of explaining why I survived Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Ravensbrück.”

Practical information : Exhibition Ceija Stojka – La maison rouge-fondation antoine de galbert – 10 bd de la bastille 75012 – Until 20 May 2018 – wednesday till sunday: 11am-7pm (9pm on thursday)

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog – www.goodmorningparis.fr