Archive for February, 2009

Exurbis, let’s explore the city

While I was randomly surfing the web, looking for some details of some Paris event, I went from website to website and eventually arrived at…. Exurbis.

This blog suggests that we follow the author through “urban exploration” of Paris. Going on the roofs or underground… in places where you don’t expect to meet many people…

Illustrated with many pictures, it’s a very interesting read! You should go take a look ;)

Also, I’d like to mention the fact the this blog is available both in French and in English, which I find most admirable. Even though it’s not an exact translation: there is, from what I gather, basically a French blog and an English one, which do not contain the same posts. Still a most brave endeavour :D (You may remember how torn I was / am about which language I should use here…)

The Sale of Lots 677 and 678

The final auction tally came up to €374,392,500. Not shabby at all at times of recession and economic downturn. Soon all these work of arts and treasures will be placed in crates, packed away and delivered from Paris to the homes of their new owners. I do hope plenty of these will go to the AIDS research foundation as promised, and not just some token sum while someone else pocketed a whole lot of profits.

The most controversial sale came from the auctioning of lots 677 and 678 – featuring two rare Qing dynasty bronze sculptures, depicting a rabbit head and a rat head, which were part of a set of 12 that represented the 12 animals in Chinese Zodiac. They were sold at €15,745,000 each to unknown/private telephone bidder(s). Just as well, because I fear whoever that bidded for them openly may find themselves mysteriously disappear or something… (Sorry I’m being very cynical but with a good reason.)


This is a rather contentious issue. In China, those interviewed by foreign journalists believed that these two relics should be returned to the rightly owner – China. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage even brought this to court, but their filing was shot down by the French court. Rightly so, in my opinion.

Afterall, while Chinese authority is indignantly demanding for what they believe they have a claim to (in a way, they do but very very technically, these belonged to the past Emperors but since they decided to do away without the Imperial powers… just sayin’) their behaviour is nothing short of a bully at the playground who wants everything his way or else… Oh their contempt at the failure to block this sale is evident from miles away.

How conveniently they never mentioned Bergé’s offer to re-gift the relics back to China. “I would be very happy to go myself and bring these two Chinese heads to put them in the Summer Palace in Beijing. All they have to do is to declare they are going to apply human rights, give the Tibetans back their freedom and agree to accept the Dalai Lama on their territory.”

Of course, to accept this offer would mean an acknowledgement of their own looting of other customs and cultures, and their lack of respect for human rights. Therefore, from my point of view (and echoing many who are pro-human rights and in favour of a free Tibet) – “Until they return the rights of others along with the looted treasures they got away with, they can shut up”.

(I am so never going be issued a visa to visit China from now on, am I?)

Quick update on the auction of Collection YSL/PB

So, were you one of the people who queued for several hours just to get a glimpse into the marvellous art collection of YSL/PB? I certainly didn’t, and instead spent my time browsing the catalogue online.

The first of the auction sessions started today, at 7pm in the evening, in Paris. The organisation of the auction is unprecedented, with seatings prepared to accommodate over 1000 buyers, with additional 100 telephone lines for off-site bidding. My my, if only I live in a world of richesse to afford them. There were some seriously handsome pieces of Matisse, Gris, Vuillard and Leger on the block.

The entire collection is expected to fetch up to €300 million but the punters are obviously willing to shell out more, despite the difficult economic time. The sale from the first session alone has so far amassed in a whopping €206 million (check out what was sold at which price)!

While many pieces are obviously sold at higher bids than expected, the star piece of the first session – Picasso’s “Instruments de Musique sur un Guéridon” – failed to reach the minimum price of €30 million and instead attracted a highest bid of only €21 million.

In case you wonder where all the money from the sales is going to go to, the proceeds will be used to help create a new foundation for Aids research.

Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé

For a couple of arts lovers and collectors to have a few pieces of acclaimed pieces is great. But when a couple of art lovers and collectors to own an impressionable collection that is large enough to host its own museum exhibition, that’s just simply amazing.

If you have not yet heard, following the recent death of Yves Saint Laurent, the art collection that he worked on acquiring in his lifetime, together with Pierre Bergé will be going on auction by Christie’s in a few days time. But from yesterday to tomorrow (yes, very limited time!) there is an once in a lifetime opportunity to have a glimpse into the marvellous collection that will soon be sold to various bidders and be despatched on special delivery worldwide.

Art collection of YSL and PB

Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, photos from Christie's photoblog

The collection is now on exhibition in Grand Palais, so don’t miss out on this chance to check on the 733-pieces collection. Entry is free, but expect the queue to be long. The pre-auction exhibition will end on Monday afternoon, as the first (of six) auction sessions will start on Monday evening at 7pm with the sale of Impressionist and Modern works including pieces by Mondrian, Léger, Picasso and Matisse.

Gosh, if I ever have such wealth to garner such a collection, I would be rather heartbroken to see it dismantled in such a manner. But hey, I doubt that I’ll ever be in such a position, so I guess I don’t really have to be concerned over something like this. Anyway, so go now if you could, otherwise, checkout Christie’s Special YSL photoblog to have a look at the items and photos of the preparations, exhibition and subsequent auctions.

Lunch at Parnasse 138

As Seurann mentioned a couple of weeks back, us three regular Paris Metbloggers went to the Picasso exhibition at the Grand Palais (together with another friend).

I personally enjoyed the exhibition very much. I mean, pretty much everyone knows what an artist Picasso was in his life time. In some periods of time, he produced something pretty much on a daily basis, making him one of the most proliferative artists of the 20th century. What I like most about this exhibition was the “side by side” concept. Picasso had painted plenty of famous artworks by other artists, but with his own twists. To see both the original concept and the cubist interpretation of them, that was something very powerful.

After our visit to the exhibition (plus all the queueing time) we were inevitably struck by hunger – time to grab some lunch! As we needed to part in different directions after lunch, we choose the area around Montparnasse to search for a place to eat, which suited all of us very well. Seurann had previously been recommended to check out Parnasse 138, so off we went there together.

Lunch at Parnasse 138

Lunch at Parnasse 138

All four of us went for the option of 3-courses menu at €14.20 each. Between us, we had three different starters, four different main courses, and three different desserts. If I recall correctly, Seurann and Bij both selected the same starters and desserts.

Our meals, as evident from the photo mosaic above, consisted of : starters – salad of lardon and goat’s cheese, duck terrine with green peppercorn, salad of tomatoes and shrimps; main courses – chicken in red wine and mushroom sauce served with tagliatelle, pork in prune sauce served with chips, steak tartare (raw minced beef with raw egg, capers, onions and herbs), boudin noir (blood sausage) with chips and mashed potatoes; desserts – crème caramel, chocolate mousse and poire belle Hélène.

The meal was hearty, simply prepared but delicious. I certainly enjoyed myself very much, and in general everyone was pleased with their dishes. I even managed to sneak a couple of bites off the girls’ plates, which is perhaps not something many would do, but I love food and didn’t want to miss the chance to just have a taste. ;-)

We were stuffed after the meal, which I promptly decided I needed to walk the meal off, since we’ve arranged to have an early evening cook-in with a few other friends. Had I not done that, I may not had been able to eat more during the second session, lol. Just as well the place that I was heading would take a good 20 minutes or so to walk to, and another 25-30 minutes to get to the wonderful apartment where the cook-in would take place. In any case, it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon so the walk was as leisurely as it could get.

Ah the bliss that Paris was… even an ongoing demonstration nearby didn’t do anything to put a dent to my day. Really, Paris is magical.

Les nuits de l’Alligator 2009

Blues is still alive!

The 4th edition of “Les nuits de l’Alligator” blues festival is starting on friday. Be careful, all concerts are NOT in Paris, but lots of them will take place at “La maroquinerie” (on the 16th, 18th ,19yh, 21st,22sd and 24th of february).

For the complete festival details check the festival website.

Booking can be made directly on “La maroqionerie” website.

CRS all over the place

Tis the season it seems…

More snow!

To illustrate this renewed event (though almost everything is gone now already), I would suggest you follow this link to Le Monde which regroups a number of pics of Paris under the snow this morning.

Now I’ll promise to make an effort and try to talk about something else than the weather next time. Demonstrations seem to be pilling up at the mo’, we’ll see…

I saw a dragon this week-end

from the parade Saturday near Hotel de Ville :D

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