Category Archives: Art

Paris Magnum © Hotel de Ville


This is what I adore about Paris!  I could virtually dedicate a day just visiting exhibitions and they come so aplenty!  Why not?  It’s only a 40-minute train journey  from our suburban home  so I might as well plan my trip.   The good thing about Parisian exhibitions is, a lot of them are free so it’s not really a bank-breaking leisure activity.  So after seeing the Klimt exhibit  (which I don’t mind shelling out 16.50euros because the works on display were carefully transported here from Vienna), I went to see the free-for-all  “Paris Magnum”  expo at the Hotel de Ville.   “Magnum Photos” is undeniably a legend and a visit to one of its exhibitions is the ultimate dream of serious photographers, moreso for  aspiring  street photographers like yours truly!

A total of 130  iconic images of photojournalism pioneers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa,  Marc Riboud, Raymond Depardon, Martin Parr, Elliott Erwitt, among others, are displayed in one room of the Paris City Hall depicting the capital’s metamorphosis from the late 1930s up to the present:  the trade union strikes,  the liberation of Paris, the student protests, the war in Algeria, the 1968 student protests, the arrival of the mini-skirt, the creation of HLM’s (socialized housing), politics, celebrities and the day-to-day scenes of Parisian life.

Photography is not allowed so all these photos you are seeing, except the first one above, were gathered from the net so as  to give you a flavor of what they are like.  And after browsing on them, you be the judge why Street Photography is so special.  We, photographers, are historians in the making.  What we take now becomes a historical evidence for future generation to discover.

“There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”- Henri Cartier-Bresson


Spectators at Longchamp Racecourse, 1952 © Robert Capa

1953 © Marc Riboud

Paris, 1949 © Elliott Erwitt
Here are the beginnings of the photographic work of Elliott Erwitt: a mix of spontaneity, mockery and humor.

View of  Notre-Dame, 1953 © Henri Cartier-Bresson

In front of the Fouquet’s on the Champs-Elysees, 1970 © Elliott Erwitt

-French Teen on a boat along the Seine, 1988 © David Alan Harvey

Zazou, the painter of the Eiffel tower, 1953 – © Marc Riboud

Paris, 1967 © Raymond Depardon

Place de l’Europe. Gare Saint Lazare, 1932 © Henri Cartier-Bresson

Town of Saint-Ouen, 1936 © David Seymour

© Henri Cartier-Bresson

Picasso in his Parisian workshop,  1944.© Robert Capa

© Martin Parr

Rue de Vaugirard, 1968 © Henri Cartier-Bresson

Liberation of Paris,  1944 © Robert Capa

1996 © Gueorgui Pinkhassov

“Paris Magnum” at Hotel de Ville
From  12 Dec to 28 March, 2015

Gustav Klimt at The Pinacotheque, Paris

As I said earlier, I have always aspired to see a Klimt exhibition.  It’s  a dream that I thought will remain just that – a dream.

I’d almost done it in Vienna, Venice and few forgot-the-name cities but it would always fall through as the opportunity, simply, is not there.   So how half-ecstatic, half-resigned I was when we arrived in Paris earlier this month and there I saw the yellow banner on the Metro, announcing the Klimt exhibition at The Pinacotheque to start on 12th February.  Half-ecstatic because it is actually going to happen, half-resigned because I probably won’t be here to see it.  But pure luck was about to be on my side – H decided that we have to stay in Paris for a bit longer and that means, I will be here when it opens!

(Fast Forward)


So I’m here to talk about it and I’m still over the moon!  I bought my  ticket (16.50euros) online as I expected the queue to be kilometric, indeed it was and I was lucky not to have to stand up there for hours, but I felt a bit ripped off as the cost of the ticket indicated on the door is only 14euros!  Oh well, at least I did not freeze waiting in line like the others , I actually went straight in like a VIP.

Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918) was one of the most famous painters of Austria who also co-founded the Secession Movement (Art Nouveau style) in Vienna.    The exhibition entitled “In the Time of Klimt, The Vienna Secession” demonstrates the  development of the  Viennese Secession in the 19th century by displaying selected works of the artist (and some others).  Some of these works are less known to the world and I’m glad I saw them in their original state.


Gustav Klimt, Female portrait, c. 1804, oil on canvas, (from the Belvedere collection, Vienna)


Ernst Klimt (Gustav’s brother), Portrait of a baby on a sofa wearing a lace cap, 1885, oil on canvas, private collection

Ernst Klimt – Francesca da Rimini and Paolo. 1890.  Oil on canvas.   Belvedere, Vienna


Gustav Klimt, Study of a female head on a red background, 1897-1898, oil on canvas, Klimt Foundation, Vienna.

 Klimt has focused all his attention on the female figure, depicting them partly as sexual objects and  partly as supreme beings

Gustav Klimt, Woman on the chimney, 1897-1898, oil on canvas, 41 x 66 cm. Belvedere, Vienna.


Gustav Klimt, Portrait of a young girl, c. 1898, oil on cardboard, 38 x 34 cm. Private collection, Belvedere, Vienna


Gustav Klimt, standing female nude with a raised arm (Niké), about 1898

Gustav Klimt, Judith, 1901, oil on canvas, 84 x 42 cm, Belvedere, Vienna

Gospel of Matthew 14:6-11
But on Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before them: and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath, to give her whatsoever she would ask of him. But she being instructed before by her mother, said: Give me here in a dish the head of John the Baptist. And the king was struck sad: yet because of his oath, and for them that sat with him at table, he commanded it to be given. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
And his head was brought in a dish: and it was given to the damsel, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body, and buried it, and came and told Jesus.

Klimt painted the biblical character of Judith holding the severed head of Holofernes.  She is depicted here as a femme fatale. She looks down on the viewer, her mouth voluptuously open and with her right hand she strokes the hair of Holofernes.

This is the painting that left me totally spellbound!  Imagine getting  the chance to look up close at one of the most famous paintings in the planet.  It’s just a shame that photography is not allowed, but having said that, I stared at it like there’s no tomorrow, taking note at every single detail of the painting, the gilded frame, the engravings on it where etched the words “Judith” and “Holofernes”.

Gustav Klimt – Feu follet, 1903. Oil on canvas,  52 x 60 cm

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In 1902, Klimt created one of his most famous works, the Beethoven Frieze, for an exhibition of the Secession movement. The entire show was an homage to Ludwig van Beethoven.   Klimt’s monumental frieze greeted visitors in the entrance hall. Thirty-four meters wide and two meters high is this opulent, ornamental “symphony”; in which Klimt sought to immortalize Beethoven’s “Ninth” and its interpretation by Richard Wagner.   (

 Gustav Klimt, Reconstruction of the Beethoven Frieze, 1985 Mixed media on plaster stubble, 216 x 3438 cm. Belvedere, Vienna






This copy of the “Beethoven Frieze” was absolutely amazing!  Staring at the work reproduced on the walls of the Pinacotheque put me on the same state as if I was listening to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  Incredible.

My only disappointment is that, “The Kiss” is not there, unfair! Oh well, the next time I go to Vienna, I must go and see it.  At least,  I bought a big poster of it  that time and I am going to frame it – in wood painted in gold – and display it in my sitting room!

“Whoever wants to know something about me – as an artist which alone is significant – they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognize what I am and what I want.” – Gustav Klimt

Lost in Art translation

November is Month of Photography in Paris and I was thinking of submitting this photo for an exhibition.  But I was hesitant.  Is it good enough for a photo exhibition or not?  So in order to help me with my dilemma I asked my friends their thoughts.



Draft title:  Parking


Not long after, I received mixed comments.   Some  were “FOR”.  Some said “Hmmm… you have better photos…” .

I explained that in a Photo Exhibition, the entries are usually strange, sometimes weird, the meaning goes very deep, the relevance is not obvious.  And there is usually an element of mystery.


The next day, I went to the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris and saw this display of bricks on a bicycle.  So I went back to my friends and said:

“Voila!  Here is an example of what I meant about Art as sometimes strange, weird, etc etc…

It is an entry by a Brasilian artist for the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) going on in Paris right now.

The title of the work: “Clay bricks, Metal bicycle”


Now, now, I have been staring at the thing for what seemed to be ages but I really cannot come out with any interpretation.

Balance? Harmony?

So as soon as I got home I searched the FIAC site and at last, found the artist’s explanation of the art.

” Héctor Zamora was born in 1974 in Mexico. He lives and works in Sao Paulo.

The bicycle is a mode of transport that is fundamentally mechanical, inspired by a child’s first steps, and relative to the laws of movement and balance.

Here, the movement that creates balance is deceived by an ingenious device, which suspends motion in the air.
Héctor Zamora observes the astute and convenient maneuvers of workers’ activity, adds a Latin-American twist and transforms them into a portrait.

Workers, dynamics, and ideas of modular matter are recurrent motifs in the work of the Mexican artist, who discovers, in trivial, standard elements, the essence of movement.

Stacked and tenuous, the disposition of the modular red bricks destined for construction, suggest a solid edifice, nonetheless placed on an unstable vehicule, itself balanced on inflatable foundations.

Above the rubber tubes, supported by the immobile bicycle, rests the weight of a delirious composition of progress: Brazil.”


Hmmm… Now I understand.  He’s right.  And it takes a Brazilian to understand what he is trying to express here.

Here is another FIAC entry last year.  Again, it would be very interesting to know its meaning but I leave you to find out.

A few days later, I got my “Parking” photograph enlarged and framed, ready for submission to the Art Director.  And you know what?  I actually find it very nice beneath the glass.  Well, I’ll wait and see what happens!

To the Museum: Victoria and Albert

When H said ‘yes’ to my idea of a day trip to London while he attends to his business in the Southeast, the first thing that came to mind was a visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

We have been going backwards and forwards to England (as normal for someone with an English husband) but never have I set foot in this museum that I have heard so much about.  It has been, for ages, in my “list-of-London-places-to-visit” and it’s about time I see it!

The publicity poster at the South Kensington station

So off to the museum we went on that grey Thursday morning.  H (yes, he insisted that he must go, too!), SIL (sister in law) and myself arrived at the tunnel gate at about 11am.  A bit peckish after a train ride and 3 tube connections, we proceeded to the V&A café for some coffee and biscuit fix before starting the museum tour. 

I must say that sitting in the elegant V&A café was the most pleasant moment of the entire visit!  Imagine sitting there like the nobility, enjoying your coffee and mouthwatering tea biscuits ….

…while getting mesmerized at the stunning rooms, ornate decors, museum-like artworks from ceiling to floor!  And it doesn’t need digging deep into your pocket!  For the three of us, the 3 GBP per person is a give-away. 

While ambling between sculptures, I can’t help but notice through the windows the impressive Renaissance style facade of the building that surrounds a vast square courtyard.

It is called the Terrcota facade because it was constructed in modern, industrially produced materials: red brick and terracotta.


When I saw this spot (center of the photo) with the steel tables and chairs, I immediately recognized it as the location of a scene in “Last Chance Harvey” (2008), a light romantic film featuring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.  That was where the “still-getting-to-know-each-other-romantically” pair talked until dawn, exchanged a gentle kiss then agreed to meet at the same place that noon  but Harvey (Dustin) failed to show up because he was suddenly rushed to the hospital after a bout of heart palpitations and Kate (Emma) exasperatedly thought he jilted her.


One of the lavishly tiled staircases.

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Let’s start a quick museum tour from the Medieval Galleries.  The descriptive captions for each artwork shown here were taken from the museum’s online records.

The Virgin and Child with Angels, About 1510 – 15
Lower Austria, painted and glided limewood

This group was probably part of an altarpiece.  The flowing drapery and the dynamic flying poses of the two small angels and the infant Jesus all contribute to its vitality.  Christ holds a pomegranate, a symbol of the resurrection.

The Adoration of the Magi, About 1510 – 20
Austria, Tyrol, painted and gilded pine

The three wise men offer gifts of gold, frankincense and myrhh to the infant Christ, who sits on the lap of the Virgin while St Joseph watches intently from behind her.

The Entombment, About 1500, Northern France
Painted and gilded oak

The relief consists of nine pieces of wood joined together with several small wooden dowels and it shows Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea placing the body of Our Lord in the tomb, around which are gathered the Virgin, St. John the Evangelist and the three Maries.

The Virgin with the Dead Christ, About 1370 – 1400, Probably England
Walnut wood

“…. The wound of Christ show traces of colour, the lower part of the figure is slightly worm-eaten.”

The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, About 1510 – 15
Glazed and painted terracotta, Florence, Italy

Sunna by John Michael Rysbrack, About 1728-1730
Portland stone

Sunna is from a unique series of Saxon gods that Lord Cobham commissioned for his gardens at Stowe. Each Saxon god is traditionally associated with a day of the week, and Sunna represents Sunday.

Neptune and Triton by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, About 1622-1623

Carved pine
This work by the great Italian sculptor Bernini was one of the most celebrated sights in Rome.  It shows Neptune, god of the seas, with his son Triton who was a merman.  It was sold in 1786 and taken to England.

Turban Ornament, enamelled gold, Jaipur, 1st half of the 19th century
This turban ornament from the Royal Treasury depicting a peacock shows how Jaipur was considered to be the supreme center of enamelling in India.  In Jaipur, the court remained the largest and most important purchaser of enamels in traditional form.

Wish-Fulfilling cow (Kamadhenu), About 1900-50
Painted wood, Tamil Nadu
In Hindu mythology, a Kamadhenu is a miraculous cow who can give her owner whatever he desires.  This example is a hybrid creature, with the body of a cow and the head of a woman, the wings of an eagle and the tail of a peacock.  It is used in the great street processions performed during south Indian temple festivals

The Hindu God Shiva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, 1100-1200, Chola Period
Copper alloy, South India (Tamil Nadu)

Holes in the base show that this image was carried in procession.  It depicts the great Hindu god Shiva performing a wild dance of creation and destruction.  In his hands are a drum as symbol of creation and a flame as the element by which the universe will be destroyed.  An aureole of flames represent the life of the universe.  Underfoot lies the dwarf of ignorance.

Part of a relief of the Buddha’s death (Parinirvana), 100-200, Kushan Period
Schist, Gandhara, Northwest Pakistan
By the Buddha”s bedside four disciples are grieving.  One disciple comforts the Buddha’s companion and protector, Vajrapani, whose thunderbolt has fallen to the ground.  A fifth disciple, possibly the last convert, Subhadra, meditates.  A water bottle hangs on a tripod next to the bed.  Such overt expressions of emotions derive from the late Hellenistic tradition, which strongly influence Gandharan art

Mantua or court dress, 1740 – 1745
Silk embroidered with coloured silk and silver thread

This mantua and petticoat represent the grandest style of court dress.  The skirt made it necessary for the wearer to go sideways through the door but had the advantage of displaying a large area of lavish decoration.  Botanically accurate flowers were a feature of Rococo embroidery patterned silks and printed textiles of the 1740s and 1750s in England

George III, Prince of Wales in a Rococo frame, about 1751
This is one of the most elaborate English carved Rococo frames to survive.  The exceptionally bold carving features animals, scrolls and foliage typical of the Rococo style as well as military trophies. 

The 11-metre high, blown glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly at the V&A’s grand entrance.

….each separate glass element of the V&A Rotunda Chandelier was either free-blown, or was mould-blown into ribbed moulds. Each element is coated inside with polyurethane adhesive and was tied on individually with stainless steel wire to an armature welded from steel rod. A team of six started wiring on from bottom to top and took over five days to complete the work.

Netsuke, Octopus,  between 1700 – 1870
(about 1 inch in height) 

Traditional Japanese costume had no pockets so everyday objects such as seals, tobacco and medicine were carried in pouches or boxes.  These were hung from a cord which passed behind the wide belt (obi).  The netsuke was tied to the other end to prevent it from slipping down and allowing the pouch or box to fall.  Netsuke were often worn with the miniature medicine containers called inro.

Eve listening to the voice, 1842

Marble, by Baily, Edward Hodges, born 1788 – died 1867 (sculptor)
This figure depicts Eve listening to the voice of Satan in the Garden of Eden, a subject probably inspired by John Milton’s religious epic poem Paradise Lost (1667 )

Peasant woman nursing a baby, Aimé Jules-Dalou, 1873

The Prodigal Son, Auguste Rodin, About 1885 – 1887

Two plaques located on a wall in the garden commemorating Henry Cole’s* dog Jim and another ‘faithful dog’ Tycho.
* Sir Henry Cole (1808–­82) was the first Director of the South Kensington Museum, renamed the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1899.

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Above are just few of the tens of thousand pieces displayed over four floors, in 11 kilometres of galleries, which include paintings, photography, furniture, fashion, jewellery, ceramics, glass, silverware and architecture.  A day tour is simply not enough and I shall return and spend an entire day to see more of it…and another entire day for some more…

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Some facts about the V&A:

– entrance is free except for the special exhibits
– photography is allowed except in the Jewellery Galleries and those rooms that specifically prohibits it
-cloakroom facility is free
– there’s a canteen especially reserved for eating your home-prepared food, free access

Next in “A Pinay in Europe”:  The Natural History Museum