Salon des Refusés

From the mid 18th century until the end of the 19th century, every year or so the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris would take place in what was called the Salon. Seen as a preserver of traditional French painting standards of content and style, the Académie’s authority on art was undisputed as the works exhibited were selected by a jury of awarded artists. This inevitably meant that there were many works of art that did not make the cut. And so, sometime in the 1830s exhibitions displaying these works started popping up across Paris: Salon des Refusés – Exhibition of Rejects.

In 1863 the most famous Salon des Refusés took place. In that year, artists protested the Salon jury’s rejection of more than 3,000 works, far more than usual. “Wishing to let the public judge the legitimacy of these complaints,” said an official notice, Emperor Napoléon III decreed that the rejected artists could exhibit their works in an annex to the regular Salon. Among the works exhibited were Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (above) and Whistler’s Symphony in White no 1 (below).

While many viewers came only to laugh, the Salon des Refusés drew attention to the existence of a new tendency in art and attracted more visitors than the regular Salon. That new tendency was Impressionism.

Now, in my own way, I too have created a Salon des Refusés. But I like to think that mine are legitimately rejects. I cannot even begin to explain how painful it is to see a bowl not turn out at all as I had hoped it would. Pottery is such a long process… takes ages to finish each piece… Although I normally try to focus on the positive – it’s all a learning curve, etc. – it still is bloody annoying when things just don’t work out as I had expected them to!

Centre Pompidou

In the last (for now at least) of a series of bowls inspired by Parisian landmarks, herewith my Pompidou bowl:

The Pompidou Centre houses the Bibliothèque publique d’information, a vast public library, the Musée National d’Art Moderne which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe, and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research.

And that’s me just outside it about 3 years ago. We spent the day in Paris and decided to explore the city by renting velibs. Not surprisingly, I brought my helmet with me.

Louvre Museum

It’s been over 10 years since I first (and last) visited the Louvre Museum. I was in Paris with my best friend at the time. We were on a bus tour of Paris and Brussels…we got there by bus too, from our hometown in northern Spain. It was dirt cheap – and it included hotel accommodation and meals as well. The catch? Well, the trip was organised by a certain political party my best friend was a member of. For me to go, I’d have to pass as his girlfriend. This was easy because we’d known each other for 6 years by then and were obviously close. We also had lots in common, which made things easier: we both loved Madonna, his grandma’s jewels, putting on high heels and learning to roller-blade! Need I say more 😉

When we arrived in Paris, we were on a mission: see as much as we could in the 8 hours we’d be in the capital. There wasn’t a moment to lose, sit-down lunch was for pussies as we could walk and eat at the same time. Genius. And so we walked like no other tourists have I don’t think… fueled by our insatiable appetite for Paris in every possible manner. As for the Louvre, we also economised our visit: we’d arrive late enough that tickets would be cheaper AND we knew our 3 stops: (1) the Mona Lisa (2) the Victory of Samothrace (3) the Raft of the Medusa. They were all near each other so it was very easy to be in and out of the Louvre in approx 30 minutes.

The rest of our bus had agreed to meet up for a group dinner before heading back to Spain. But my friend and I decided not to go and do our own thing: walk to the Pont de l’Alma, where Lady Di had found her tragic end. By the time we got back to the bus, everyone felt betrayed that we’d decided to ditch dinner plans with them [And that’s why going on political organised trips is such a dumb idea]. But things got even worse during the overnight journey back home… You see, they’d all had a severe case of food poisoning from the Parisian dinner they’d had, and practically everyone ended up throwing up in brown paper bags all the way back! Everyone that is, except for my friend and I. And we probably have never felt more smug in our entire lives. MWAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAA!!

You may wonder if our little lie was uncovered… Truth is, it wasn’t. But it was painful to see the women in the trip talk about the signs they’d seen, but not be able to add 2 and 2 together. “You know, relationships are hard”, one would tell me, “but it looks like you have a lot of trust in each other”. This comment was uttered after my friend was outrageously flirting with the driver of our bus. “He’s practicing his French very well, don’t you think?” said another, when my friend (who does NOT speak a word of French) was chatting up the bellboy of our hotel in Brussels.

Place des Vosges

Last time I was in Paris was unfortunately for a short 12 hours. Over half of which were spent in meetings. Still, between 5pm and my Eurostar back to London later in the evening, I managed to meet up with a good friend from Canada who coincidentally was in Paris for a holiday. As time was tight,  we decided we’d just go for a VERY LONG walk through the city….and ended up in the Place des Vosges!

Built in the early 17th century, la Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris. And, as you can see from my awesome sketch below, it’s gorgeous. But, in my opinion, what makes it even more special is the fact that it has had a very impressive list of residents live there, including the French writer Victor Hugo and the evil and super nasty Cardinal Richelieu from The Three Musketeers.

In what seems to be a whole series of bowls of Parisian buildings I absolutely adore, herewith my Place des Vosges bowl:

NOTE: The brilliant panoramic image of the Place des Vosges is from Wikipedia.

Champs-Élysées

Paris is in fashion. But has it ever been out of fashion? No, but I do think that lately there is a wave of All Things Paree in the design world. Pinterest, for one, has a never-ending stream of boards and pins on its style and architecture, and brands like Kate Spade are clearly influenced by Paris in the 60s.

There are so many landmarks in the beautiful French capital I find it difficult to write about each of them and not sound incredibly pretentious, patronizing and try-hard. So today it’s all about the Champs-Élysées, how it’s inspired great songs:

great sketches:

and even better, awesome ceramic bowls done by yours truly:

NOTE: The source of the Champs-Élysées photograph is via Travelling Colours.