Tag Archives: Paris

This Inspiring 3D Installation Has Taken Paris By Storm

A Japanese tech firm, teamLab, known for creating stunning 3D installations is showcasing some of its best works from May 4 to September 4 at La Villette, an expansive exhibition hub in Paris.

Get close and personal with a waterfall like never before at teamLab’s “Beyond the Limits” exhibition in Paris.

The exclusive event is scheduled right before Japonismes 2018, a cultural event marking the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and France. The astounding spaces are created by a massive array of computer-controlled digital projectors.

As part of the inviting 3D spread, one can experience, the “Universe of Water Particles on Au-dela des limites” – an enormous waterfall projected on a wall 11 meters high and 26.5 meters wide. Amongst other gaze-worthy installations are the “A Whole Year per Hour / Flowers and People, cannot be Controlled but Live Together” which basically showcases flowers blooming, growing and eventually shedding their petals in a never-ending cycle.

Visitors can also lie down on many of the digital images and virtually feel them for a more, life-like experience.  Most of the images are interactive: changing according to the participant’s position and physical touch, almost creating a shared virtual reality. Beyond the technical brilliance the images and sounds are simply gorgeous, and ever changing.

Per TeamLab leader Toshiyuki Inoko, “The exhibition will inspire people to rethink about boundaries in their daily lives and across the world.” And we second that thought in 3D!

Enter the enchanting space and glimpse into the brilliant minds of an extremely creative and generous team of artists that simply defies the boundaries of creativity and imagination.

Le Dîner en Blanc 2018: Interview with Alexis Lhoyer, Guillaume Chabrieres and Jasmine Tuan

Currently, in its 6th year in Singapore, Le Dîner en Blanc 2018 is confirmed to be held on Saturday, 12 May 2018 at a secret location only to be revealed at the last minute. The concept of this elegant picnic is to simply: Pack a set of foldable table and chairs along with white dinnerware (no disposable plates and cutlery allowed), get dressed in not cream, not ivory but your best white ensemble and gather at an assigned departure location where you’ll be taken to the undisclosed location. The secrecy of the venue makes for an interesting conversation for friends to curate their outfits.

Over the course of the night, attendees get to enjoy a three-course one Star Michelin meal and drinks – all to be pre-reserved on the e-store, accompanied by fine entertainment under the stars. Le Dîner en Blanc 2018 marks not just another edition in Singapore but the event’s 30th anniversary since its first introduction in Paris. Years in the making and spanning across almost 80 cities internationally, the fundamental concept of the event remains the same – a celebration of life, friendships and community spirits through good food and great hospitality. Now, regarded as an international epicurean phenomenon. For those who are lucky enough to secure a spot for this most exclusive of events, here are a few things that you can expect for the coming edition:

Le Dîner en Blanc 2018: Interview with Alexis Lhoyer, Guillaume Chabrieres and Jasmine Tuan

Le Dîner en Blanc is ever so much more than just a collective meal, how do you keep each edition fresh and a step higher than the last?

Alexis Lhoyer: Putting the Diner en Blanc together is always a challenge to find a new venue that will surprise everyone, as well as make sure the experience is seamless. But at the end of the day, it’s all about having a great food experience with friends, and we’re putting all our efforts into making sure it’ll be an unforgettable experience.

Guillaume Chabrieres: We constantly try to raise our game with more and more exciting venues. Finding the perfect location is always the most challenging part of Singapore.

Jasmine Tuan: We up our game by the secret venue we chose for the year, the entertainment and surprises we’ve lined up for the evening.

Singapore was the first Asian city to host the event in 2012. And now,Le Dîner en Blanc 2018 is going to be one of the few biggest versions outside of Paris. (To Alexis Lhoyer) How does it feel to be the man co-hosting this event in Singapore? 

Alexis Lhoyer: Hosting Le Dîner En Blanc is a very rewarding experience, but also a tough one. The whole team of hosts, all the volunteers, as well as a big part of our Chab Events team, works countless hours on personal time and late night to make it happen.

We try to bring in as much entertainment and experience as possible in the budget we have, and expectations are always very high so we work hard to please all the guests. However, it is also incredibly rewarding as the energy you get from thousands of friends and attendees happy, with a big smile on their face during the diner is tremendous.

For a country as confined as Singapore, finding a scenic location in Singapore that can house more than 2000 people is definitely a challenge. How do you go about the process of preparing for the secret location?

Alexis Lhoyer: Finding the perfect venue for the Dîner En Blanc is usually the result of more than 6 months of efforts. We start looking for a new venue directly after the end of the previous edition. Months of work are necessary to align all the government bodies, agencies, as well as suppliers to make sure the event can take place and run with a smooth logistic, even though for the regular guest, it looks like an easy feat as everyone is bringing their own tables, chairs and food!

How do you balance the cultural aspect of the dinner? How does the French and local culture translate to the Singapore edition of Le Dîner en Blanc – Food perhaps?

Alexis Lhoyer: Food is definitely one element, but also the entertainment, and ultimately, the landscape in which the diner takes place. We try to create the perfect blend of both cultures to make the experience interesting to all guests, both local and foreign!

Guillaume Chabrieres: One of my favourite parts is to see that every culture, the 4 dominant cultures in Singapore together with the Western guests really blend in this event. Everyone feels welcome to appropriate themselves the DEB by bringing certain types of food, table decor or dress up in white with little accessories that remind people of where they come from.

Jasmine Tuan: Guests can choose to prepare their own 3-course meal (Starter, Main, Dessert) or order dinner set menus curated by one Michelin Star restaurant Saint Pierre celebrity chef, Emmanuel Stroobant; SQUE Rotisserie & Alehouse; and Rocks Urban Grill & Bar. One of the menus comes with a vegetarian option too. Guests are very welcome to bring their favourite food or food that’s close to their heart, be it local dishes or fusion creations. Bring out that chef in you! We want to see what’s on your plate too! Hashtag us #whatsonmyplateDEBSG2018 #DinerenBlancSG #DEBsg2018

Speaking of food, will Le Dîner en Blanc ever be open to cater localised dishes like Laksa or Curry chicken, given that there would be a high chance of risking sartorial damage?

Alexis Lhoyer: We definitely welcome all kind of food. Le Dîner En Blanc is a celebration of both the culture of its country of origin, France, and the hosting country, Singapore. As we aren’t a full-fledged restaurant, we can only offer a limited selection of menus on our e-store, but people are free, and even more, encourage to cook and bring their own food! Remember the starting of the Diner En Blanc in France was a simple picnic!

Guillaume Chabrieres: Every type of food is welcome. People often think that the food has to be white too, the team always tries to share the right information for people to get ready the best way possible in terms of food. Jasmine is also doing a terrific job on social media with inspirational posts.

Jasmine Tuan: Ever since the 2012 Chicken Rice saga, Le Dîner en Blanc – International is very relaxed with the type of food guests are bringing. After all, this is an international event held in Singapore. Chicken rice is definitely a must! Laksa and Curry chicken too! Just be sure to bring your own white napkins for the napkin wave to announce the start of dinner and to protect your all-white outfit from potential food stains. Last year, at the VIF table, our guests brought White Pepper Crab, Chicken Wings, Dry-Seasoned Mee Siam, Shepard’s Pie, Marinated Capsicum Prawns, Salmon Tartare, and so on, to share.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the food presentation, taste and company.

Share with us your idea of an amazing night out.

Alexis Lhoyer: The best night out is the one with friends. Whether you are on for a big night out, or a simple catch-up, the people you are with are the key to the best night out. Spice it up with a few surprises or unplanned changes and you’re on for something exceptional.

Guillaume Chabrieres: Quality times, quality times, quality times. A perfect night out is all about spending a great time with your friends and loved ones. A perfect night out is always too short but at the same times filled up with a series of great moments.

Jasmine Tuan: A night filled with good company, delicious food, and lots of alcohol! (Haha) Be sure to order your alcoholic drinks from our E-store latest by 8 May, midnight! Guests are not allowed to bring their own alcohol. Alcohol will be on sale at the after-party. Cash transactions only.

Where do you plan to take Le Dîner en Blanc to next – anymore Asian countries in mind?

Alexis Lhoyer: We’d love to takeover Bali, as it’s such a beautiful island.

Guillaume Chabrieres: We’d love to takeover Bali.

Jasmine Tuan: We are thinking of Bali, Malaysia, and … surprise!

St Germain Apartment on Rue Bonaparte Paris

St Germain des Pres Bonaparte View

Situated on Rue Bonaparte in Paris, with an enviable address, this stunning apartment is just a short distant away from the legendary Saint Germain des Prés, Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots.

Sprawling over an area size of 173m² across the entire third level of the Haussmanien building, this St Germain des Pres Bonaparte View is valued at USD 5,308,075 and it is most distinguishable by its wrap-around balcony. Built with a gracious outlook, it is truly a luxurious haven and a prime destination where residents can look forward to live, laugh, dine, work and play, and meet a choice of interesting people the world over.

Touches of modern refinements

During the overhaul, work has been undertaken to transform this apartment into a plush and colourful living space – one that speaks of grandiosity, vitality and vibrancy. Perhaps, the designs are sensitive to the original history that took after the inspiration of the many periods’ charm, so much so that the residence’s original features have been retained, highlighting the beautiful fireplace, parquet flooring and library.

Step into the apartment, is the marble flooring and leading from this interior space into a spacious salon featuring a fireplace and dining room. Walk further down towards the dining table set, gives access to the Library with the television and the first suite.

“This suite has access to the balcony, as well as a dressing room and private bathroom.
Coming back into to the entrance, there is a classic hallway with the guest toilet and guest cloakroom.”

Enter the second suite, there’s an office area, dressing room, private bathroom and a hammam. “The kitchen is fully equipped with a dining area and a laundry room as well as air conditioning, security, home automation system for sound and lighting.”

The St Germain des Pres Bonaparte View features an elevator as well as a cellar, and 24 hours caretaker services are available to provide the necessary convenience. All in all, this sanctuary could probably make an excellent investment choice for those hankering after a coveted property.

For more information about the property, please visit FrenchEntrée.

Karl Lagerfeld Designs this year’s Claridge’s Christmas Tree

London’s Claridge’s on Brook Street, Mayfair is most happy to reveal Claridge’s Christmas Tree this Nov 22. This year, the tree is designed by Karl Lagerfeld, who is widely regarded as one of the fashion world’s most influential and a decorated designer of his time, and he is also at the helm of his eponymous fashion label.

Visionary, eclectic, and iconic, is what Karl Lagerfeld is! Over the years, Karl has put his fashion sense into designing more couture collection for the haute couture and has also spent his time being involved in a wide variety of fashion projects and art-related undertakings. And this year is no exception.

Image courtesy of Drapers

Think of Karl Lagerfeld, and you’ll be reminded of his white hair and his most prominent black sunglasses with high starched collars.

In the past years, Claridge has invited creative visionaries to redesign the tree according to the tastes and styles of the designers. Big names such as Dolce and Gabbana, Jony Ive and Marc Newsome, Burberry just to name a few, had done so and Claridge has always been pleased with the iconic designs. This is the eighth year and German designer, Karl was invited to flaunt his decorative skill.

This year, Claridge’s Christmas Tree will be designed by Karl Lagerfeld

Commenting on the collaboration, Karl Lagerfeld said: “Christmas trees are the strongest ‘souvenir’ of my happy childhood.”

This landmark in London has always attracted visitors and Londoners to admire the decorated tree. All the more, Claridge’s Christmas Tree is a big deal in London as it ushers in a significant season that marks the start of the festivity.

For guests and visitors to Claridge, let’s wait to find out very soon what’s in store for you this Christmas!

France awarded world’s top tourism destination in 2016

Audrey Hepburn once famously declared, “Paris is always a good idea.” Years later, it seems that the doe-eyed actress’s sentiments are still being echoed by many a globetrotter. Yesterday, the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced that France was once again the world’s top tourism destination in 2016.

For many, the news might come as a surprise, especially after the string of deadly terror attacks that the country’s capital has seen in recent years. It is apparent, however, that to the 82.6 million tourists who visited France last year, the city of romance — with its beautiful historic monuments and exquisite local wines — still held its appeal.

However, the figures did reveal a drop of over 2% from 2015. The figures in the US were dealt with a likewise blow, falling 3% to a number 75.61 million tourists. Not all countries suffered the same fate, though — as was the case for Spain. Hot on the heels of the US, the country came in third with 75.56 million visitors. The 10% jump in visitors from 2015 reflects Spain’s newfound role as an alternative to the lands of Turkey, Egypt and North Africa — all of which are prone to unrest in the volatile political climate of today.

This has certainly worked to the Spain’s advantage; the country seems to be attracting a well-heeled crowd, judging from the staggering $60 billion earnings it received from tourists last year. It was beaten from the top position only by the US, whose $206 billion earnings put it miles ahead of any other countries in the running. Thailand and China came in third and fourth respectively.

Meanwhile, the Brexit referendum has evidently taken a toll on Britain. After voting to leave the European Union last year, the British pound was significantly depreciated against the US dollar. As a result, Britain fell four places down to the seventh position, making only $34 billion in tourist earnings in 2016.

Exhibitions in Paris, France: The Organic Mechanic, Émeric Chantier at A2Z Gallery

Émeric Chantier, ‘A child’, 2017. Image courtesy A2Z Gallery

As natural as it is mechanical, Émeric Chantier sculpts vegetal material alongside industrial components to awaken the collective consciousness of humanity towards the environment. Through an unusual combination of dirt and wood against metal and polyurethane foam, his sculptures communicate the symbolism of daily objects and their cultural impact in great detail. Objects such as weapons and masks are emulated organically, with the organism growing unobtrusively despite the physical boundaries or limitations of the industrial materials of the sculpture.

With each sculpted figure, Chantier tries to encourage a double reading of it both macroscopically and microscopically vision. While many of his pieces are of miniature sizes, they elevate viewers into a gigantic perspective – therefore macroscopic – of the artwork. He believes that the power of nature will always prevail against human constraints, portrayed by vegetal elements growing inside even the smallest of nooks and crannies of the sculpture, therefore leading the viewers to take a detailed observation of each figure and inspecting it microscopically. “The observer loses the overview and is required to look more caring, more carefully to the environment in which he lives,” explains Chantier. “By seeing the sculpture in details, the public is led to a personal interrogation.”

The contrast between the ever-growing shrubs against the stark mechanical pieces reminds viewers to be conscious of their surroundings and to rethink their place in the environment. “It is not an act of ecological activist but a personal reflection on the function of our society,” Chantier declares. Looking at his piece titled ‘Cross’, viewers may refer to medieval art history of the martyr as the sculpture can be seen as a representation to how the environment suffered the consequences contemporary society’s action, bringing forward the question of how human should position himself against nature. Meanwhile, the mechanical womb enveloping the vegetal infant in the sculpture titled ‘Foetus’ can be interpreted as a man-made protection of nature, or instead an obstruction against natural growth. Chantier leaves it to the viewers to interpret his works, as he enjoys challenging the public’s eyes.

Émeric Chantier, ‘Foetus’, 2013. Image courtesy A2Z Gallery

Growing up in the suburbs of Montreuil, Paris, surrounded by fields and forests, Chantier has always felt a strong connection with nature. His fondness of manipulating Lego toys honed his skills as a sculptor from early on. He started to create sculptures to change the less-than-ideal situation at his last employment, fulfilling his longing for nature after his move to the capital for the job. He cited his inspiration as coming from his great-grandparents old house, where he would found mundane objects such as old plastic bottles of syrup and used cans, which he would turn into miniature vessels of nature.

When it comes to the technicalities of his sculpture, the artist has had previous artisanal training that taught him to experiment with many different assembly techniques. Chantier enjoys creating minuscule sizes as it implies quality, expertise and mastery of the gestures. It also signifies patience, tenacity and tenderness. He credits his affinity towards it to his childhood of making diorama Legos, a sense of accomplishment achieved every time he managed to create a miniaturised and precious universe.

Émeric Chantier, ‘A child’, 2017. Image courtesy A2Z Gallery

In a solo exhibition titled ‘Look at Me’, presenting at A2Z Art Gallery in Paris until 29 July, Chantier continues his unconscious critical responses towards environment and society through sculpting toys and weapons, in order to communicate the experience human body has in discussion with the ecosystem. He is hoping to find the balance between the collective awareness and personal questioning, and eventually creating a utopian system where humans can live amicably alongside nature.

This article was written by Wintang Warastri for Art Republik.


Art auction in Paris: Auguste Rodin’s sculpture ‘Andromede’ sells for $4.1 million

“Andromède” by Auguste Rodin.

Auguste Rodin’s white marble sculpture of the mythical Ethiopian princess “Andromede” fetched nearly 3.7 million euros ($4.1 million) at a Paris auction Tuesday, well above the top estimated price of 1.2 million euros. The rediscovered masterpiece—created in 1886-1887 and depicting the daughter of Ethiopian King Cepheus nude and asleep on a rock—was sold by the Artcurial auction house just as Paris is marking the centenary of Rodin’s death.

An exhibit of more than 200 of his works and those of artists he influenced is showing at the Grand Palais in the French capital until the end of July.

In 1888, Rodin presented the work to Carlos Morla Vicuna, a Chilean diplomat living in Paris at the time, as a gift, said Bruno Jaubert, Artcurial’s director of the impressionist and modern art department. It has been in the Vicuna’s family ever since. “For 130 years she stayed in this family of diplomats despite the members’ different foreign postings,” Jaubert said.

The work, one of five carvings Rodin created of the subject, is especially notable for the contrast between Andromede’s smooth finish and the virtually untouched roughness of the jutting slab of rock.

The $4.1 million sale price, while substantial, is far from the record set last year for a Rodin sculpture—his “Eternal springtime” marble sculpture of lovers sold for $20.41 million at Sotheby’s in New York in May 2016.

The Louvre Pyramid, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum

Parisian Louvre pyramid designer I.M. Pei turns 100

The Louvre Pyramid, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum

The Louvre Pyramid, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum

The Chinese-American designer endured a roasting from critics before the giant glass structure opened in 1989, with up to 90 percent of Parisians said to be against the project at one point.

“I received many angry glances in the streets of Paris,” Pei later said, confessing that “after the Louvre I thought no project would be too difficult.”

Yet in the end even that stern critic of modernist “carbuncles”, Britain’s Prince Charles, pronounced it “marvellous”.

And the French daily Le Figaro, which had led the campaign against the “atrocious” design, celebrated its genius with a supplement on the 10th anniversary of its opening.

Pei’s masterstroke was to link the three wings of the world’s most visited museum with vast underground galleries bathed in light from his glass and steel pyramid.

It also served as the museum’s main entrance, making its subterranean concourse bright even on the most overcast of days.

Pei, who grew up in Hong Kong and Shanghai before studying at Harvard with the Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, was not the most obvious choice for the job, having never worked on a historic building before.

But the then French president Francois Mitterrand was so impressed with his modernist extension to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC that he insisted he was the man for the Louvre.

The Socialist leader was in the midst of attempting to transform Paris with a series of architectural “grands projets” that included the Bastille Opera and the Grand Arch of La Defense.

Already in his mid-60s and an established star in the United States for his elegant John F. Kennedy Library and Dallas City Hall, nothing had prepared Pei for the hostility of the reception his radical plans would receive.

He needed all his tact and dry sense of humour to survive a series of encounters with planning officials and historians.

One meeting with the French historic monuments commission in January 1984 ended in uproar, with Pei unable even to present his ideas.

“You are not in Dallas now!” one of the experts shouted at him during what he recalled was a “terrible session”, where he felt the target of anti-Chinese racism.

Not even Pei’s winning of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the “Nobel of architecture” in 1983, seemed to assuage his detractors.

Jack Lang, who was French culture minister at the time, told AFP he is still “surprised by the violence of the opposition” to Pei’s ideas.

As the Louvre is the former palace of the country’s kings, Lang notes that “the pyramid is right at the centre of a monument central to the history of France“.

“The project also came at a time of fierce ideological clashes” between the left and right, he added.

The Louvre’s then director, Andre Chabaud, resigned in 1983 in protest at the “architectural risks” Pei’s vision posed.

The present incumbent, however, is in no doubt that the pyramid is a masterpiece that helped turn the museum around.

Jean-Luc Martinez is all the more convinced of the fact having worked with Pei over the last few years to adapt his plans to cope with the museum’s growing popularity.

Pei’s original design was for up to two million visitors a year. Last year the Louvre welcomed nearly nine million.

For Martinez the pyramid is “the modern symbol of the museum”, he said, “an icon on the same level” as the Louvre’s most revered artworks “the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace”.

The Eiffel Tower, now synonymous with Paris, faced opposition during the time of its construction

The Eiffel Tower, now synonymous with Paris, faced opposition during the time of its construction

Pei is not alone in being savaged for changing the cherished landscape of Paris.

In 1887, a group of intellectuals that included Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant published a letter in the newspaper Le Temps to protest at the building of the “useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower“, an “odious column of sheet metal with bolts”.

Sydney Town Hall, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Brutalist Sydney Map: Exploring architecture and design of Brutalist buildings

Molecular Science and Biochemistry building, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Molecular Science and Biochemistry building, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

The Brutalist architecture aesthetic has always provoked extreme reactions. Considered “concrete eyesores” in the past, the perspective has shifted considerably, yielding a rising popularity and even a “design icon” status. London-based independent city guide publisher Blue Crow Media has accordingly placed a spotlight on this genre. A Brutalist guide to Sydney was released Monday (following three previous Brutalist maps of London, Paris, Washington; a Brutalist Boston Map will also be available in Spring 2017). The publisher has also released other internationally-minded maps highlighting urban Art Deco and Constructivism.

Sydney Town Hall, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Sydney Town Hall, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Each two-sided guide includes a map, an introduction to the movement in the city, and stark black-and-white photographs. Details for each building include the precise location and the architects or practice responsible for the construction.

The Brutalist Sydney Map encompasses 50 of the most significant examples, within the city and suburbs. Lesser-known structures include the Buhrich House II (conceived by the émigré architects Hugh and Eva Buhrich) and the Eastern Suburbs Railway Vents (attributed to Mansfield Jarvis and Maclurcan). There are edifices that may need to be commemorated through the photographs, like the Sirius Apartments, by Tao Gofers and the former New South Wales (NSW) Housing Commission (likely to be sold without heritage listing), and Bidura Children’s Court, by former NSW Government Architect (now sold and likely to be demolished).

Bidura Children's Court, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Bidura Children’s Court, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Brutalism by the mid-1970s was well-adopted within the architectural practices of Sydney. The city’s luminous disposition seemed an ideal setting to highlight the textured surfaces of this architectural approach. Key to the adoption of this was the NSW Government Architect and the design architects of the NSW Public Works Department. The range of public projects in this style was pushed forward through collaborations with European-trained émigré architects.

Glenn Harper, a Senior Associate Architect and urban designer at Sydney’s PTW Architects, founded @Brutalist_Project_Sydney, and documented this aesthetic for the guide.

Stateroom Four onboard SS Joie de Vivre. Image courtesy of Uniworld

Luxury superyacht cruises in France: SS Joie de Vivre sails from Paris boasting onboard cinema and spa lifts

Stateroom Four onboard SS Joie de Vivre. Image courtesy of Uniworld

Stateroom Four onboard SS Joie de Vivre. Image courtesy of Uniworld

A luxury superyacht designed as an opulent floating hotel has launched on the Seine in Paris, as the rich person’s version of the ubiquitous sightseeing cruise.

Aboard the SS Joie de Vivre which translates to “Joy of Living”  there is no queueing like herd animals or jockeying for the best seat against selfie stick-toting tourists on the open-air deck.

Instead, guests board a luxury yacht equipped with a spa and wellness centre, onboard cinema, gourmet restaurant and opulent rooms decorated with handcrafted furniture, antiques and original artwork.

The vessel, which accommodates 128 guests, was christened in Paris this week by actress Joan Collins.

After sailing past Parisian landmarks alongside sightseeing cruises on the Seine, the SS Joie de Vivre continues its journey outside the city, to regions like Normandy, Bordeaux and Avignon in eight to 15-day cruise itineraries.

Guests slumber in sumptuous cabins that feature custom-designed Savoir of England beds, tufted velvet headboards, heavy drapes, Egyptian cotton sheets and marble-lined bathrooms stocked with luxury Hermès and L’Occitane bath and body products.

The Normandy cruise is pitched as the dream holiday for history buffs, as the itinerary takes guests through the medieval capital of Rouen, Monet’s postcard-perfect home in Giverny, Versailles and the famed Normandy beaches.

The 15-day Paris-to-Bordeaux cruise is pitched for oenophiles and gastronomes, with an itinerary that includes wine tastings and gourmet epicurean experiences.

Artists from Northern Ireland: Claire Morgan holds first solo exhibitions America and France

Claire Morgan, Gone With the Wind, 2008, wild flower seeds, kittiwake gull (taxidermy), nylon, lead, acrylic; 220 x 200 x 1100 centimetres in height, width and depth

Claire Morgan, Gone With the Wind, 2008, wild flower seeds, kittiwake gull (taxidermy), nylon, lead, acrylic; 220 x 200 x 1100 centimetres in height, width and depth

Visually arresting, Claire Morgan’s installation and paper works achieve their resonance by tapping into a sense of the uncanny. Bringing into question our perceived notions of organic life and movement, the animals in Morgan’s works are lifeless shells preserved through her skill as a professional taxidermist. Different species of animals suspended in motion move through spaces constrained by geometric pattern and regularity.

Morgan’s hanging installations are assemblages of organic and non-organic material brought into a meticulous and calculating order that serves to emphasise themes surrounding the human relationship to our environment, and the ceaseless ebb and flow of death and the regeneration of life. “Exploring the physicality of animals, death, and illusions of permanence in the work is my way of trying to come to terms with these things myself,” she says.

The artist was trained in sculpture at Northumbria University in England, and born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1980. Having exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo in France in 2009, Morgan went on to present to great acclaim, a solo exhibition titled ‘Life.Blood.’ at Galerie Karsten Greve, also in Paris. Since then, Morgan’s has participated in international shows across Europe, the United States and Australia.

There is a stillness to Morgan’s works that acts as a poetic juxtaposition to the active postures that many of her animal subjects possess. The environments they are situated within are immersive, densely overwhelming, and composed of delicate and painstakingly mounted materials that range from individual seeds to scraps of polyethylene and cellophane. Morgan acknowledges then, the fragility of these rigidly imposed spaces. Nevertheless, her subjects remain trapped wild animals caged in a perpetual quietude.

Claire Morgan, 'The Beauty and the Beast', 2012, watercolour, pencil on paper, 40.6 x 30.5 centimetres in height and width

Claire Morgan, ‘The Beauty and the Beast’, 2012, watercolour, pencil on paper, 40.6 x 30.5 centimetres in height and width

Morgan is also known for her “blood drawings”, works on paper that depict the conceptual process leading towards a completed sculpture or installation. Passionately gestural, the works on paper capture pathways of motion and energy that run through the final works, often alongside detailed renderings of the built environments that will eventually come to confine them.

Seen in relation to the completed sculptures, the paper works draw attention to the intentional construction of a mechanical order of straight lines and grids that is intercut by the order of nature. The organic lines of nature represented through flowing lines and animal forms gently but surely disrupt the linear composition of their surroundings. As we enter a period of global uncertainty, Morgan’s works inspire deep introspection within the increasingly relevant conversation of the human impact on environmental degradation and change.

Claire Morgan, 'My God-shaped Hole', 2016, residues of taxidermy process, salt, graphite, and mixed media, on paper on canvas, 100 x 100 centimetres in height and width

Claire Morgan, ‘My God-shaped Hole’, 2016, residues of taxidermy process, salt, graphite, and mixed media, on paper on canvas, 100 x 100 centimetres in height and width

Her first solo show in the United States, ‘Stop Me Feeling’ runs at Frist Centre for Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, from February 10 to May 7, 2017. Fondation Francès in Senlis, France, will display a solo show, ‘Resurgence My God-Shaped Hole’ from March to December 2017. In Autumn 2017, Paris-based Galerie Karsten Greve, will also present a solo exhibition of new works.

This article is written by Teo Hui Min and was originally published in Art Republik 14.

Famous paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci: Researchers decode Mona Lisa’s smile as happy

Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre museum in Paris.

Renaissance painter’s Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre museum in Paris.

The subject of centuries of scrutiny and debate, Mona Lisa‘s famous smile is routinely described as ambiguous. But is it really that hard to read? Apparently not.

According to an unusual trial, close to 100 percent of people described her expression as unequivocally “happy“, researchers revealed on Friday. “We really were astonished,” neuroscientist Juergen Kornmeier of the University of Freiburg in Germany, who co-authored the study, told AFP.

Kornmeier and a team used what is arguably the most famous artwork in the world in a study of factors that influence how humans judge visual cues such as facial expressions. Known as La Gioconda in Italian, the Mona Lisa is often held up as a symbol of emotional enigma. The portrait appears to many to be smiling sweetly at first, only to adopt a mocking sneer or sad stare the longer you look.

Using a black and white copy of the early 16th century masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci, a team manipulated the model’s mouth corners slightly up and down to create eight altered images four marginally but progressively “happier” and four “sadder” Mona Lisas.

A block of nine images were shown to 12 trial participants 30 times. In every showing, for which the pictures were randomly reshuffled, participants had to describe each of the nine images as happy or sad.

“Given the descriptions from art and art history, we thought that the original would be the most ambiguous,” Kornmeier said. Instead, to their great astonishment, they found that Da Vinci‘s original was perceived as happy in 97 percent of cases.

A second phase of the experiment involved the original Mona Lisa with eight “sadder” versions, with even more nuanced differences in the lip tilt. In this test, the original was still described as happy, but participants’ reading of the other images changed. “They were perceived a little sadder” than in the first experiment, said Kornmeier.

The findings confirm that “we [do not] have an absolute fixed scale of happiness and sadness in our brain” and that a lot depends on context, the researcher explained. “Our brain manages to very, very quickly scan the field. We notice the total range, and then we adapt our estimates” using our memory of previous sensory experiences, he said.

Understanding this process may be useful in the study of psychiatric disorders, said Kornmeier. Affected people can have hallucinations, seeing things that others do not, which may be the result of a misalignment between the brain’s processing of sensory input, and perceptual memory. A next step will be to do the same experiment with psychiatric patients.

Another interesting discovery was that people were quicker to identify happier Mona Lisas than sad ones. This suggested “there may be a slight preference… in human beings for happiness, said Kornmeier.

As for the masterpiece itself, the team believe their work has finally settled a centuries-old question. “There may be some ambiguity in another aspect,” said Kornmeier, but “not ambiguity in the sense of happy versus sad.”

New art museums in France: Architect Frank Gehry to design the LVMH Applied Arts Centre in Paris

The Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by Canadian-born American architect Frank Gehry. | © AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

LVMH will tap on the expertise of architect Frank Gehry once again to create a centre for applied arts beside the Louis Vuitton Foundation. The celebrated Canadian-American architect, aged 88, will be tasked with renovating and transforming a disused museum. The site is located a stone’s throw from the futuristic Foundation Gehry on the western edge of Paris in the Bois de Boulogne.

The new centre, to be called the Maison LVMH – Arts, Talents, Patrimoine (Heritage), will be created at an estimated cost of 158 million euros (US$167 million), of which 50 million to 80 million euros will be employed for asbestos removal. Stated a joint statement on the centre made by the luxury group and the City of Paris on March 8: “The new centre will be dedicated to artists, live performances and to the applied arts and French savoir-faire.”

The centre will include two halls for concerts, exhibitions and workshops, and a panoramic restaurant on the top floor. The project will be developed in “close collaboration with the heirs of Jean Dubuisson,” the statement said, noting that Dubuisson’s grandson Thomas Dubuisson, also an architect, has worked for Gehry at his Los Angeles base.

French President Francois Hollande attended Wednesday’s news conference announcing the project, along with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Gehry and LVMH Group’s Chief Executive Officer Bernard Arnault. Hidalgo said in the joint statement that the project “sends a powerful message to young generations: artisanal craftsmanship offers tremendous potential and opportunities that we encourage them to discover and seize.”

The original function of the eight-storey building to be revamped to house the art centre was a museum of folk art and traditions. The structure, designed in the 1970s by architect Jean Dubuisson, has been closed since 2005.

Art museums in Europe: Yves Saint Laurent Museums in Paris and Marrakesh opens October 2017

The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech

The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech targets fashion aficionados and the general public.

Fans of French designer Yves Saint Laurent can mark their calendars. Come October 2017, The Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, which works to preserve the legacy of the famous designer, will open two museums dedicated to his life and work.

The foundation has selected Paris and Marrakesh in Morocco as the locations in which 5,000 haute couture garments and 15,000 accessories will be on display. Also set to be featured are a thousand sketches, photographs and the like that the designer himself had archived since 1961, when he created his fashion house.

“Both museums are aimed at the general public as well as fashion lovers. Yves Saint Laurent was a major artist of the 20th century,” said the couple’s foundation in a statement.

The Yves Saint Laurent museum in Marrakech will open later this year. | Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech Photo © 2016 Studio KO Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech. Photo © 2016 Studio KO and The Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent

The larger museum in Marrakesh hopes to attract up to 700,000 visitors a year. Yves Saint Laurent owned a house in the Moroccan city and spent a great deal of time there over the years. It was essential to his inspiration in his work. The space will be located on Rue Yves-Saint Laurent near Jardin Majorelle, a garden that he and Pierre Bergé saved from development in 1980. It is also now home to a Berber cultural museum and cultural site that receives 700,000 visitors a year.

French architectural firm Studio KO is behind the 4,000 square meter structure that will comprise a museum with a permanent collection of Yves Saint Laurent’s work, a space for temporary exhibitions, an auditorium, a research library, as well as a café and restaurant.

The Yves Saint Laurent museum in Paris.

The Yves Saint Laurent museum in Paris.

The comparably smaller Parisian museum will be located in the historical couture house at 5 Avenue Marceau where Yves Saint Laurent designed his work for 30 years, from 1974 until 2002. The site has also been home to The Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent since 2004. Visitors will be able to explore a constantly updated display of the collection. The museum will also include visits to the former haute couture salons, as well as Yves Saint Laurent’s studio.

The Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris closed its doors in April 2016 in order to allow works to create the future museum to begin. Stage designer Nathalie Crinière and interior designer Jacques Grange is recreating an exhibition area that will be twice as large as the existing space. They are also refurbishing the designer’s couture house in the original style.

Jewellery exhibitions in Hong Kong: Van Cleef and Arpels presents animal clips inspired by Noah’s Ark

Elephant clips, © Van Cleef & Arpels

Elephant clips, © Van Cleef & Arpels

Elephants, foxes and peacocks are just some of the animals fashioned into exquisite high jewellery pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels in a sixty-piece collection called ‘L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’, or Noah’s Ark as told by Van Cleef & Arpels. They will be on show in a special installation at Hong Kong’s Asia Society from 10 to 26 March 2017.

The bejewelled clips in the collection take inspiration from a Jan Brueghel the Elder painting of the story of Noah’s Ark, ‘The Entry of the Animals into Noah’s Ark’ (1613), which shows a gathering of animals in a forest clearing next to a stream. According to the J. Paul Getty Museum where the painting resides, in 1609, Brueghel had been appointed court painter to Archduke Albert and his wife the Infanta Isabella, who built a menagerie in Brussels populated with exotic animals from all over the world. The artist was thus able to observe them in person, and render them in his painting.

This masterpiece was the starting point for this collection Van Cleef & Arpels, which has a tradition of adeptly reinterpreting cultural references in their unique language. Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels says, “The Maison often creates a dialogue between its own identity and heritage on one hand, and broad historical themes and references from other cultural spheres.”

Squirrel clips, © Van Cleef & Arpels

Squirrel clips, © Van Cleef & Arpels

‘L’Arche de Noé’ is testament to Van Cleef & Arpels’ creativity and craftsmanship. Each pair of bejewelled clips is a composed narrative in itself. Two squirrels rub noses over an egg-shaped 46-carat white opal, as if in glee at their fortune of foraging the treasure. A giraffe hangs its head ever so slightly, while its partner looks protectively into the distance, seemingly to plan their next move, their pink gold bodies resplendent with jewels for their characteristic spots. Then there are the dragonflies in flight, one featuring a 2.28-carat cushion-cut tourmaline and the other showing off a 3.27-carat garnet. The details in the clips are extraordinary, and the minerals and gems used stunning.

While most of the animals appear in complementary pairs, mostly in separate clips, a number on singular clips such as ladybirds perched on a single branch, and even in a trio with the kangaroo family where the mother is holding a little one in the pouch, there are mythical creatures that have been crafted as individuals: Pegasus, a phoenix and a unicorn. The unicorn clip, for one, is a captivating sight, with its head arched gracefully towards its back, its hooves in mid-stride and its long luxurious tail curled forward. The regal beauty, created from white and red gold, shows off round diamonds, marquise-cut emeralds, baguette-cut sapphires, turquoise, and Mystery Set™ sapphires.

To enhance the public’s enjoyment of these beautiful jewellery pieces, Van Cleef & Arpels has invited American theatre and visual artist Robert Wilson to create the immersive experience. Wilson has had an illustrious career that has crossed many artistic fields, from theatre and opera to paintings and sculptures. He has won many accolades, including the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale and the Olivier Award. Speaking about his work on the scenography for the installation, his first in the world of high jewellery, Wilson says, “The kingdoms of childhood, literature, and animals have always fascinated me, and yet I did not draw much inspiration from them to design this scenography. I would rather describe it as a journey along sensory sceneries, as the abstract and fancy-free immersion into a fairytale.”

Upon entering the installation, which was first shown in Paris at the Hotel d’Evreux in September 2016, the eye is drawn to the back centre of the room where a brightly lit skeleton of a boat is suspended surrounded by ceiling-to-floor video screens on the walls showing an undulating image of the calm sea, bringing to life the passage of Noah’s Ark. A selection of 40 jewelled animals appear to float in small glass boxes placed around the room. In the background, Arvo Pärt’s meditative ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ – or ‘Mirror in the Mirror’ – plays on a loop, to be interrupted by the sound of thunder followed by heavy rain before it stops all of a sudden to return to the lulling music.

The collaboration between Van Cleef & Arpels with Robert Wilson, both representing the highest standards in their respective fields, spells a magical experience to be had at the ‘L’Arche de Noe’ installation for one and all.

Art Republik spoke with Robert Wilson to find out more about his installation for L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels at the Asia Society Hong Kong.

What made you say yes to the project? What expectations did you have going in?

I said yes because it’s something I have never done before, so it was kind of a challenge. I went around when I was first asked to do the project and I went to jewellery shops, and… forgive me, but that was so boring. It was also very difficult to see the jewellery. It was either too busy or too noisy or something, and so I was thinking, how can I see these tiny little jewelled animals? What should the space look like? What should it sound like? What should the light be like? I started there.

Exhibition shot of ‘L'Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’ at The Hôtel d'Évreux in Paris, France, from 3 to 26 September 2016. Image courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Exhibition shot of ‘L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’ at The Hôtel d’Évreux in Paris, France, from 3 to 26 September 2016. Image courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

What were the ideas you had for the installation?

I wanted to make a rather calm environment, and I was thinking about this flood, this great body of water, this boat of animals. It is very curious that there were pairs of animals, so I started thinking about the number two: we have two, and a pair is one, so it is not one plus one equals two, but two equals one, and so you have this music that you hear in the background which is meditative and calm, but there is an erupted thunder, so there are intervals. It was a way of constructing sound in the space. I wanted to have a spiritual environment of light, but this is interrupted by something dark. I was thinking of this journey, this ark, to describe in the Bible. I did not see it as a religious story, but more of a spiritual story. And I was thinking originally to build a big ark or a boat, and you would enter it, and it just seemed all wrong. So, you see in this installation here a very small boat, and these jewelled animals are almost like navigation, like stars in a chart around the room. And if you think of Noah’s ark, the sort of flood, the vast sea of body of water, this is just this little speck, God looking down on it, so all those things are part of the construction of the space.

How do you integrate your past experience, given your work in theatre, design, and production, and translate it into something on a much smaller scale with this installation?

It has to do with the same concerns. How do I start? What is the first thing I hear? What is the first thing I see? What is the second thing? What is the last thing? And so it is time and space decisions which you make, and whether you are making an exhibition, or an opera, or ballet, or theatre, it is the same idea of constructing thoughts. I made the decision to make a space that was very calm, that allowed me to look closely at these jewels. But Heaven cannot exist without Hell. You have two hands, but there is one body, two sides of the brain, but there is one mind, so it is working with this duality as one, and that is the same whether you are making an opera or an installation.

You have done many different things across different genres. Have you ever felt like there was too much going on, or is it an inspiring way for you to work?

I do not think about work being work. I think it is a way of living. I do not think well, okay, now, I am going to wake up in the morning and I am going to go to work and then I am going to go home, I stop working and I am going to turn the TV on, and scratch the dog, and eat something, then I go to bed. To me, living is a way of being and thinking, and that is my work. I do not see so much difference between my work and living. It is all part of one thing. It is not like I go to an office, and then I go home, and it is finished. So, someone asked me yesterday, do you ever think about retiring? As long as I am living, I am thinking, I am working or… I guess I would retire if I am no longer breathing, but so far I have not stopped.

With the installation, you are integrating multimedia to create this multi-sensory experience for the audience. You have lights, you have sounds, you have these high-tech screens. What do you think about technology and its importance in helping you tell this story?

Yes, sure. I think that when we become mechanical, we become free, and we may learn to ride a bicycle, and the first time you try it, it is awkward, you are afraid of falling, maybe falling, but after a while you can ride the bicycle and you do not have to think about it. It is automatic, so I think that is freedom. I have a friend who is a ballet dancer, and I asked her a while ago how many ballets she knew. She said about 80. I asked her for one ballet what she does in a particular moment and she says that she has no idea, but when she is doing it, she knows, because the memory is in her muscle, and it is something automatic. So the mind is a muscle. I always loved when Andy Warhol said, “I want to be a machine”. Sometimes we are afraid of technology becoming mechanical, but I think that is freedom. My mother was very, very good at typing; she typed very rapidly. She said she liked to type because it gave her time to think.

Exhibition shot of ‘L'Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’ at The Hôtel d'Évreux in Paris, France, from 3 to 26 September 2016. Image courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Exhibition shot of ‘L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’ at The Hôtel d’Évreux in Paris, France, from 3 to 26 September 2016. Image courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

What is the one thing you return to time and again when you work?

When you create buildings, as an architect, it is all about light, and how to introduce light, and things about sound. Most architects do not even consider sound. Six years ago, I went for almost two months to Latin America, North America, throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, to architecture schools. And it was shocking, really shocking, that looking at the work of students, almost none of them were starting with light. That should be the first concern: as an architect, you start with light. Without light, there is no space, and I work in the theatre and it is shocking that people do the lighting two weeks before the premiere. I start with light. That is the first thing I do. The actors are there, but I work on the light, and the light would create the space, and then you can decide what to do in the space, and the light would completely change the space. The light, as Einstein said, is the measure of all things. Without it, there is absolutely no space. So start with light.

*A version of this article appears in Art Republik’s Mar-May ‘Crossover’ issue.

More information at vcaarchedenoe.hk.

Where to stay in Paris: A romantic getaway on Valentine’s Day at five-star Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris

Paris, is undeniably the dream destination for romantics. For decades, lovers have been heading to the French City of Lights with their significant other, aspiring to prove their love and faith – eventually by attaching a lock to the famed Pont des Arts. The bridge may now be gone, but the romantic spirit lives on in the numerous other establishments around the city and we take a look at one hotel that fits the bill: Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris.

Paris has much to offer visitors and each hotel in the city has its own magic spin that will lure you in. Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris, a boutique hotel located near the Faubourg St Honoré neighbourhood, joins the list of exclusive locations that one might turn to, to bring their loved one to. Situated in the same neighbourhood as haute couture Maisons such as Dior and Chanel, the exclusive hotel is a charming alternative to the luxury chain hotels around the city.

Buddha Bar Sunset party hotel paris

Sunset Party at Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris (©Christophe Madamour)

From the outside, the Buddha-Bar Hotel looks as it did in days gone by. The historic building, which was once owned by Augustin Blondel de Gagny, art collector and treasurer to King Louis XV, was constructed in 1734 and has stood tall through the many changes over the centuries. Transformed in a luxury travel establishment 20 years ago, it has maintained the magnificence while going through an assertive revamp. Inside, the French art de vivre meets the calm of an Asian temple. Aiming to be a phantasmagoric representation of 1930s Shanghai, the hotel, established around a paved inner courtyard, merges traditional architecture with a surprisingly modern decoration, that evokes a sense of wanderlust and inner peace.


Grande Suite Historique, Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris (©Guillaume de Laubier)

The most luxurious suite of the hotel, La Suite de Gagny, which is named after the historical owner of the hotel, stands out from the rest of the establishment with its look. Frescoes and original mouldings have been restored to preserve the 18th-century aspect and pink granite fireplaces and crystal chandeliers add to the Parisian atmosphere. The rest of the furniture, though are contemporary and suit the Asian spirit brought to life by Buddha-Bar Hotel concept creator Raymond Visan.

With two bedrooms, and of a total182m², the suite is noticeably large. One has to admit it is rare to find such a space in Paris. And, because it is tempting to stay inside when the cold seizes Paris during the winter, the suite has the perfect escape with a golden bath that sits proudly as the centrepiece of the 30 square metre bathroom.

Salon de Bain de la suite de Gagny, BuddhaBar Hotel Paris (©Guillaume de Laubier)

Salon de Bain de la suite de Gagny, Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris (©Guillaume de Laubier)

For those who are not lucky enough to stay in the best suite, Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris also boasts 55 other rooms which include 18 suites and three new Prestige suites, that are all available for your enjoyment. Come Valentine’s Day, the hotel will be offering a special package for guests starting from 525€ (US$ 555) for one night. The package includes a dinner for two at the Vraymonde restaurant, a small bottle of champagne, breakfast in bed, and late checkout till 3pm, amongst others.

For more information visit Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris website

icons of modern art paris exhibition

Louis Vuitton Foundation art exhibit extended: Shchukin curated “Icons of Modern Art” to run until March 2017

Hotels opening in 2017: Check into these new accommodations in Paris, Bora Bora and more for your upcoming holidays

The queue at Musee D'Orsay in Paris, France (Photo credit: AFP / Loic Venance)

Where to see Impressionist art in Paris, France: Musee d’Orsay is still a top museum despite its lack of space

Thirty years after the Musee d’Orsay opened its doors for the first time, it has become as much a Paris landmark as its big sister the Louvre just across the River Seine. But while the Musee d’Orsay is one of the top most-visited galleries in the world thanks to its unrivalled collection of Impressionist paintings, it is several times smaller than its rivals.

And with an average of 3.5 million visitors a year pour through its spectacular vaulted nave, it is also the “most dense museum in the world”, according to its director of collections Xavier Rey.

Massive donation

But the real problem isn’t so much the public as finding a place to show its staggering collection of late 19th-century and early-20th century masterpieces which runs from Courbet’s notorious “The Origin of the World” to Manet’s reclining nude “Olympia” and Van Gogh‘s searing self-portraits.

While the museum is packed with some of Degas, Cezanne, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec’s best work, only around 4,400 pieces can be shown at any one time. That leaves some 164,000 paintings and sculptures in its stores, which is set to grow even further with the massive donation by a Texan couple of their 350-million euro ($372-million) art collection to the French capital.

Businessman Spencer Hays and his wife Marlene last month signed off on the first instalment of 187 works for the Musee d’Orsay including pieces by Degas and Modigliani worth around 173 million euros. Their gift, the biggest from a foreign benefactor to France since World War II, also includes important work by Bonnard, Vuillard and Redon. Some 140 works by Bonnard and Vuillard were also given to the museum in January by the French collector Jean-Pierre Marcie-Riviere.

Faced with such pressure, the museum has bought a neighbouring 18th-century mansion on the banks of the Seine to house its library and research centre on the post-Impressionists.

Architectural gem

The idea of a fine art museum in a railway station was revolutionary when the museum opened in December 1986. Not that the Art Deco terminus was your average transport hub. Built like the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, it had the same architectural exuberance.

Having survived demolition plans in the 1970s, it was converted into a museum for mostly French art dating from the revolutions of 1848 to the outbreak of World War I as one of the late French president Francois Mitterrand’s “grands projets” to renew the French capital. A runaway success from the start, with its architectural elegance and head-turning collection equally praised, Rey said that “one can no longer imagine the museum anywhere but in this station”.

With another show featuring Van Gogh to open in March, it’s biggest hit remains the exhibition questioning if the Dutch artist was really mad — “Van Gogh-Artaud, the Suicide of Society” — which brought in more than 654,000 people in 2014.

Some of its biggest successes have even surprised its curators, with almost half a million people flocking to see an exhibition this year on Rousseau, who was derided as a “Sunday painter” by his contemporaries.

A 2013 show on the male nude in art, “Masculin, Masculin”, which Cogeval curated, was “to my great surprise a very big popular success with 430,000 visitors,” he said.

The surprises don’t end there. The so-called academic painters from the mid-19th century, who had long fallen out of fashion like William Bouguereau and Charles Gleyre, are now having an unexpected resurgence in popularity, said Rey.

Paris investment properties luxury homes

Invest in Paris, France: Luxury homes in the City of Love

With a stride in its step, the French capital is coming out of the doldrums. Incentives for property buyers mean that foreign investors can afford a café au lait and croissant from the terrace of their new downtown apartments.

One of the biggest metropolises in Western Europe, Paris has always held an immense amount of appeal on the international luxury real estate scene. While one of London’s main draws has always been its claim as a European capital of finance, Paris has retained its pull as one of the world’s leading tourist destinations, despite being hit by the 2007 financial crisis and the recent terrorist attacks. The City of Light continues its legacy of being a home to some of the world’s best restaurants, architectural landmarks, cultural institutions, fashion, shopping, food and wine and beacons luxury property buyers with its undeniable charm steeped in history and heritage.

“Paris is unique from many other capital cities in that it is not full of high rise buildings and has kept its 19th century cityscape largely intact”, says Roger Willoughby, Partner at Prestige Property Group.  “It is a friendly city with a comprehensive public transport system, but if you prefer to walk, there is nothing better than to walk from one Parisian district to another on a sunny afternoon”.

With the price of an average home seeing drops of 2.5% to 3% in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the strong performance of Sterling against the Euro and the Dollar at its 12-year high, the Paris residential property market is alive with opportunities for international buyers. In 2016, Paris, once again, is a buyer’s market with house prices recovering from the lull and overseas clients returning to Paris for residential property investment opportunities.

“Between 2002 and 2012 prices increased almost 200% and demand has continued to push up prices”, says Marie-Hélène Lundgreen, Director, Belles Demeures de France, International Department of Daniel Feau, exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. “French buyers are back and in July we sold 80 homes – around three a day. Low levels of interest rates are motivating buyers to complete purchases, but France’s economic recovery is also having a positive effect on the real estate market”. In a similar tone, Lundgreen’s projections forecast a 2.5% and a 5% return on investment in residential and commercial property markets respectively.

An additional recent incentive for international buyers that is making property investments in Paris all the more lucrative is this year’s EU court ruling that reduced the capital gains tax for non-residents from 34.5% to 19%. Overseas buyers no longer have to pay the additional “social charges” tax of up to 15.5% on the gain, making the tax conditions in Paris all the more favourable.  

Demonstrating an appreciation for antiquity and culture, properties in key areas of Paris have retained their value: the Golden Triangle in the 8th Arrondissement with its inimitable historic Haussmanian and Art Deco architecture, the 6th  and 7th Arrondissements, Saint Germain des Prés, Invalides and Champ de Mars with Eiffel Tower and 18th century mansions and buildings remained steadily popular with wealthy buyers. “Paris is and will always be a scarcity market, as they do not build anymore in the centre of Paris”, says Lundgreen. “Those with an appreciation for antiquity have the opportunity to purchase a home with striking architecture steeped in history”.

As for new opportunities for savvy investors, lucrative possibilities are emerging all around Paris this year. There are new trendy areas budding in the centre of Paris, with the 1st, 2nd, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 18th arrondissements arising as the prime spots of interest that can offer better value. Concludes Lundgeen, “These areas are a bit cheaper but still boast boutique cafes and shops popular with younger people”.

On the market

Ecole-Militaire, Christie’s International Real Estate

Located on the seventh floor of a historic 1914 building, with close-up views of the Eiffel Tower, the 130 square metre apartment is a true gem in Paris’ desirable 7th arrondissement, situated close to several government ministries and headquarters. This top floor apartment boasts sky-high, six metre ceilings and a tilted skylight, offering a truly unique view of the iconic Eiffel Tower. The spacious apartment also includes three bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a master suite, a mezzanine study, fitted dressing rooms and a spacious kitchen with dining facilities.

Price: EUR 3,690,000 (approx. USD 4.15 million) available on christiesrealestate.com

Paris investment properties luxury homes

Ecole-Militaire Interior

Place de L’etoile, 16TH Arrondissement, Paris, France

On the top floor of a beautiful building of late 19th century (Haussmann), this spacious apartment spans 2,529 sq. ft. with a beautiful view of the Arc de Triomphe and the avenue Foch. The entrance-way features a large reception room and study facing south with views of Place de l’Etoile.

This three-bedroom home includes a master suite with en-suite bathroom and includes a spacious dressing room and two further en-suite bedrooms. The kitchen opens up onto the dining room and guest toilets. A service room is connected to the flat. Parking can be available in the courtyard of the building.

Price On Application, available on www.greff-international.com / www.greff-immobilier.com /  www.greff-eurasie.com

Paris investment properties luxury homes

Place De L’etoile interior with a beautiful view of Arc de Triomphe

Text by Olha Romaniuk 

This article was first published in Palace Magazine