Tag Archives: Paris

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.

guillaume-de-laubier-grande-suite-historique-buddha-bar-hotel-paris

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

Cezanne exhibition in Paris, France: See the artist's paintings on display at Musee d'Orsay

Cezanne exhibition in Paris, France: See the artist’s paintings on display at Musee d’Orsay

An exhibition, titled ‘Cézanne Portraits’ will feature over 50 of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne’s portraits at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Beginning on June 14 till September 24, the exhibition will move onto London‘s National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C

Regarded as one of the most prominent painters of the 19th century, Cézanne painted almost 200 portraits in his lifetime, with 36 self-portraits and 29 of his wife. Visitors will have a rare opportunity to see artworks from museums and private collections from Brazil, Denmark, France, Japan, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

‘Cézanne Portraits’ will be look back at the artist’s career from a chronological perspective, observing the shifts of his painting style and methods throughout the years, as well as his focus on complementary pairs and multiple versions of a subject.

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“Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair,” 1888-90, by Paul Cézanne © Wilson L. Mead Fund, 1948.54, The Art Institute of Chicago. “Cézanne Portraits” at NPG London

The works to be displayed will include paintings of Cézanne’s uncle Dominique from the 1860s, to portraits of Vallier, his assistant in Aix-en-Provence – one of his final works.

“Up until now, Cezanne’s portraiture has received surprisingly little attention, so we are thrilled to be able to bring together so many of his portraits for the first time to reveal arguably the most personal, and therefore most human, aspect of Cézanne’s art,” said Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery in London.

“Cézanne Portraits” is a collaboration between the three museums and will show at all three venues. It will be on display at the Musée d’Orsay from June 14 to September 24, 2017; the National Portrait Gallery in London from October 26, 2017 to February 11, 2018; and the National Gallery of Art from March 25 to July 1, 2018.

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Paris Takeover

Most Expensive: Eiffel Tower Stairs Set Record

Most Expensive: Eiffel Tower Stairs Set Record

A section of stairs from the Eiffel Tower in Paris sold for more than half a million euros, auctioneers said Wednesday – more than 10 times the pre-sale estimate. Yes, the estimate on this was 40,000 euros.

The 14 wrought-iron steps from a winding staircase between the second and third floors of the Paris landmark went for 523,800 euros ($556,000) after furious bidding at the sale in the French capital.

Auction house Artcurial said the dramatic sale on Tuesday had “unleashed the passions” of several international buyers, with bids rising rapidly from 20,000 euros, leaving the aforementioned 40,000 euro estimate far behind.

The prize eventually fell to a telephone bid from an Asian buyer.

Auctioneer Francois Tajan said “the battle over the phone and in the auction room for the stairs showed the profound attachment there is for a monument that is so emblematic of French culture.”

The stairs date from 1889 when the legendary French engineer Gustave Eiffel built the 324-meter (1,063-foot) edifice as the centerpiece of the Paris Universal Exhibition.

It soon became the most iconic feature on the Paris skyline, and is France’s most visited monument despite suffering calls for its demolition in the years after the exhibition.

It is still the country’s third tallest structure, and was the highest building in the world for 41 years until the construction of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930.

The stairs were removed from the tower in 1983 to make way for a lift and cut into 24 sections, ranging from two to nine meters high.

Several were bought by museums while others ended up in the gardens of the Yoshii Foundation at Yamanashi in Japan, beside the Statue of Liberty in New York and at Walt Disney World in Florida, next to its copy of the Eiffel Tower.

Artcurial sold a larger 3.5-meter section of 19 steps for 220,000 euros in 2013.

Tajan said he was particularly “moved by the sale… having watched the first sale of the staircases in 1983 which was presided over by my father Jacques Tajan.”

Although the Eiffel Tower stairs fetched “an exceptional price”, the highest from the sale of Art Deco artifacts was four monumental sculptures by Georges Saupique which went for 1.24 million euros.

Saupique is best known for his bust of Marianne, the woman who symbolizes the French republic.

Jeff Koons Offers Sculpture Paris Terror Attack Victims

Jeff Koons Sculpture for Paris Terror Attack Victims

American artist Jeff Koons announced he would give Paris a “Bouquet of Tulips” sculpture as an offering of remembrance for the victims of the November 2015 jihadist attacks, city hall said.

The monumental work, which has yet to be built, will be 10 meters (34 feet) high, and be made of bronze, stainless steel and aluminum.

The sculpture will represent a huge hand holding out a multicolored bouquet of tulips, the contemporary artist said at the US embassy in Paris, a statement said.

Once it is completed in 2017, it will be set up in front of the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art and the Palais de Tokyo building.

The sculpture will cost some three million euros ($3.2 million) to make. Financing will come from private donors in the United States and France.

Koons said the sculpture was designed as an offering in memory of the victims and as a symbol of optimism, in an effort to help Paris overcome the tragedy that struck the French capital on November 13 last year.

In a string of coordinated attacks by Islamic State group jihadists that shocked the world, 130 people were killed that day.

Koons, who is known for toying with objects from popular culture, said the hand holding the tulips in his massive sculpture is intended to mimic the State of Liberty grasping its torch.

Paris is home to a several smaller replicas of the Statue of Liberty, including one on the Seine River, within sight of the Eiffel Tower.

“The fact that this great artist has decided to offer to the city of Paris… a monumental artwork is a symbol of generosity and sharing, and shows our capital’s ties with the United States are unbreakable,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said.

Original Tintin Drawing Sets New Auction Record

Original Tintin Drawing Sets New Auction Record

An original drawing from the popular Tintin adventure “Explorers on the Moon” sold for a record 1.55 million euros at a Paris auction on Saturday, auction house Artcurial announced.

The 50 cm X 35 cm drawing in Chinese ink by the Belgian cartoonist known as Herge shows the boy reporter, his dog Snowy and crusty sailor Captain Haddock wearing spacesuits and walking on the moon while looking at Earth.

It had been expected to sell for between 700,000 and 900,000 euros ($741,00 and $952,000).

“It’s simply fantastic! It’s an exceptional price for an exceptional piece,” said Artcurial’s comics expert Eric Leroy.

He described the “Explorers on the Moon” as “a key moment in the history of comic book art… it has become legendary for many lovers and collectors of comic strips.

“It is one of the most important from Herge’s postwar period, on the same level as ‘Tintin in Tibet’ and ‘The Castafiore Emerald’,” he added.

World Record

The 1954 book is viewed as one of Herge’s masterpieces. Saturday’s sale was a record for a single cartoon drawing. In 2012, the 1932 cover illustration of “Tintin in America” fetched 1.3 million euros.

Herge already holds the world record for the sale of a comic strip.

A double-page ink drawing that served as the inside cover for all the Tintin adventures published between 1937 and 1958, sold for 2.65 million euros ($3.58 million at that time) to an American fan two years ago.

Original Tintin comic book drawings have been fetching millions at auctions over the last few years.

In February 2015, the original cover design for “The Shooting Star” almost matched the record when it was sold for 2.5 million euros.

Back in May, the original artwork for the last two pages of the “King Ottokar’s Sceptre” book sold for $1.2 million while in October of last year a double page slate from the same Tintin book fetched more than 1.5 million euros.

That same month, an Asian investor paid $1.2 million for a drawing from “The Blue Lotus” book, published in 1936, of Tintin and Snowy in Shanghai.

Alongside the moon drawings, Artcurial also sold 20 ink sketches Herge created for a series of New Year’s greeting cards known as his “snow cards”.

The drawings, including Tintin and Snowy skiing, or hapless detectives the Thompson twins ice-skating, brought in 1.2 million euros.

Unfinished Thermozero

Prices for cartoon art have multiplied tenfold in the last decade, according to gallery owner Daniel Maghen, who also works with comic art.

Rival auction house Christie’s is putting drawings from another rare Herge strip up for sale later in the day in Paris.

It said the page from the unfinished story “Tintin and the Thermozero” – estimated at 250,000 euros – was the first ever to come to market.

Why the artist never finished the tale of espionage and a terrifying secret weapon set against the backdrop of the Cold War, is one of the great mysteries for Tintin-ologists.

The 1954 “Explorers on the Moon” completes the lunar adventure started in “Destination Moon” (1953) and features several hilarious episodes including Haddock getting drunk on whisky and floating off into space to briefly become a satellite of the asteroid Adonis.

It turns on Tintin foiling a plot to hijack the rocket by the evil stowaway spy Colonel Jorgen, who is backed by a mysterious foreign power.

The sales come as Tintinmania again grips the French capital, with Herge currently the subject of a huge retrospective exhibition at the Grand Palais.

Herge sold some 230 million Tintin albums by the time of his death in 1983.

Pierre Berge Library Auction By Sotheby’s: Part Two

As we announced a few months agoPierre Berge, the co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion empire has auctioned off the second part of his library in Paris. The private collection, which was made up of 376 works, is estimated to be the most valuable and has raised five million euros. Under the care of auction house Sotheby’s, rare first editions of classics of 19th century European literature including signed books by French greats such as Balzac, Hugo, Stendhal and Baudelaire.

Two pieces by Gustave Flaubert went under the hammer. The first, was a handwritten manuscript that sees the whole passages of the novelist’s travelogue “Over the Fields and over the Shores”, scratched out. The travelogue that earned 537,880 euros, was an account of his tour of France’s Loire and Brittany regions in 1886. The second was an original edition of Flaubert’s masterpiece “Madame Bovary” that sold for nearly twice its estimate at 190,369 euros.

However, the top earner from the two-day sale was for the manuscript of Stephane Mallarme’s “Noces d’Heriodiade”. The manuscript about the marriage of the biblical character Salome’s mother, sold for 587,720 euros. The sale adds to the 11.7 million euros that had been raised by the French philanthropist last year from first part of his collection. With four more sales of the library planned for next year, the collection is expected to be worth over 30 million euros. The proceeds of the auctions will be given to a foundation set up by Berge with Saint Laurent.

1964-alpine-m64-berlinette

Artcurial Sells Iconic James Bond Aston Martin

A slew of classic and vintage collectible cars are set to go under the hammer in Paris, October 30 as Artcurial Motorcars celebrates a decade of its “Automobiles sur les Champs” auction – including the 1964 Aston Martin DB5. The 80 cars that will be up for grabs vary in age, origins and models, with several having appeared on both the big and small screens as well as in comic books.

1964 Aston Martin DB5

1964 Aston Martin DB5

Under the spotlight is a 1964 Aston Martin DB5  – which is a lovely car but not strictly speaking a classic car – that was driven by James Bond in Goldfinger. With an estimated value of €550,000 to €650,000, the car is a rare left-hand drive model that first started out as a “show model” from the 1964 Paris Motor Show. Joining this appointed star of the show are other notable vehicles including sports cars such as a 1964 Alpine M64 berlinette, a Bugatti Type 40 spéciale from 1927 and a Porsche Carrera 3.0L Group V from 1976. Guess which one of these is a proper classic…

1927 Bugatti Type 40 Spéciale

1927 Bugatti Type 40 Spéciale

Those with a love for Italian automobiles will be in for a treat with the 1967 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2, a 1995 Lamborghini Diablo VT and even a 1968 Alfa Romeo GTA 1300 Junior in the auction catalog. For those with a more modest budget, the auction will also feature more affordable options such as two Alfa Romeo Polizia, former Italian police cars from 1969 and 1981. Fans of the Michel Vaillant comic books will be more interested in the 1999 Hommell Vaillante “Grand défi” paying tribute to the series, estimated at €40,000 to €60,000. Finally, buyers with even more modest budgets can snap up a 1968 Fiat 500 L, estimated at €8,000 to €12,000. Yes, vintage vehicles aren’t all hugely expensive propositions

Before going under the hammer, the cars will be on display at the Artcurial private garage in Paris from October 29 to 30.

US Couple Donate Art Collection to Musee d'Orsay

US Couple Donate Art Collection to Musee d’Orsay

The Musee d’Orsay has recently been gifted 187 works of art that are estimated to be worth $188 million, which certainly makes it one of the most generous gifts in the world of art and museums. Apparently, this gift will keep on giving because it is only the first instalment of a donation from businessman Spencer Hays and his wife Marlene. Why? Well that is not entirely clear at the moment. What we do know is that the US couple first started their love affair for art in 1971 when they first visited the French capital, which is why they selected a French institution such as the Musee d’Orsay.

The donation, that includes works by Edgar Degas and Amedeo Modigliani, is just a fraction of the 600 works that the couple have collected. Spanning from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, their total collection is said to be valued at almost 350 million euros. When completed, this will mark the largest foreign foreign collection donated to France in 60 years.

“When Marlene and I grew up in a little town in Gainesville, Texas, even visiting France was far beyond our great expectations. But in 1971 we made our first trip to Paris, and our love affair with this wonderful country began,” Hays told a crowd which included President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace.

“The people who know you know your collection gets bigger around July 14 and December 7, because those are your birthdays. And this year, once again, Marlene, you gave Spencer a Matisse, and you, Spencer, gave Marlene a Modigliani… It wasn’t easy to live up to that!” Hollande said. The President added that the couple had given France not only their collection but also “access to culture for everyone”.

“Your act, your donation, honors the French Republic,” he said during a ceremony in which the couple received the distinction of commander of the Legion d’Honneur, one of the country’s highest honors.

Scarlett Johansson Opens Parisian Popcorn Shop

For those who care to know such things, the latest celebrity business venture comes from Scarlett Johansson, who is opening a gourmet popcorn shop at the Marais district of Paris. If you’re lucky, you might even get the world’s highest paid actress to serve you.

The Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop is a labor of love of Johansson and her French husband, advertising executive Romain Dauriac. Flavors will range from savoury to sweet, including truffle, parmesan, real Vermont cheddar, and sage (Johansson’s personal favorite). Chef Will Horowitz of Ducks Eatery will also concoct special flavors, such as sea salt & olive oil, ‘Real Vermont Maple’, strawberries & cream, and chocolate-covered strawberries.

If the venture proves a hit at the world’s gastronomic capital, the couple is planning to expand to other areas. The shop will be managed by Dauriac’s sister.

Johansson’s spokesman said the Paris shop would close after its “soft opening” on Saturday so “they can fine tune everything with what they learn from customers before the grand opening”, which is likely to be before the end of the year.

 

Plateau Urbain Converts Derelict Buildings

Plateau Urbain Converts Derelict Parisian Buildings

As part of its new project, the organization called Plateau Urbain is turning once derelict buildings into lively work spaces. These condemned areas now serve as a place where start-ups and artistic associations can find success without worrying about the strain of financial stress.

One such individual who is benefitting from the project is 26-year-old Margot. Her art studio was once a gynaecology ward in a hospital in the south of Paris. At a reasonable (really) rate of $19 per square meter per month for the studio, she now shares the space with illustrators, graphic designers and artists where occupants pay just enough to cover the costs. “This allows me to have a stable place” to work, she says. Young artists like Margot aren’t the only ones to have benefited from the Saint Vincent de Paul hospital’s new use, started by the association Plateau Urbain (Urban Platform).

Some 1,000 migrant workers, vulnerable youths and people who were once homeless have found shelter there, while young entrepreneurs and NGO members have turned it into their work space. “We also see people from the neighbourhood, locals who come to have their midday coffee, tourists and hipsters who come … by bike because they think it’s cool here,” says Simon Laisney, who heads Plateau Urbain. “I’d say it’s a big experiment in social integration.”

The experiment, inspired by the vibrant Berlin art scene, puts the owners of abandoned buildings in touch with possible tenants. Laisney first dreamt up the idea when he was still a real estate analyst with a major corporation. “I found out there were 2.9 million square metres (31 million square feet) of empty space in what we call second-hand buildings — meaning they have already been rented once. Of the 2.9 million square metres, there were 800,000 square metres that haven’t been rented for at least five years,” Laisney explained.

“The idea was to put these spaces to use again,” said Laisney, who is not yet 30. The group’s first project in 2013 saw an artist set up her studio in a renovated ground-floor space in the heart of Paris’ hip Marais district, for the hard-to-believe price of just 150 euros a month. A dozen other similar projects have since sprung up, with Plateau Urbain using grants and awards to finance its work.

The way it works is that tenants living and working in Plateau Urbain-managed spaces do not pay rent as such — they just pay enough to cover expenses. And even though the association, run by just two permanent staff members along with a group of unpaid volunteers, is still very small, the set-up has won over Laurent Vuidel, head of a housing association called Lerichemont.

Vuidel says it has been a cost effective alternative for vacant properties. In April, he handed a group of artists the keys to a 530-square-metre building in the south of the French capital. “We have managed to stop paying the costs of securing the building, and the current occupants contribute to the monthly charges — heating, electricity, etc,” Vuidel said. Had the building been left to disuse, it would either have grown derelict or seen squatters move in.

Otherwise, the owners would have had to pay security guards to keep watch — and that would have been expensive. Vuidel said it would have cost “some 10,000 to 15,000 euros a month to have a permanent on-site presence.” Having previously rented out rooms in buildings destined for demolition to students, Lerichemont took the plunge. And now, this former university building has become a hub for painters, designers, sculptors, potters and landscape artists. “For us, it’s a boost for the arts,” beams Nicolas Bouchet, who runs the Labolic collective that manages the space.

While Vuidel believes in the project, he remains a little concerned about the future. “We have to wait and see what happens when we decide to take the building back — whether we’ll actually be able to get it back,” he says. But for Plateau Urbain the goal is what Laisney calls “urban pragmatism” — a temporary solution for vacant buildings. He’d like to see it become systematic that “when an elected official, or a property owner has a vacant building, he says to himself, ‘I’m going to let it be used for temporary occupation’.”

4 Street Art Stars Cities that Love Them

4 Street Art Stars and Cities that Love Them

Street art is by its nature transient, with city authorities in a race to paint over work that seemingly pops up spontaneously – these four artists and three cities defy this stereotype. We haven’t included Paris on this list but it is actually the first to open a dedicated permanent space for the voice of the street, so to speak. The AFP Relaxnews used the occasion of that opening to highlight three artists and the cities that have – sometimes – hosted them warmly. We added Blek le Rat to the list because, well, ignoring Blek is just criminal.

Banksy

In the age of doxxing and wikileaks, the artist (or collective) known as Banksy is an anomaly. He (for want of a better pronoun) is certainly the world’s most famous anonymous street artist, whose subversive and satirical humor has been reaching ever larger audiences since he surfaced in the 1990s.

Hailing from the underground activist culture of the southwestern city of Bristol (also the birthplace of trip hop), his unmistakable stenciled output generally features an anti-establishment bent.

In artistic terms, be it on the street or in the gallery, he is emphatically Big League, rubbing shoulders with Damien Hirst for the “Keep it Spotless” collaboration, which fetched $1.8 million at Sotheby’s in New York in 2008.

As we’ve reported here many times, Banksy’s identity is unknown. The last stab at unmasking the artist produced the idea that he may be Robert “3D” Del Naja of trip hop band Massive Attack.

4 Street Art Stars and Cities that Love Them

By Eric Lin from San Francisco, USA – blek le rat sleeping, CC BY-SA 2.0. Wikimedia Commons

Blek le Rat

Born Xavier Prou in Paris, 1951, Blek is the elder statesman of global street art and the clear influence behind none other than Banksy. Blek was himself influenced by the street art of New York in the 1970s and adapted the style for Paris, acknowledging the vast difference between the architectures of the two cities. Blek’s true identity was only exposed in 1991, when he was arrested by police in Paris. Nevertheless, Blek says he prefers to street to the gallery, with his first solo exhibition just 10 years ago, in London.

In keeping with this, Blek is not well represented in museums and galleries but you can see his work at the Quin hotel in New York City, which includes his work in its permanent collection.

JR

While Blek may have inspired Banksy, JR is his French successor and some would say a more original artist than Banksy. He started out on the streets of Paris before making waves in a clutch of venues, from Rio’s favela slums (featured image: 28 Millimetres: Women are Heroes, Action in Kibera Slum – Train Passage 6 – Kenya, 2009, JR) to Shanghai and New York. Certainly, JR is a wildly ambitious artist whom our friends at Art Republik call “a master of manipulating images in context.” As far as contextual art goes, street art is tough to beat.

One of JR’s most emblematic projects involved collecting some 4,000 portraits via his mobile photo booth truck and putting the resulting “participatory” mass collage on display at the newly restored Pantheon temple in the French capital.

Earlier this year he wrapped the glass Louvre Pyramid in photographic prints, creating a trompe l’oeil effect appearing to make the structure blend into the actual palace facade.

A ceramic mosaic of 1970s US cartoon character Hong Kong Phooey created by Invader. © AFP PHOTO / FILES / Philippe Lopez

A ceramic mosaic of 1970s US cartoon character Hong Kong Phooey created by Invader. © AFP PHOTO / FILES / Philippe Lopez

Invader

Monikers are par for the course in street art and this one is particularly good. The contemporary French artist Invader gets his nom de guerre from “Space Invader” because he produces pixelated works reminiscent of early videogame figures.

Invader is a very active artist, who travels far and wide like the others on this list. With some 3,000 “invasions” on his CV to date, Invader has on occasion been taken in for questioning by inquisitive US police. Invader himself calls his artistic excursions “invasions.”

Last year his replica mosaic of 1970s American cartoon character Hong Kong Phooey sold at auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, fetching HK$2 million ($258,000). The popular piece of street art had been destroyed by the Hong Kong authorities, infuriating residents, and was later re-made for sale.

New York

New York City is the obvious cradle of the street art movement, graffiti artists having used subway tunnels and handy walls as canvases since the late 1960s.

The 1990s saw a move towards the mainstream with the Queens district hosting the 5 Pointz mural space on Long Island.

For two decades, some 1,500 artists had the run of 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet) of space, creating an open-air museum and tourist magnet – until the site owner in 2013 had the area demolished for construction of a condominium complex.

Berlin

Berlin’s East Side Gallery – a 1.3 kilometre (one mile) surviving section of the Berlin Wall – merits mention with its gallery of 1990 (the year after the fall of the Berlin Wall) paintings by more than 100 artists from across the globe.

With the site receiving an annual three million visitors, renovation was required in 2009.

One of the best-known frescoes depicts the “fraternal kiss” between former Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecker, painted by Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel.

London

London’s edgy-but-trendy eastern district of Shoreditch is a true hive of street art in the British capital, “hosting” a raft of Banksy creations that see visitors beat a steady path to the area.

Somewhat less known is Leake Street Tunnel, an “authorised graffiti area” behind Waterloo railway station which lures an alternative crowd. Most output gets covered over on a regular basis.

Banksy, himself involved in turning “a dark forgotten filth pit” into “an oasis of beautiful art”, has also fallen victim to this artistic licence at what was for a while dubbed “Banksy Tunnel”.