big Bauhaus exhibition

THE SPIRIT OF BAUHAUS, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

from 19 October 2016 to 26 February 2017

You might think of Bauhaus as a style, or maybe a school of thought. But Bauhaus was an actual school: an institute of design that gave some of history’s most important designers a grounding in aesthetics that continues to influence the way our world looks and works. Called the Staatliches Bauhaus, the school existed in Germany from 1919 to 1933. It was based first in Weimar until 1925, then Dessau through 1932, and then Berlin in its final months. Suspected of publishing anti-Nazi propaganda and documents linking Bauhaus to the Communist party, the school was closed indefinitely in 1933 when the Nazis came to power.

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While its instruction was deeply devoted to functionality, it was among the first to set out and prove that functional need not be boring. Founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany by the prominent architect Walter Gropius, Bauhaus ended up as the most influential modernist art school of the 20th century. It was defined as a utopian craft guild combining industrial design, architecture, sculpture and painting into a single creative expression.

Long after it closed, Bauhaus had a major impact both in Europe and the United States. It was shaped by the 19th and early 20th centuries trends such as the Arts and Crafts movement, which had sought to level the distinction between fine and applied arts, and to reunite creativity and manufacturing. The school is also renowned for its faculty, which included artists Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Johannes Itten, architects Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and designer Marcel Breuer.

The Bauhaus school produced some of the most significant design pieces that have stood the test of time, influencing generations of designers. Here are a few of the most iconic and timeless of Bauhaus design.

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Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich – The Barcelona Chair (1929)

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Wilhelm Wagenfeld – The Bauhaus Lamp (1924)

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Marcel Breuer – The Cesca Chair (1927)

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Marianne Brandt – The Tea Infuser (1924)

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Josef Albers – Nesting Tables

Opening on Wednesday October 19th, a large exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs will pay homage to this artistic movement by displaying original Bauhaus pieces and celebrating the wide-ranging fruits of the influential art and architecture school. No fewer than 900 works and objects from the creative phenomenon will be displayed…

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

107, rue de Rivoli (beside the Louvre)

closed Mondays

out and about…and Lidia Yuknavitch

On my way to dinner on the other side of the city yesterday, I stopped off at one of my favorite haunts, W.H. Smith bookstore on the rue de Rivoli, to see the new books and magazines. It’s nice to see that people still read. Traditional paper books, I mean, and magazines of which there were many. I read that people today read books from their telephones. Does anyone other than me find this shocking? How can book-reading from a mobile phone offer the same kind of concentrated reading … or pleasure … as from a paper book, or even a larger-screen Kindle?? One of my favorite pleasures in life is hanging out in bookstores. Not to mention the smell and feel of a brand new book and turning its pages. For those mobile phone book-readers, I guess you could say – at least they’re reading, no matter what the device.

“The future of digital reading is on the phone,” says a Simon & Schuster publisher. “It’s not the e-reader that will be driving future book sales, but the phone.”

Anyway, more on W.H. Smith later, plus my dinner in a delightful Sicilian restaurant with my Swedish friend, Andreas. Right now I want to share with you this wholly inspiring TED TALK by author, Lidia Yuknavitch

From Wikipedia – Lidia Yuknavitch (born June 18, 1963) is an American writer, teacher and editor based in Oregon. She is the author of the memoir The Chronology of Water, and the novels The Small Backs of Children and Dora: A Headcase.

Yuknavitch grew up in a home where her father verbally, physically, and sexually abused her and her sister, while her alcoholic mother did not intervene. As a teen, she was noticed by a “caring and methodical coach” who helped her move towards her dream of becoming a competitive swimmer…

“I’m a card-carrying misfit,” Yuknavitch says.

I was very moved by this talk, and found this woman to be very courageous.

pizza night, a bottle of rosé, and my godson

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Have I already told you how much I love Friday nights? On my way home from work I picked up a bottle of chilled rosé (5 euros, 60). Then to Picard (gourmet frozen foods) to buy an ultra-thin crust gorgonzola-mushroom pizza. It’s chill time in front of my favorite cult series, Homeland. Just got the Season 5 DVDs.

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Oh, here’s my 4 year-old godson who has nothing to do with Friday night pizza. I found these photos on my memory card. They were taken two weekends ago when I left London for Lille on the Eurostar train. That’s my expensive Shu Uemura lipstick he has on his face. After finding my make-up bag, he helped himself to its contents.

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This little boy is the most self-possessed, authoritarian 4-year old I’ve ever known. Yes, authoritarian! (he’s a Taurus). Like a miniature Napoleon, he marches around the house telling one and all what to do. The funny thing is, is that we all obey.

“Tata Juliet,” he says to me in a commanding tone, “I want to take a bath. You can come, but don’t look.” 

“OK”, I say, obediently (me? obedient?) and follow him down the hallway into the bathroom. I run the Emperor’s bath, being careful to mix the water so that it’s just right – not too hot, not too cold. He undresses. “Don’t look!” he squeals. But the side of the tub is too high and he needs to be lifted up and placed (delicately) into the water. I reassure him that I’m not looking. What, exactly, I’m not supposed to be looking at…oh, a teeny-tiny penis…since when were 4 year-olds so prudish?

Once in the bathwater, his private parts hidden under a blanket of bubbles, I ask if he wants me to rinse and lather his hair. “No!”, he hollers, “I can do it myself.” “OK,” I say, now sitting on a small stool near the door. I watch as he wets a portion of his head, lathers another portion, then sprays the entire bathroom (including me) with the hand-held showerhead. I’m wetter than he is.

“I want out now,” he announces. His head is sudsy. Getting him out of the tub requires a deft balancing act between my bending down, clasping his slippery little body, then straightening up (yikes, my painful lower back). He clings to me, frog-like, all the while squealing “Don’t look!”

“I’m not looking!” I squawk back.

I wrap his body in a large towel and his head in a small one. I place his slippers on the rug. He holds my hand while maneuvering his little feet into them. Le Petit Prince. We emerge from the bathroom, him looking serene and happy, me looking like I’ve been dragged through a car wash (without the car).

“Oh, did you have a bath too?” his father says to me.

bye-bye, London, see you soon

I’ve been back in Paris a week now. It’s hard to return to the confines of the office after being free, outdoors, and walking vigorously for ten days. Already I miss the big trees and parks of London. But it’s my salary (plus the generous vacation leave here) that allows me to take my trips, so I’m not complaining.

Speaking of walking, I mentioned in my April New York post that while there I purchased two pairs of super-comfortable REEBOKs. Well, guess what? I bought an even more comfortable pair in London! They’re the latest model and they’re called REEBOK CLOUDRIDE DMX. I paid only £59. I recommend them (tried and tested!) A good walking shoe is important, especially when you walk on pavement.

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Here are some final, random shots of London…until the next time. Thanks for reading.

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It’s a funny thing. When you’re in London you feel like you’re in a separate country, a thriving, cosmopolitan world of its own. Sometimes I forget that the rest of England is attached. So it was with a jolt, while waiting for the Eurostar to take me back to Paris at St. Pancras station, that I looked up at the train departure boards and saw the name of my mother’s native city staring me in the face. Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. This is where my people are from, on my mother’s side. My father was from further north, from Northumberland County bordering Scotland to the north and the North Sea to the east.

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