Hockney at the Orangerie

Well, I don’t seem to be having much luck with art exhibitions. I was unable to see the Vivian Maier photo expo at the Musée de Luxembourg last week, and on Monday I couldn’t get into the Musée de l’Orangerie to see the Hockney expo (long, long lines).

A Year in Normandie, David Hockney exhibition at the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens.

Revered as one of Great Britain’s most influential artists and a pioneer of the 1960s pop art movement, Hockney is an English painter, draftsman, printmaker, stage designer, and photographer.

He has owned residences and studios in Bridlington, London and Normandy, as well as two residences in California, where he has lived intermittently since 1964: one in the Hollywood Hills, and one in Malibu. In 2018, Hockney’s 1972 work Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold at Christie’s auction house in New York City for $90 million to an anonymous purchaser, becoming the most expensive artwork by a living artist sold at auction.

Hockney is a hedonist painter. His pictures are about enjoyment. His pursuit of life, liberty and happiness first expressed itself in unabashed portrayals of gay desire, at a time when homosexuality was a crime in Britain. But his paintings of his LA friends, such as the writer Christopher Isherwood, of swimming pools and swimmers, of men in showers, are not just records of his life; they are poetic rhapsodies of colour and light. It is through the white spume of a diver’s splash, against dark blue water under a light blue sky, that he expresses longing, love, the moment held. “California has a very clear light. You can see 100 miles sometimes. It’s very, very clear and that’s what I loved about it.” (source The Guardian, May 10, 2021, Jonathan Jones article)

His residence in Normandy from 2019 was intended for him to paint the local landscape, which he has done prolifically using both paint and iPad.

David Hockney takes over the Musée de l’Orangerie from 13 October 2021 to 14 February 2022 with an 80-metre long fresco that tells us about the tireless cycle of nature and the long-awaited arrival of spring in his adopted Normandy.
 

Below, Hockney as a young man and Hockney today:

Covid cocktail

I craved a cocktail, a real one, made with rum and citrus fruits and I don’t know what else. Of course, I’d prefer that a friendly bartender make me one, but these days, what with social distancing, lockdowns and such, this year and last year is all about DIY (Do It Yourself).

So I went to my local grocery store and randomly selected pretty-colored bottles off the shelves: dark rum infused with ginger root from Martinique, a bottle of sugar cane water, lychees and citrus fruits: limes, oranges and lemons.

Squeeze the fruits in a juicer then pour into a glass with the other ingredients and throw in one or two lychees. Tart and tropical. And loaded with Vitamin C!! Perfect for this gray, cold winter weather.

While sipping my cocktail and relaxing during this vacation time off work, I watched a new, satirical video on YouTube called The Room Next Door. Very funny. In the three videos below, Michael Spicer lampoons Bojo, clearly drunk, at last month’s CBI (Confederation of British Industry) conference; Prince Andrew while the interviewer grills him about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein; and Donald Trump during a Covid press conference.

a beautiful afternoon in the Luxembourg Gardens

For weeks we’ve had nothing but gloomy gray, drizzle and damp. Well, today was brilliantly sunny and cold. I jumped on the metro and headed to the 6th arrondissement to see the Vivian Maier photography exhibition at the Musée Luxembourg in the Luxembourg Gardens.

The 6th arrondissement is located in the heart of Paris’ Rive Gauche, or Left Bank. Considered by Parisians and visitors alike to be the quintessential Paris neighborhood, it’s home to the atmospheric Saint-Germain-des-Prés quartier, the Latin Quarter and the exquisite Luxembourg Gardens.

The gardens are famed for their calm atmosphere. Surrounding the fountain on the raised balustraded terraces are a series of statues of former French queens and saints. In the southwest corner, there’s an orchard and a puppet theatre.

It was cold, and the early afternoon light was beautiful. I love bright sunny cold days.

These photos were taken at 2 pm. I know it was 2 pm because I had a rendezvous with my ex-colleague and friend at 2:15 pm at that very spot.

We sat on two metal chairs in the sunshine and talked for over an hour. It was so nice to be able to sit outside in that lovely tranquil space.

We then headed over to the photo exhibition but there was a long queue of people waiting to get in. I’ll go back another day to see the exhibition before it closes mid-January. We decided to walk to the nearby Bon Marché department store instead. I’ve never understood why it’s called Bon Marché which means “cheap, inexpensive, low-cost”. This store is anything but. It’s the Paris equivalent of Bergdorf Goodman in NYC or Saks Fifth Avenue.

Here it is below, all gussied up for Christmas:

The Nest, a disappointing Jude Law film

So I bought the DVD the other day because (a) I like Jude Law, (b) the preview I watched on YouTube looked intriguing, and (c) I’m on vacation for 12 glorious days. Watching movies in my free time, especially when it’s cold and damp outside, is one of my favorite activities. You wouldn’t believe the weather here. For weeks its been cloudy, gray, damp and depressing.

A 2020 psychological thriller film written, directed, and produced by Sean Durkin. In my humble opinion I thought it was way overhyped. And I found it neither psychological nor thriller.

When it (abruptly) ended, I nearly shouted at my TV screen. What? That’s it? I sat through this for 1 hour and 47 minutes only to have a flabby, unsatisfactory ending? It leaves you hanging. The trailer sort of misrepresented the film: it promises A LOT, but doesn’t deliver. The story was incomplete, the characters not rounded out. For example: who was Allison (the wife played by Carrie Coon) before she met and married Rory (Jude Law)? They have no pasts; there’s no backstory. I think that’s important, don’t you?

Quick segue here: when I gave the draft of my memoir to a trusted reader, she said: “Who were your parents? Why did they leave England to emigrate to Canada in the 1950s? What motived them to cross the Atlantic Ocean on an immigrant ship, and what did they leave behind?” This is backstory which might give the story more depth and help to explain why I ended up in Europe, the very place they left all those decades ago.

La boucle est bouclée,” a French person might say, which means – the circle is complete.

Getting back to the movie, there’s a weird segment concerning Allison’s dead horse which I didn’t understand at all. And why is Rory estranged from his mother? Where does his delusion of grandeur come from? We know nothing about his past other than he’s an equity trader who moved to New York then back to London.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion. See the film for yourself. Here’s the trailer (which is great) –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svq5OzzT7s4

fabulous London, Christmas 2018

No, I’m not in London, I’m in my Parisian flat with a banging headache and an aching left arm. Yup, I got my booster shot this morning. Tonight I was supposed to meet my friend at a new bistro in town, but I cancelled. I want to be in tip-top condition when I go out. Not to worry, we’ll go in January.

Three years ago, I was about to head to London to spend Christmas with two childhood friends. Feeling nostalgic, I brought up this post from the archives. Click on December 2018 under Archives for more info on this London trip. It was great.

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I stayed in a fab hotel in the Marylebone district. Here’s Ingrid who runs the place. She’s originally from Vilnius, Lithuania.

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Every morning at the communal table, she’d serve me hot coffee and toasted crumpets for my breakfast.

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I love old townhouses, don’t you? It gets dark at 4 pm during the winter months. Near the hotel is a fabulous Turkish restaurant called Ishtar. I highly recommend it.

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I wandered over to two fab shopping streets near the hotel, Chiltern Street first and then Marylebone High Street. It’s pretty posh.

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Strolling city streets on cold, clear nights has always been a great pleasure of mine. Below is the link to the hotel.

Tip: As long as you don’t take a room higher than the second floor, I recommend this hotel (as in most old houses, there’s no lift (elevator.)) The second floor is actually the third floor. 

http://22yorkstreet.co.uk/

office Christmas party

The highlight of my evening was walking from Tuileries metro station along the rue de Rivoli (under the covered arcades) and up the rue de Castiglione to Place Vendôme where the party was. It was a cold, clear night and the Christmas lights and shop windows were dazzling.

As usual, I was the first to arrive. It should be known that Parisians are notoriously late. I think it’s called “fashionably late”. As for me, the invitation said “7 pm” so I was there at 7 pm. What’s more, we had all been given the wrong address. “It’s beside the Ritz Hotel at number 19 Place Vendôme,” we were told. I showed up, then, at this elegant building located in a lovely courtyard.

When I told the two people at the door that I had arrived for the “soirée”, they didn’t know what I was talking about. When I gave them the name of the company I work for, they didn’t recognize it. In the end, it was sorted out and I was directed towards number 7. I warned them that they were about to receive over a hundred people, all showing up at the wrong address. Oh well, not to worry. Nothing that a glass of champagne can’t fix. I arrived at the venue, ditched my coat and headed straight for the bar.

“Une coupe de champagne, Madame ?”

“Mais oui !”

Now that’s what I call service. People started drifting in at around 7:45 pm. Due to Covid, it wasn’t a sit-down dinner but rather trays of “nibbles” served to us by waitstaff. Finger food, I guess you’d call it. Washed down with champagne à gogo. Here’s a colleague with a million dollar smile. I love her velvet dress.

Here’s me in my sparkly top that I bought specially for the occasion: Monoprix, 39 euros.

We chatted, ate and drank and then listened to the CEO’s Christmas speech. I left at around 11 pm. Taxis were available for us, but I jumped on the metro. When I got to the office this morning, the floor I work on was completely empty. I later learned they had all danced until 2:30 a.m. and then took cabs to a nightclub at Place Pigalle and continued to dance until 4 a.m.

It was a quiet day at the office.

Next blog post: more photos of the Christmas lights and a short video of the Place Vendôme all lit up.

the tragedy of Macbeth, new Coen film

As a lover of both Shakespeare and the Coen brothers’ films, I was thrilled to learn of this startling new movie written and directed by Joel Coen. The visuals are breath-taking. Can’t wait to see this!

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

Shakespeare. Macbeth. Act 4, Scene 1.

 

A brief synopsis: 

Three witches tell the Scottish general Macbeth that he will be King of Scotland. Encouraged by his wife, Macbeth kills the king, becomes the new king, and kills more people out of paranoia. Civil war erupts to overthrow Macbeth, resulting in more death.