“The studio is my garden: here I am alone and happy.” Constantin Brâncuși
The Romanian sculptor is called the patriarch of modern sculpture. At his death Brâncuși left 1200 photographs and 215 sculptures. He bequeathed part of his collection to the French state, after it was refused by the Romanian Communist government, on condition that his workshop be rebuilt as it was on the day he died. This reconstruction of his studio, adjacent to the Pompidou Centre, is open to the public.
Je veux aller me perdre dans les musées parisiens. Ne plus trouver la sortie. Et m'endormir sur un de ces quelques bancs, qu'ils placent devant les toiles gigantesques.
Et recommencer là où je m'étais arrêtée.
Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012)
was an American artist working in a variety of mediums, such as painting,
sculpture, and printmaking. She was an important representative of the
Her only formal training consisted of three weeks at the
Chicago Academy of Fine Art. Despite this, her work was highly appreciated and
shown at galleries around the world. Today, her art can be seen in places such
as Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris or the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The piece illustrated above is a 1942 self-portrait entitled Birthday.
(b. 1926) is a Greek
university professor, specializing in history and archeology. She is a UNICEF
Goodwill Ambassador for her native country.
1976, she became the Principal of the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne,
and in doing so became the first woman in the world to be the Principal of a
world-renowned University. She was also Rector of the Academy of Paris,
Chancellor of the Universities of Paris, and President of the Centre Georges
I just saw the Walker Evans exhibition in Paris, at Centre Georges Pompidou. Although the show featured too many images of static landscapes, storefronts and objects, there were enough of his portraits of depression era sharecroppers and their homes to provide some inspiration and insight into how to make a lasting impression with a camera. So I made this picture in post (digitally) with Evans in mind, but when I actually made the picture, out on the street late one afternoon on Istiklal Street, I thought of only how best to incorporate enough elements into each picture of this boy to make a stark statement that would somehow, at least partially, demonstrate his singularity and solitude. I knew that he would be gone in an instant, and whenever the impulse struck him to move I would be unprepared for it no matter how well I tried to anticipate it.
I bought him a dondurma and was disappointed to observe the dondurma spectacle that I had hoped would entertain this small boy didn’t materialize. Despite my status as a visitor from America (status in the sense that I’m a paying customer, a tourist to most and therefore possibly flush with cash), the ice cream/dondurma spectacle that is performed for every person who buys the stuff was omitted for this boy. The seller, dressed in a costume shop parody of an old fashioned Ottoman Turk, knew me in passing, and I’d seen him many times entertaining people with his antics, his long metal probe, his bells, his smile. I was surprised when I bought the treat, as I saw that his perception of this boy–clearly destitute and likely part of the refugee population in Istanbul–was unreasonably negative, and distinguished by the marks of derision and apathy that I saw commonly displayed on the street towards these children.
The boy was happy to gain possession of his dondurma, and it hit me how profoundly unfair it was, in just a few seconds, this assertion of a complete lack of worth made by the vendor during our innocuous transaction. His attitude toward me was pleasant enough, but he ultimately viewed the boy’s social status as being too far beneath any effort made to please him, even though it’s in his job description to do so, and despite my presence. It was a big disappointment for me, and left me feeling a strange sense of futility, assuring me that the likely outlook for this boy was more grim than my American naïveté was permitting me to comprehend.
Forty years ago this month, the Centre Georges Pompidou made its debut in Paris. With no proper façade and all its innards—the vents, tubes, electrical piping and service apparatus—laid bare on the outside like a house standing on its own plumbing, and with wide-open, uninterrupted interior space, it challenged the world to look at art museums afresh and stripped of traditional limestone garb.
In the words of one of its young, untested architects, Renzo Piano, this inside-out structure banished forever the notion of museums as “dreary, dusty and esoteric institutions.” He and his partner on the project, the equally untried British architect Richard Rogers, had dreamed of building an anti-monument and ”joyful urban machine.”