“We’re in black tie and festive dress and not surrendering… We and France must go on!” said Robert Wilmers Chairman of the Board of FIAF [French Institute Alliance Francaise] to the glamorous crowd at its November 19 Trophee Des Arts Gala at the Plaza. Following a somber emotional singing of “La Marseillaise” by the guests — with many wearing black & silver “Je Suit Paris” lapel ribbon pins given upon arrival —Wilmers declared: “We are here to celebrate France with its vast humanistic culture… France needs your love and support.”
Reflecting on the evening’s honoree — artist Francoise Gilot recipient of FIAF’s Trophee Des Arts Award, New York City’s immediate past mayor Michael Bloomberg — in a videotaped message — said: “I was in Paris last week during the horrific attack… Americans, especially New Yorkers — will never forget the generous outpouring support the French showed us during the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. We will always strive to repay a debt… the bonds between our two countries are forged with deeply shared values. France was with us in the American Revolution and those bonds wouldn’t be broken by  World Wars and they certainly won’t be broken now. By honoring a great artist — whose works span some of the most important movements of the last century — a resident of both France and America—you honor that history.”
In a taped interview with Gilot, journalist Charlie Rose asks ‘Why did Picasso like you as did [Jonas] Salk, your husband?” “Because usually lions do not mate with mice,” was Gilot’s snappy riposte.
On stage— in person, Rose, award-presenter to Gilot, said: “Remembering what the great newspaper Le Monde said after 9/11—‘We are Americans’ —this time we are Parisians. Let me say a few things about Francoise—because I fell in love with her when I did that [filmed] interview—She was hot when she was 20, she was hot when she was 30, she was hot when she was 40, she was hot when she was 50, she was hot when she was 60— [the audience was cheering!]— she was hot when she was 70, she was hot when she was 80, and she is hot [at] 90. She is still a prolific painter…known for looking ahead and she is [but] 93!”
In her interview with Jean-Christian Agid in the evening’s journal, Gilot recalls that as a teenager she looked at her body in a mirror and realized she was pretty. “‘I had weapons for seduction… As an artist I am international. As a person — I am French’”. She met Jonas Salk — son of Russian Jewish immigrants — developer of the first successful Polio vaccine — in Paris in 1969 and stayed with him until his death in 1995.
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, presented the “Pillier d’Or” award to Alexandre de Juniac, Chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM who valiantly touted the airline. FIAF president Marie-Monique Steckel declared: ”At FIAF we believe in celebrating culture a la francaise and in/as a way of resisting intolerance and hate… French culture in all its colors in New York.”
Among the dignitaries: Gerard Araud, France’s Ambassador to the U.S.; Ambassador Francois Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, and Bertrand Lortholary, Consul General of France in New York City.
British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor made news in three European capitals over the Jewish High Holy Days, marching with Ai Weiwei for refugees in London, fighting anti-semitism in France, and opening a major exhibit in Moscow.
The biggest of this media trifecta was the vandalism on a sexually-suggestive piece nicknamed the “queen’s vagina” at the Palace of Versailles, right outside Paris —— and the artist’s fury that French officials ordered it covered up.
The 200-foot funnel-like sculpture (official name: “Dirty Corner”) was defaced with white spray-painted hate words including, “At Versailles Christ is King,” and “the second rape of the nation by deviant Jewish activism.”
The words were gilded over in gold leaf, under the artist’s direction, after local officials rejected his desire that they stay uncovered on the steel-and-rock piece as evidence of “the scars of the renewed attack.”
“We lost, can you believe it?” Kapoor told artnet News in Moscow, where he launched a new exhibit Monday. “Some very racist, in my view, deputy from parliament took me to court. We were forced to hide the graffiti. It’s a terrible, sad thing.”
“You want me to pretend it didn’t happen?” said Kapoor, who is Jewish of Sephardic Iraqi origin and spent much of his youth living in Israel on a kibbutz. “It happened.”
The edges of the white paint can now be seen peeking out from the gold leaf.
France is still reeling from the deadly Muslim terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish grocery and sensitive to growing fears that Jews are not safe there.
“To attack the work of artists is to attack the universal values of culture - that is freedom and human dignity,” French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin said in a statement to reporters. “This is an act that simply shows a fascist vision of culture.”
KAPOOR IN MOSCOW
Kapoor was in Moscow Monday as art assistants started gilding the hate in Versailles. He spoke at the opening of his first solo show in Russia, at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center that opened three years ago in an old Moscow bus depot..
The show, “My Red Homeland,” includes four of the artist’s best known works “encompassing the three major facets of Kapoor’s unique and distinct visual language: voids, mirrors, and the auto-generated,” reports blouinartinfo.
The pieces are, reports the web site:
-The concave painted fiberglass wall sculpture “Shelter” (2007).
-The convex and concave stainless steel sculpture “S-Curve” (2006).
-The mind-bending pigment work “My Body Your Body” (1993).
-The artist’s famous kinetic wax sculpture “My Red Homeland” (2003).
“I am interested in sculpture that manipulates the viewer into a specific relation with both space and time. Time, on two levels; one narratively and cinematically as a matter of the passage through the work, and the other as a literal elongation of the moment,” Kapoor said.
MARCH WITH AI WEIWEI
Before jetting off to Moscow, the activist teamed up with persecuted Chinese creative force Ai WeiWei in London for an eight-mile solidarity walk through the British capital to show support for Syrian refugees on mainland Europe — and refugees everywhere.
“This is a walk of compassion, a walk together as if we were walking to the studio,” said Kapoor. “Peaceful. Quiet. Creative.”
He and Ai urged leaders to keep the doors open and welcome families trying to leave behind wr and misery.
“This problem has such a long history, a human history. We are all refugees somehow, somewhere and at some moment,” Ai told The Guardian.
Follow John A. Oswald on Twitter - @nyc_oz
Have you heard? The 70s are back this year — big time.
Get ready to see flares, suede, stacked heals, turtlenecks and wrap dresses — and not just in reruns of “Charlie’s Angels.”
Too overwhelming? Need some style inspiration? No one, and I mean no one, made the 70s look better than Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. The French-Jewish singer and his British model muse perfected the “I woke up like this” look long before there was a Beyonce. And that Hermes bag you’ve been coveting? Guess who it’s named after.
Now, their look has been revamped for the younger generation. It seems Alice Attal, daughter of Charlotte Gainsbourg — model, actress, singer, and it girl in her own right — and French-Israeli director Yvan Attal (and granddaughter to Serge and Jane) has picked up the family fashion mantle.
Attal, 15, appears with her mother in the 20th anniversary ad campaign for Comptoir des Cottoniers, one of those French brands that promises an instantly cooler you. It’s her first modeling gig, but one look at those perfect eyebrows and shiny, effortless-looking hair tells you it won’t be her last.
Charlie Hebdo will be back en force on Wednesday, after a terror attack that left 12 dead.
The magazine is set to release a record-breaking 3 million copies this week, dwarfing its usual print run of 60,000 in response to soaring demand for the first edition of the satirical weekly since last week’s deadly attacks by Islamist militants.
Charlie Hebdo staff has been working out of makeshift offices at French newspaper Libération. On Sunday, at least 3.7 million people took part throughout France in marches of support for Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression.
The cover, published Monday night in anticipation of Wednesday’s release, shows the prophet Mohammed holding a #JeSuisCharlie sign. The caption above reads: “All is forgiven.”
As a cartoonist, I’ve often been scared to breach political topics in an overt way. My fear centers on the reactions I might get from family and friends, or from internet trolls — but never on any concern for my life. That reality has now changed.
Can’t sleep tonight, thoughts with my French cartooning colleagues, their families and loved ones #CharlieHebdo pic.twitter.com/LqIMRCHPgK — David Pope (@davpope) January 7, 2015
This is a heart-wrenching week for the cartooning community. Two masked gunmen stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, four of which were cartoonists: Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier (47), the editor in chief, Jean “Cabu” Cabut, Georges Wolinksi (80) and Verlhac “Tignous” Bernard (58).
I’ve often looked up to cartoonists like those staffing Charlie Hebdo: it takes some real chutzpah and strength of character to make fun of the most charged and sensitive topics out there. Yet they do it with ease, regularity and ferocity. Nothing was sacred for the satirical publication: It made fun of French politicians, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims — oh, and Israel, too. Nothing was off-limits and the cartoons were often offensive and sometimes crass and arguably racist.
Cartoon by Michael Shaw, from a 2012 @BobMankoff post on satire. http://t.co/Wo3TEqnWjD #JeSuisCharlie #ChalieHebdo pic.twitter.com/JSTVDNDi53 — Toronto Comics (@TorontoComics) January 7, 2015
But the cartooning community is reeling from the repercussions. Charlie Hebdo was a satirical publication, not just a cartooning magazine. And yet the reason it got attention was because of its strong images, a lot of which were drawn by its editor in chief Charb (Stephane Charbonnier). Charb had been getting death threats for years and the publication was previously bombed in 2011. Charb’s latest cartoon, seen below, said: Caption: Still no terror attacks in France Character: “Wait! We have until the end of January to present our wishes!”
Charb dans le Charlie Hebdo de la semaine. pic.twitter.com/jb2rcR5W8H — Alexandre Hervaud (@AlexHervaud) January 7, 2015
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