"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
To say that Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant-Jesus (Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus) is a masterpiece is a gross understatement. Over sixty years after its composition, it has rightfully earned the recognition of being one of the most important piano works of the 20th century. ... [It] is one of the most personal and intimate pieces Messiaen ever wrote, and it gives the listener a close look at Messiaen the person. Messiaen was a deeply religious person, and although his faith influenced every single piece he wrote, the Vingt Regards is almost like his own personal spiritual diary. - Keith Kerchoff [more inside]
Cambodian Trees by Clément Briend. "La culture cambodgienne est habitée par une spiritualité qui crée une conscience du monde peuplée de génies et d’esprits. Dans le paysage d'une ville endormie, la nuit fait apparaître ces figures divines sur les arbres, permettant ainsi leur incarnation. Par ces projections nocturnes, nous pouvons alors toucher la magie qui illumine leur regard sur le monde." [Via]
By general consent, Jean-Siméon Chardin was one of the supreme artists of the eighteenth century and probably the greatest master of still life in the history of painting. - Robert Hughes [more inside]
The irony in a way is that Messiaen used this great romantic organ for his most modern experiments. For Messiaen, this was a great sort of sonic paintbox, if you like, and he would come here and experiment with the extraordinary sounds that he could conjure out of this amazing instrument. [more inside]
"The Threat to Proust" by Roger Shattuck: When Proust’s novel fell into the public domain in 1987, three Paris publishing houses were ready with new editions that had been in preparation for several years. They all carry the same basic 3,000-page text with few variations. The differences lie in packaging and presentation. Laffont-Bouquins chose to publish three fat volumes prefaced by elaborate historical and biographical materials. Garnier-Flammarion produced ten pocket-sized volumes competently edited by Jean Milly. The new Pléiade edition, published by the original copyright holder, Gallimard, made the boldest, most ambitious, and most expensive bid to claim the market. In a combination of editorial, literary, and commercial decisions, Gallimard proposed to influence the way we read Proust and, to some degree, the way we approach all great literary works. [more inside]
Both an ingeniously choreographed crime film and a moral drama influenced by Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Pickpocket marks the apotheosis of Bresson's stripped-down style. There’s little or no psychological realism or conventional drama at work in Martin La Salle’s portrayal of a master thief who plies his trade at the Gare de Lyon and easily outwits the cops who seek to ensnare him. See it once to appreciate the spare elegance of the pickpocketing scenes, and then a second time to appreciate how subtly Bresson accomplishes the story of a man’s self-willed corruption, his liberation through imprisonment and his redemption through love, all in less than 80 minutes.
Reading Blaise Cendrars is like stepping into another universe. His fiction is unlike anything else I've ever read. His poetry influenced the mighty Guillaume Apollinaire and helped shape the face of modernism. But it is his mockery of biographical detail and the very notion of literature that fascinates me the most. If, like me, you're not a fan of autobiography, then Blaise Cendrars is the memoirist for you.
The French romantic thriller “Diva” dashes along with a pellmell gracefulness, and it doesn’t take long to see that the images and visual gags and homages all fit together and reverberate back and forth. It’s a glittering toy of a movie... This one is by a new director, Jean-Jacques Beineix... who understands the pleasures to be had from a picture that doesn’t take itself very seriously. Every shot seems designed to delight the audience. - Pauline Kael, 1982 [more inside]
Pierre Bonnard died in 1947, after a lifetime of producing a great many intense and beautiful paintings, in keeping with his philosophy of domestic bliss, idealised and frozen in time if not realised in real life. A calm and intelligent man, he pursued his purpose doggedly and left behind an enduring legacy of visual joy. Surely as great an achievement as any painter could wish for. [more inside]
Why watch a movie when you can just watch the titles? Browse title sequences by designer and read interesting backstory and discussion on the art of making a title sequence.
Jacques Rivette, who emerged in the 1950s... as one of the primary filmmakers of the French New Wave, is the most underappreciated (and under-screened) of this legendary group. Rivette’s deliberately challenging, super-size films defy easy assimilation, and demand a level of attention unusual even to his compatriots’ works. In addition to being considered difficult, however, Rivette’s body of work is also, arguably, the richest of the New Wave era, possessing an intellectual inquiry and humanity unmatched in the French cinema of his time. [more inside]
Iconographie ouvrages anciens is a collection of historic animal illustrations that date as far back as the 16th Century, courtesy of the library at Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Lyon. [more inside]
A dreamy animation about life, love, and loss. Un Tour de Manege (A Turn of the Gear) shows the journey of a girl from youth through adulthood.
Les Animaux tel qu'ils sont is a delightful 1920s French art instruction book, showing one how to draw various animals, from the previously discussed Agence Eureka.
@mateurdart is a French-language blog on erotic art in a wide variety of eras and styles. (NSFW)
Stephane Halleux is a French sculpture artist whose work feels like Jules Verne as realized by Tim Burton; the sculptures all share cartoonish steampunk vibe that's really appealing. Sadly, the site is 100% Flash, so no linking to specific favorites, but at the very least the navigation remains fairly straightforward.
Atypyk seems to be two guys from France who change everyday things into stuff you want. From soap and Pez dispensers to art on dollar bills and interesting ideas.
SA VIGNAC. Welcome to the world of Raymond Savignac, the greatest poster artist of all time, and inventor of the little Bic man. Joyous, naughty, simple, elegant, and beautiful.
Insecula. As the Wiki says:
Insecula: L'encyclopédie des arts et de l'architecture is a French language art website containing images and descriptions of thousands of works of art from major museums and collections in France and elsewhere, including the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Palace of Versailles, the Centre Pompidou, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MOMA.But it's not just museums and art. It's got Mayan ruins, Manhattan and Brooklyn, and of course lots of Paris streets. I can't believe plep hasn't posted this already...
"pleix is a virtual community of digital artists based in paris. some of us are 3d artists, some others are musicians or graphic designers. this website is the perfect place to share our latest creations." [note: quicktime]