Issuu on Google+

the best of culture, tr avel & art de vivre

W int e r 2 0 0 9 -10

$5.95 U.S. / $6.95 Canada / francemagazine.org

No.92

Special Issue: BORDEAUX’s Extreme Estates


Spo nsors France Magazine thanks the following donors for their generous support.

For additional information on our sponsorship program and benefits, contact: Marika Rosen, Director of Sponsorship, Tel. 202/944-6093 or e-mail SponsorFrance@gmail.com.


Winter 2009-10 features 24 Renoir A new exhibit examines why art aficionados lost their taste for Renoir—and why they should reconsider by Sara Romano

34 Extreme Estates Edgy architecture at Bordeaux’s great vineyards goes hand in hand with technical advances—and a passion for what’s in the glass by Karen Taylor

departments 5 The f: section Culture, Beaux Livres, Sons & Images, Bon Voyage, Nouveautés edited by Melissa Omerberg

20 Délices & Saveurs Kitchen Aids by Renée Schettler

22 Art de Vivre Toy Story by Tracy Kendrick

66 Calendrier French Cultural Events in North America by Tracy Kendrick

72 Temps Modernes Black and Light by Michel Faure

• Chef Edouard Loubet’s

tempting “Crispy Nougatine Roll,” featured in his new cookbook. Story page 20.


For years, various publishing consultants have urged me to put my photo on this page, insisting that it would help us better connect with our readers. While I respect their opinion, I just can’t fathom why readers would care what an editor looks like. That hasn’t changed, but I decided to share this image with you because I think that its story sums up so much of what I found to be extraordinary about the Bordeaux estates we report on in these pages. It was taken last June, when I was in the region researching our articles on new winery architecture (see page 34). Along with another journalist and a photographer, I had been invited to lunch with Mr. Philippe Castéjà, President of the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855. We met him at Château Batailley, a family property located in Pauillac. This lovely 18th-century chartreuse is the quintessential Bordeaux château; filled with antique furnishings, old books and family photos, it has a relaxed elegance that speaks to generations of gracious living and entertaining. Indeed, Bordeaux estates have warmly welcomed guests from around the world for centuries. Typically, many different bottles are served during the course of a meal: The idea is to taste rather than drink. In keeping with that tradition, Mr. Castéjà presented us with six different wines, each carefully selected ahead of time and served with just the proper decorum by the elderly butler. As is often the case when dining with winemakers, the various vintages were the focus of our attention and discussions; conversations occasionally took detours to other topics but inevitably returned to the glass—how the wine had aged, the weather the year it was made and so on. Two days after that memorable lunch, a gift-wrapped package showed up at my room. Unbeknownst to me, my host had asked the photographer for copies of the photos he had taken that day, then had one of them enlarged, framed and delivered to my door. It showed me signing the Batailley guestbook, and a note written on the matting offered it as a souvenir of my visit. Throughout the rest of my trip, this extreme thoughtfulness, this exquisite attention to detail and natural reflex to do the exceptional struck me as emblematic of what I was seeing in the region’s leading vineyards. These highly competitive winemakers must always surpass themselves; at their level, improvements are incremental—often the result of an excruciating attention to what might at first appear to be insignificant details. For them, it seems, going to extremes is simply what they do. We hope you will enjoy their stories, and that they will add to your enjoyment of Bordeaux’s great wines. Karen Taylor

Editor 2

F r a n c e • w i n t e r 2 0 0 9 -1 0

France magazine

Editor Karen Taylor

Senior Editor/Web Editor Melissa Omerberg

Associate Editor RACHEL BEAMER

Copy Editor lisa olson

Proofreader steve moyer

Art Director todd albertson

Production Manager Associate Art Director/Webmaster patrick nazer

Contributors MIchel faure, now

retired from L’Express, is pursuing a variety of journalistic ventures • TRACY KENDRICK is a freelance journalist who often writes about French culture • Sara romano covers French cultural topics for a number of publications • RENÉE SCHETTLER is a freelance writer with a special interest in food; she has worked as editor and writer at Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple and The Washington Post • JULIA SAMMUT is a food writer and partner in TravelFood, a company offering custom culinary tours • Heather Stimmler-Hall is an author and a hotel and travel writer for Fodor’s, Hotelier International and easyJet inflight magazine • ELIZABETH THRUSH writes about culture, decorative arts and lifestyles.

EDITORIAL OFFICE

4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007-2182; Tel. 202/944-6069; mail @francemagazine.org. Submission of articles or other materials is done at the risk of the sender; France Magazine cannot accept liability for loss or damage.

www.francemagazine.org

GUY CHARNE AU

Dear Readers,


France

France Magazine

Gift Subscriptions

magazine Publisher

EMMANUEL LENAIN

Director of Sponsorship Marika Rosen

Director of Advertising Meredith davis

Accountant Maria de Araujo

Intern Marion meissonnier

France Magazine is published by the French-American Cultural Foundation,

style

wit

beauty

a nonprofit organization that supports cultural events as well as educational initiatives and exchanges between France and the United States. Tel. 202/944-6090/91/69

insight

... for only $19.97!

advertising

www.francemagazine.org

Meredith Davis Tel. 202/944-6021 davismld @ gmail.com

COVER

subscriptions

château lafite rothschild’s underground barrel cellar, designed by ricardo bofill in

1986, is a landmark in bordeaux

winery architecture. in this image, the space provides a dramatic venue for a black-tie dinner hosted by the conseil des grands crus classés en

1855. story page 34. photo: ©cyril le tourneur d’ison.

Photo credits Renoir p. 25: philadelphia museum of art; pp. 26-27: ©albert harlingue / roger -viollet, los angeles county museum of art, morohashi museum of art / kitashiobara ( japan ); pp.

28-29:

national gallery of canada / ottawa , the art

institute of chicago , musée national de l’orangerie / paris , musée d’orsay / paris , musée national picasso / paris , philadelphia museum of art ; pp.

30-31:

musée d’art sacré du gard / pont- saint- esprit, yves hiou, olives bernard,

bridgestone museum of art- ishibashi foundation / tokyo ; pp.

32-33:

national gallery of art / washington dc,

© rmn /

hervé lewandowski, musée d’orsay / paris .

Extreme Estates pp. 34-35: courtesy of mario botta ; pp. 36-37: wilmotte & associés s. a .; pp. 38-39: service presse / baron philippe de rothschild s . a .,

©alain

benoit / studio deepix / bordeaux ; pp.

40-41:

château cantemerle,

©2006

châteaux et associés constitué de château pichon - longueville , château pibran , château petit- village , château suduiraut, château belles eaux, disznókö, quinta do noval; pp.

42-43: château la mission haut-brion, ©sara matthews 2008; p. 44: philippe caumes ; pp. 46-47: guy charneau ; pp. 48-49: guy charneau ; courtesy of château cos d’estournel, château pontet- canet, château lynch - bages ; p. 50: ©2004 a . gariteai /château pichon - longueville, ©2006 châteaux et associés constitué de château pichon - longueville, château pibran , château petit- village, château suduiraut, château belles eaux , disznókö, quinta do noval ; p. 51: courtesy of château la lagune, château brane - cantenac ; pp. 52-53: ©alain benoit/ studio deepix / bordeaux, courtesy of château montrose ; pp. 54-55: © h. lefebvre, philippe caumes ; pp. 56-57: courtesy of château fonplégade, château franc mayne, philippe mazières ; p. 58: bruno legrand architecture, ©2006 châteaux et associés constitué de château pichon - longueville, château pibran, château petitvillage, château suduiraut, château belles eaux , disznókö, quinta do noval; p. 59: courtesy of château de lussac ; pp. 60-61: ©equivox ; pp. 62-63: ©equivox, atelier des architectes mazières, ©sara matthews 2008, ©2005 les vignobles andré lurton ; pp. 64-65: courtesy of château haut-selve, château la mission haut-brion, domaine de chevalier.

4

F r a n c e • w i n t e r 2 0 0 9 -1 0

France Magazine is published four times a year. Yearly subscriptions are $23.80 ($28.79 for Canadian and other foreign orders, $24.78 for DC residents). To subscribe, go to www.francemagazine.org or contact Subscription Services, France Magazine, PO Box 9032, Maple Shade, NJ 08052-9632. Tel. 800/324-8049 (U.S. orders), Tel. 856/380-4118 (foreign orders), Fax 856/380-4101. POSTMASTER

Please send address changes to France Magazine, Circulation Department, PO Box 9032, Maple Shade, NJ 08052-9632. ISSN 0886-2478. Periodicals class postage held in Washington, DC, and at an additional mailing office.

www.francemagazine.org


L e g s J a c q u e l i n e D e l u b a c , 19 9 7

magazıne

f • Francis Bacon’s

“Study for Bullfight No. 2” (1969) is one of the modern works on display at Lyon’s Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Edited by melissa omerberg

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

5


Culture

Paris & the provinces •

Augustin Rouart’s “Enfant Dormant No. 1” (1946) is featured in “Les Enfants Modèles,” at the Orangerie.

industry, drew writers and thinkers from throughout the Continent, while newly rich businessmen vied to commission works of art that served as a symbol of their rise in society. The Pinacothèque de Paris looks at this period in L’Age d’Or Hollandais – De Rembrandt à Vermeer, which features more

than 130 works and showcases in particular the importance of Rembrandt, the most influential artist of his era. Through Feb. 7; pinacotheque.com.

paris

Michael Kenna English-born photographer Michael Kenna describes his work as “much closer to haiku than to Joyce.” His intimate black-and-white landscapes are exquisitely crafted, mysterious and consummately poetic, whether they depict formal French gardens or industrial sites. Michael Kenna, an eponymous retrospective presented by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, features 210 photographs, including recent works devoted to China and Egypt that are being displayed publicly for the first time. Through Jan. 24; bnf.fr. Design 3.0 VIA, an organization that promotes innovation in French design, celebrates its 30th birthday in January. To mark that occasion, the Centre Pompidou is presenting VIA Design 3.0, showcasing some 40 prototypes of the most representative examples of

6

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

French design created during the past three decades; they include early VIA-financed works by such original talents as Philippe Starck, Martin Szekely, Jean-Paul Gaultier, the Bouroullec Brothers, Matali Crasset, Mathieu Lehanneur and Andrée Putman. Alongside these now-iconic objects will be a number of creations by up-and-coming designers recently “discovered” by VIA. Through Feb. 1; centrepompidou.fr. From Rembrandt to Vermeer For the Dutch, the 17th century was a time of commercial growth and religious tolerance—unlike in the rest of Europe, which was plagued by economic recession and intolerance. Amsterdam, a leading center of commerce and

• A detail from an elaborately

embroidered Alsatian bonnet (early 19th century), on view this winter at Colmar’s Musée Unterlinden.

A Living Sculpture The Musée Bourdelle celebrates one of the pioneers of modern dance in Isadora Duncan (1877-1927): Une Sculpture Vivante. The show focuses on five themes: the private salons where the iconoclastic dancer f irst performed; the sculptures, paintings and draw-

R é u n i o n d e s m u s é e s n at i o n a u x ; Z V A R D ON

exhibits

Matisse & Rodin Matisse and Rodin first met in 1899, when the former was 30 and the latter was 60. Yet the story of their relationship, which continued for another 17 years, has remained largely unexplored. The Musée Rodin tackles this intriguing subject in M a t i s s e & Rodin, which highlights the sculptor’s inf luence on the younger artist and examines the points of convergence and divergence in the two masters’ sculptural and graphic works. Through Feb. 28; musee-rodin.fr.


• This intricately decorated

19th-century serving spoon from Iran is part of the prestigious Khalili collection.

© N o u r F o u n d at i o n . C o u r t e s y o f t h e K h a l i l i Fa m i ly Tr u s t; Pat r i c k T o u r n e b o e u f / T e n d a n c e fl o u e / EMOC / c h â e t e a u d e V e r s a i ll e s

ings that she inspired; her fascination with Ancient Greece; period photographs of Duncan and her eminent contemporaries; and the artistic relationship between Duncan and sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, a protégé of Rodin. Through March 7; bourdelle.paris.fr. Monumenta Each year, Monumenta invites a contemporary artist to create a site-specific exhibit for the Grand Palais’s expansive nave. This year’s guest of honor is Christian Boltanski; his installation, “Personnes,” (which can mean either “people” or “nobodies”) offers an extended reflection on life, memory and the irreducible individuality of every human being, as well as death and chance. As part of this event, visitors are invited to record their heartbeats for Boltanski’s “Archives du Coeur” project. Meanwhile, the Musée MAC/ VAL, in the Paris suburbs, is hosting a pendant exhibit, “Après,” in which Boltanski explores the notion of the afterlife. Monumenta: Jan 13 through Feb. 21; monumenta.com. Après: Jan. 14 through March 28; macval.fr. Model Children Many artist-parents have used their children as models— an experience that can be exhilarating or nightmarish for both. Jean-Paul Belmondo, whose father was a sculptor, was apparently quite the enfant terrible; JeanMarie Rouart, of the Académie Française, recalls feeling terrified when he awoke in

the middle of the night to find his father sketching him by flashlight. In Les Enfants Modèles de Claude Renoir à Pierre Arditi,

the Orangerie looks at these very personal, often moving moments. Through March 8; musee-orangerie.fr. Pierre Soulages The Centre Pompidou presents a major retrospective devoted to one of France’s greatest living artists, Pierre Soulages. Known as the “painter of black and light,” Soulages is considered one of the major figures in postwar Abstraction; the show, which brings together more than 100 major works created since 1946, includes many recent paintings that have never before been displayed. Through March 8; centrepompidou.fr. Islamic Arts The Institut du Monde Arabe is presenting more than 450 works from the world’s finest private collection of Islamic art. Arts de l’Islam: Chefs-d’oeuvre de la Collection Khalili features

treasures created for sultans, princes and merchants including exquisite glass, ceramics, jewelry, illustrated manuscripts, textiles and paintings. These precious objects hail from countries as far west as Spain and Morocco and as far east as Mongolia and China. Through March 14; imarabe.org.

Fast Trains In 1859, it took nearly 20 hours to travel by train from Paris to Marseille. Today’s TGV takes three. Toujours Plus Vite! Les Défis du Rail traces the history of train travel in France and the perennial quest for greater speed; the show includes scale models, original signed posters, literary works featuring the “iron horse” and archival footage of speed records. Through May 2; arts-et-metiers.net. Cherchez Les Femmes The Centre Pompidou is devoting its entire fourth floor and part of the fifth to female artists of the 20th century. Featuring more than 500 works drawn from the museum’s collection, elles @ centrepompidou highlights the role of women in the artistic avant garde. A wide variety of media will be represented: painting, sculpture, photography, design, architecture, video, film…. Through May 24; centrepompidou.fr.

The Sopranos The Château de Versailles’s spectacular opéra ROYAL recently re-opened to

the public after a two-year renovation. Now music lovers can step back into the 18th century and experience the classics amid the opulence to which the French court had become accustomed. This winter’s highlights include Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” with Marc Callahan in the title role, and

Magic Lanterns Voltaire, Balzac, Goethe and Proust were all enchanted by the magic lantern—the precursor of the modern slide projector. Hand-painted glass slides were inserted into this optical instrument, revealing mythological, historical or religious vignettes, the wonders of nature or scenes of horror. Lanterne Magique et Film Peint – 400 Ans de Cinéma, at the Cinémathèque Française, is the largestever show of these hand-painted slides, dating from 1659 to the early 20th century; the exhibit also features a collection of magic lanterns, some boasting shapes as fanciful as the slides themselves. Through March 28; cinematheque.fr.

Lully’s “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” based on the famous Molière play. Spring brings “The Marriage of Figaro,” Cherubini’s “From Medea to Pygmalion” and Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. chateauversailles.spectacles.fr

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

7


Culture Lyon

The Moderns Lyon’s Musée des Beaux-Arts boasts a rich collection of 20th-century paintings representing most of the period’s main artistic movements, from Fauvism to Abstraction. For Picasso, Matisse, Dubuffet, Bacon ... Les Modernes s’exposent

it supplemented its own holdings with loans from outside institutions. Comprising 200 works, the show offers a rare opportunity to view canvases that are usually hidden away in the museum’s reserves. Through Feb. 15; mba-lyon.fr.

au Musee des Beaux-Arts,

VERSAILLES

Michael Kenna’s uncharacteristically urban “Mary Poppins Over Midtown” (2006) is part of a •retrospective at the BNF.

Shining City In the 13th century, Paris became Europe’s de facto cultural capital, thanks in large part to the influence of its architecture. Paris, Ville Rayonnante, at the Musée du Moyen Age/ Musée de Cluny, examines some 60 buildings that were built or rebuilt during that period, focusing in particular on the artistic and historical merits of five spectacular structures: Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the refectory of SaintMartin-des-Champs and the Chapel of the Virgin of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Through May 24; musee-moyenage.fr. 8

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

COLMAR

Spangles and Silk In the 18th century, ladies from well-to-do Alsatian families wore coiffes, headpieces mounted on metal frames and bedecked with gold or silver embroidery or glass beads; also popular were bonnets fashioned from sumptuous silks that were embroidered in gold or silver thread and adorned with lace. Eventually, this fashion was adopted by the wives of artisans and prosperous farmers. Quelques Paillettes, un Peu de Soie … showcases some 200 of these lavish creations from the 18th and early 19th centuries. Through Feb. 28; musee-unterlinden.com. LILLE

From Drawing to Animation The Palais des Beaux-Arts explores the influence of classical drawing on contemporary graphics in E.motion Graphique: Du

iLouvre Established as a museum in 1793, the Louvre has kept up with modern times— most recently through a free new iPhone app that allows users to view works of art, zoom in on details, read about their history, identify their location within the museum, watch videos and obtain practical information (opening hours and so on). Additional features are promised for the coming months.

Dessin Ancien à l’Animation Contemporaine.

Organized by category (faces, bodies, architecture, drapery, allegories and landscapes), the show juxtaposes some 160 drawings by artists such as Raphael, Watteau, David, Delacroix, Fantin-Latour and Matisse with ultra-contemporary music videos and films. Through Feb. 22, pba-lille.fr.

©Mick ael kenna

Turner and the Masters J.M.W. Turner built his reputation as a painter by challenging the works of Old Masters, whom he studied intently. Yet while striving to surpass their creations, his own works can be seen as an extended homage to his forebears. Turner et Ses Peintres offers a rare opportunity to view Turner’s canvases alongside some of the masterpieces that inspired them; the show presents paintings by more than 30 other artists, among them Canaletto, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, Watteau and Constable. Feb. 22 through May 24; grandpalais.fr.

Louis Louis For the first time ever, the Château de Versailles is devoting a large-scale exhibit to the man responsible for creating the vast palace and park. Louis XIV: L’Homme et le Roi delves into the monarch’s public image and personal tastes, revealing a passionate patron and connoisseur of the arts, whose interests included painting, theater, music, architecture and garden design. The château has amassed more than 300 ancien régime masterpieces—canvases, sculptures, furniture and objets—from collections worldwide. Through Feb. 7; chateauversailles.fr.


• The Mariinsky Ballet performs the “Little Humpbacked Horse,” coming to Paris in 2010. Legend has it that the word “bistro” was first heard in France when Russian troops occupying Paris after the Napoleonic Wars were annoyed by the lackadaisical service they encountered at the city’s eateries. To get their waiters to step up the pace (even then, probably a lost cause), they supposedly shouted “bistro, bistro”—the Russian word for “quickly.” Well, the Russians are back, this time as invited guests, and they’re bringing a rich menu of cultural events with them. L’ANNÉE DE LA RUSSIE EN FRANCE offers a wide-ranging celebration of Russian art, music, theater, film and dance—to be savored slowly, over the course of 2010. As part of this yearlong program, museums in Paris and the provinces are presenting ancient icons, romantic canvases and contemporary works, while festivals in Paris, Lyon, Nice, Cannes, St-Malo and a number of smaller towns are showcasing Russian art, cinema and literature. It may be music and dance enthusiasts, however, who are in for the most spectacular treats: performances of all of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies by the Mariinsky (Kirov) Orchestra; a touring production of Angelin Preljocaj’s “Apocalypse,” co-produced by the Bolshoi; and a Paris performance by the Mariinsky Ballet, are but a few of the stellar highlights. Finally, in honor of Russia’s national day on June 12, the Grand Palais hosts a five-day extravaganza (June 12 to 16) focusing on Russia today, presenting the latest Russian advances in space, aeronautics, new technologies and, yes, culture. The event will feature contemporary art, concerts, circus acts and culinary specialties. Oh, da. Jan. 5, 2010, to Jan. 13, 2011; culturesfrance.com.

10

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

N ata s h a R a z i n a

spotlight on... L’Année de la Russie en France


Livres ANDRÉE PUTMAN Complete Works

by Donald Albrecht

Andrée Putman’s work is often considered the embodiment of contemporary French design: luxurious yet restrained, geometric yet sensual, true to the early 20th-century Modernists whose creations she has championed. This elegant monograph covers every aspect of Putman’s wide-ranging career, including projects for chic hotels and restaurants, private homes, museum spaces and fashionable boutiques—all characterized by a supreme attention to detail. Rizzoli, $85.

THE AGE OF COMFORT by Joan DeJean

Until the late 17th century, privacy and comfort in one’s own home were concepts that didn’t exist for European nobles; displaying one’s power and magnificence were paramount. That began to change with the sybaritic Louis XV, when la commodité became the new buzzword; the early 18th century brought the first comfortable seating, not to mention private bedrooms and bathrooms. DeJean offers an engaging account of the period that forged our modern notions of domesticity and leisure. Bloomsbury, $28.

MUSEE DU QUAI BRANLY The Collection

edited by Yves Le Fur

Designed by Jean Nouvel, the Musée du Quai Branly has continued to draw crowds since its 2006 opening, both because of its architecture—its “vertical garden” in particular has earned kudos— and its expansive collection of indigenous art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. This new volume—a combination of illustrated art book and scholarly tome—shows off some of the highlights of that collection, shedding light on their history, context, use and aesthetic value. Flammarion, $95.

PARIS UNDER WATER by Jeffrey H. Jackson

In 1910, the Seine overflowed its banks after weeks of torrential rain; the flooding affected 11 of Paris’s 20 arrondissements. The author, who had access to a wealth of archival materials—city documents, unpublished correspondence, newspaper accounts, private journals, photos, even the diary kept by the chief of police—posits that the way Parisians rallied together during this calamity proved crucial four years later with the onset of another tragedy: the outbreak of WWI. Palgrave Macmillan, $27.

ELIE LASCAUX A Painter of Poetry

edited by Xavier Vilato

Painter Elie Lascaux frequented such luminaries as Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Antonin Artaud and was well known in the art and entertainment worlds of the 1920s and 1930s. This new volume offers an opportunity to rediscover his semi-naïve, dreamlike canvases. Along with beautifully reproduced paintings, it includes his curious assemblages, decorative objects and, best of all, a page-by-page facsimile of illustrated “memoirs” he created for his grandson—the book’s editor. Flammarion, $85.

TASCHEN’S PARIS Hotels, Restaurants & Shops by Angelika Taschen; photos by Vincent Knapp

City guide meets coffee-table book meets reference volume in this hefty offering from Taschen, complete with cut-out tabs that make it easy to turn directly to the chapter you wish to consult. This trilingual book brings together all of the recommendations of its well-known writer/editor—the places she says best “capture [Paris’s] character and atmosphere.” Whether traditional, trendy or simply timeless, Taschen’s hundred or so venues are gorgeously photographed and well worth a trip. Taschen, $39.99.

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

11


On Screen QUEEN TO PLAY Adapted

from a novel by first-time director Caroline Bottaro, Queen to Play stars Sandrine Bonnaire as a housekeeper in Corsica whose life changes as she masters the game of chess. Hélène (Bonnaire) first comes upon a couple engrossed in a heated game as she cleans a hotel room one morning. Intrigued by their intensity and sexual chemistry and desiring to experience something Kevin Kline and Sandrine similar in her life, she takes Bonnaire make the right moves in Queen to Play. up the game. Eventually, she convinces her employer, Dr. Kröger (Kevin Kline, in his first entirely French-speaking role), to become her teacher. Featuring Jennifer Beals. Slated release: January 15. (Liberation Entertainment) THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN Loosely inspired by the “RER D affair” that riveted France in 2004, Andre Téchiné’s new film explores the origins of a lie and reunites him with his actrice fêtiche Catherine Deneuve. Jeanne (Emilie Dequenne) is the young woman at the center of the scandal, who pretends to have been the victim of an anti-Semitic crime on a commuter train. Her story launches a media frenzy, stirs up fears and even results in a sympathetic phone call from the President. Louise (Deneuve) instantly suspects that the story is false and seeks the means to help her daughter confess the truth and finally become an adult. With Michel Blanc and Mathieu Demy. Slated release: January 22. (Strand Releasing) A PROPHET Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Read My Lips) received the grand prize at Cannes for A Prophet, his fictional film about organized crime and prison life. The complex plot centers around the choices and struggles of the protagonist, Malik (Tahar Rahim), an illiterate 19-year-old without family who has been sentenced to six years behind bars. Malik is taken in by the prison’s Corsican gang and valued for his ability to speak Arabic. First entering their world by committing murder, he rises through their ranks while secretly concocting his own plans. The film has also been selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign-Language film category at the 2010 Oscars. Slated release: February 26. (Sony Pictures Classics)

Music François-Frédéric Guy Beethoven: Piano Concertos No 2 & 3

Raised by pianists in Normandy, virtuoso soloist FrançoisFrédéric Guy revealed his aptitude for music at a young age. Currently embarking on a world tour, Guy recently released his third album of Beethoven’s piano concertos. “No 2 & 3” was performed with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of conductor Philippe Jordan (music director of the Paris Opéra). (Naïve) Jil is Lucky The Wanderer

The aptly titled debut album from 24-year-old anti-folk newcomer Jil is drawn from his time abroad in such places as the Czech Republic and Algeria. Using mysterious aliases such as Superschneider and La Vega, the band’s musicians mix diverse instruments (harmonica, bongo and cello, to name a few) to create their eclectic, danceable sound. Fans across France can listen for the album’s catchy title track on TV, where it is slated to appear in a Kenzo Flower commercial in 2010. (ROY Music) By RACHEL BEAMER Additional film and music reviews as well as sound clips are available on francemagazine.org.

new on dvd

12

FOOD BEWARE (2008) Set in the bucolic

A CHRISTMAS TALE (2008) With this

TOI ET MOI (2006) Marion Cotillard and

French village of Barjac (population 1,400), the documentary Food Beware tracks the town’s effort to have its schools serve meals made with locally grown, organic ingredients. Directed by Jean-Paul Jaud, the film features numerous interviews with the townspeople including teachers, farmers, health-care workers and elected officials, as well as footage of a UNESCO symposium of medical experts. With original music by Oscar-winner Gabriel Yared. (First Run Features)

Golden-Palm nominated feature, director Arnaud Desplechin brings to the screen an emotional comedy of family dysfunction set during the holidays. At its center is Catherine Deneuve as Junon, the family matriarch. Having been recently diagnosed with leukemia, she is searching for a bone-marrow donor from among her three children, played by Anne Consigny, Melvil Poupaud and Mathieu Almaric. With Emmanuelle Devos and Chiara Mastroianni. (Criterion Collection)

Julie Depardieu star as sisters in this romantic comedy, the second feature from director Julie Lopes-Curval (Bord de mer). Bubbly and passionate Ariane (Depardieu) invents fanciful stories for her photographic romance novels, even as she struggles to persuade her commitmentphobic boyfriend to settle down. At times she draws inspiration for her stories from her sister, Lena (Cotillard), a timid concert cellist who has her eye on a handsome soloist. (Koch Lorber)

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

© 2 0 0 9 L i b e r at i o n E n t e r ta i n m e n t, All R i g h t s R e s e rv e d

Sons & Images


Bon Voyage

Notes for the savvy traveler CHIC SLEEPS

• Hôtel Le Petit Paris, a new 20-room luxury hotel near the Pantheon, was decorated by Sybille de Margerie, known for her work at the Crillon. Here

SNOW JOB

Ready to hit the French slopes? Before booking your ski vacation, visit Europe Mountains. This

useful Web site includes • Sweet dreams are

country-specific pages

part of the décor at the new Hôtel Le Petit Paris and revamped Hôtel Sorbonne (inset).

featuring hotels, maps,

(g)

and advice on choosing destinations that cater to families, the young and trendy, beginners—even non-skiers in need of alternative activities. Snow reports and listings of current resort deals make it the perfect jumping-off

GUIDES

• Paris and Her Remarkable Women by Lorraine Liscio. Each

of the chapters in this attractive little volume is devoted to an exceptional Parisienne, beginning with Geneviève—the city’s patron saint—and ending with Simone de Beauvoir. All include biographical information and a list of sites to visit. The Little Bookroom; $19.95. • Paris Movie Walks by Michael Schürmann. Cinéphiles will appreciate the 10 walking tours in this detailed guide; they cover much of Paris and relate to more than 150 films, from Amélie to Zazie dans le Métro. An added plus: the author’s list of movies to watch before your trip. The Intrepid Traveler, $15.95. • In Love in France by Rhonda Carrier. This new guide showcases hotels, restaurants, gardens, castles and scenic spots sure to make your heart go pitter-patter. For the seriously smitten, there’s a chapter on getting married in France. Rizzoli, $24.95.

14

ski rental information

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

point for a last-minute trip to the Alps. europemountains.com

© c . b i e l s a ; J a s o n W h i t ta k e r / J é r ô m e d ’Al m e i d a ; a g e n c e n u t s / va l d ' i s e r e t o u r i s t o ff i c e

she paired delicate silks and velvets with contemporary lighting and custom furnishings to create memorable rooms inspired by different historical periods; all have flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. €240 to €360, with special offers available online; hotelpetitparis.com. • Hôtel Sorbonne has gotten a major makeover—rooms have been fully renovated with designer fabrics and sumptuous wallpaper and are equipped with new Apple iMacs. The décor references the neighborhood’s artistic heritage, with photo exhibitions on each floor and quotes from literary classics woven into the rugs. Includes free Wi-Fi. From €100 to €350, with promotions available online; hotelsorbonne.com. • The BLC Design Hotel is a vision in white, white and more white (“BLC” stands for blanc). This sleek new boutique hotel near the Bastille features 29 minimalist rooms with oversized photographs and modern furnishings, flat-screen TVs and Internet connections. The café serves breakfast and, later in the day, a selection of organic wines. From €100; blcdesign-hotel-paris.com. • Les Sources de Caudalie’s famous Ile aux Oiseaux suite—a one-bedroom cabin perched on stilts—has received a new look for its 10th anniversary. While the architecture evokes the region’s traditional fishing cottages, the interior is spare and modern following a just-unveiled redesign by avant-garde couturier Martin Margiela. €650; sources-caudalie.com.


Bon Voyage

Notes for the savvy traveler

TABLE TALK

• Grab a bite before lunch or

dinner at Yves Camdeborde’s Avant Comptoir —the brandnew, standing-room-only wine bar next to the chef’s famous (and famously packed) Comptoir du Relais. One of the founders of the bistronomie movement, Camdeborde serves up Basqueand Béarn-inspired hors d’oeuvres (including a fabulous assortment of charcuterie) that • Charcuterie is the star at Yves Camdeborde’s Avant Comptoir. you can wash down with an excellent apéro. Between €3 and €6; 3 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 6e; Tel. 33/1-44-27-07-97. • Also generating major buzz: William Ledeuil’s KGB (for Kitchen Galerie Bis). This new Thai-inflected bistro offers fare similar to that of Ledeuil’s Ze Kitchen Galerie in a more relaxed, convivial setting. Look for such fusion delicacies as eggplant cannelloni à la japonaise, fried quail egg, and white bean soup with coconut milk, parsley and coriander flowers. Lunch menus at €27 and €34, about €50 for dinner; 25 rue des Grands Augustins, 6e; Tel. 33/1-46-33-00-85. • Daniel Rose, the British chef at the ultra-popular Spring, has just opened Table 28 —a new rôtisserie where the chicken truly is finger-lickin’ good. And if you’re not into fowl play, the suckling pig and roast lamb are pretty darn yummy too. Open for dinner only, except on weekends, when lunch is also served Menu at €29; 28 rue de la Tour d’Auvergne, 9 e; Tel. 33/6-42-87-79-64; http://table28paris.blogspot.com.

EASY MONEY

Processing your VAT refund at Roissy-

Charles de Gaulle Airport just got more convenient. Passengers can now scan their refund forms at one of the red selfservice machines located in the check-in area at every terminal and then again through a second machine in

• Taster’s Choice Ward off the winter chill with a sip of fine French wine: Free dégustations are held on Saturdays from 10 A.M to 2 P.M. at the prestigious Caves Taillevent (taillevent.com), and on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M. at La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché (lagrandeepicerie.fr). • Soldes by Paris A number of Parisian hotels, restaurants, tour operators and cultural sites are participating in “Soldes by Paris,” a tourist-office initiative promoting the annual winter sales (Jan. 13 through Feb. 17). All offer their own special discounts. parisinfo.com or shoppingbyparis.com • Added Value Thanks to a big cut in the VAT—the tax was recently slashed from 19.6 percent to 5.5 percent on items such as meat, fish, soft drinks, mineral water and coffee—restaurant goers are in much better shape when they receive l’addition. Several establishments— Libre Sens, on rue Marbeuf, and the Léon de Bruxelles, Chez Clément and Hippopotamus chains—are celebrating with extra discounts. • Winging It Getting around France is easier than ever as budget airlines continue to open new routes throughout the country. Ryanair (ryanair.com) now flies to Biarritz and Marseille, Bmi Baby (bmibaby.com) connects Perpignan, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Lourdes, and easyJet (easyjet.com) is adding Lyon and Nantes to its already extensive list of cities including La Rochelle, Grenoble, Bastia and Ajaccio. Heather Stimmler-Hall and Julia Sammut contributed to this section.

16

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

the boarding lounge, which confirms their exit from France. There are 35 such kiosks throughout the airport. douane.gouv.fr

A L EXAN D E R L OB R ANO ; p h o t o c o u r t e s y o f l e s c av e s ta i ll e v e n t

GOOD DEALS


Nouveautés

WATER MARKS

What’s in store

Paul Smith taps into consumers’ infatuation with designer H2O in his latest project for Evian. The British fashion guru has given the company’s WATER BOTTLES a stylish makeover featuring his signature stripes. Evoking colorful ripples, they’re as fresh as a glass of cool water. $13.95; shopevian.com.

BACK TO THE GARDEN

STERLING QUALITIES

GOODIE BAGS After becoming a leading brand in Asia, Louis Quatorze is returning to its French roots. The leather-maker has opened a Paris boutique and issued its first Fall/Winter HANDBAG collection. Named for the Sun King’s most illustrious mistresses—Madame de Maintenon, Madame de la Vallière and Madame de Montespan—the bags range from classic cuir to an edgy mélange of prints and pixels. About €300; louisquatorzeparis.fr.

18

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

Adeline Cacheux’s new JEWELRY collection for Christofle deserves a gold medal for elegance. The designer’s highly covetable creations— gleaming necklaces, earrings and a cuff bracelet—are très chic indeed; their overlapping sterling silver disks are both modern and timeless. $440 to $2,850; christofle.com.

p h o t o c o u r t e s y o f N i c o l a s D a n i l a ; e v i a n ; e y e d o m . c o m ; CH R ISTO F L E S i lv e r , I n c .

The genie gave Aladdin three wishes, but Les Jardins d’Aladin gives you twice as many choices. This new PERFUME brand offers natural, allergenfree fragrances that conjure up seven mythical gardens—each with its own characteristic flowers, spices and fruits. All of the scents (with names such as Les Jardins Asiatiques and Les Jardins Amazoniens) come in colorful flacons whose sculpted surfaces were inspired by the luxuriant vegetation of a Rousseau painting. €177; nicolasdanila.com.


BREAKFAST CLUB Need a kitchen upgrade? Whether your counters are marble or melamine, France’s Elium Studio will help turn your cuisine into a showplace. Its Silver Art line for Rowenta features sleek, streamlined APPLIANCES—a coffee maker, kettle, espresso machine, toaster and juicer—in shiny chrome with wood accents. Available in Europe from €79.49; rowenta.com.

PACKAGE DEALS When Ladurée supplies the sweets and Marni provides the packaging, the results can only be described as delicious. Launched in December and available for a limited time, the pâtisserie’s chocolate MACARONS— adorned in gold leaf—are being sold in adorable boxes featuring the Italian luxury brand’s trademark polka dots and flower. It’s the ultimate mini-splurge. €14.70 to €52.70; laduree.fr.

D u e n d e S t u d i o ; l a d u r é e ; At e l i e r L Z C ; D R . MA R TENS ; a Ï ta l i

WHAT’S UP, DOC? Jean-Paul Gaultier has taken Dr. Martens BOOTS and kicked them up a notch. The couturier teamed up with the footwear brand for this year’s Winter collection, turning the classic eighteye boot into a 14-eye showstopper and adding peek-a-boo cutouts. Made for walking indeed! €300; drmartens.com.

PRACTICAL MAGIC It’s easy to imagine Atelier LZC’s “Jardins magiques” SCREENS in a child’s room, but these fanciful new creations would add a touch of enchantment to any décor. Distant relatives of traditional Japanese byobu, they are screen-printed entirely by hand and come in aqua or purple. €1,360; atelierlzc.fr.

DESTINATION DIVA

One of Paris’s hottest new shopping destinations is the Galerie de l’Opéra de Paris—a concept store just opened by Galeries Lafayette at the Opéra Garnier. This stylish boutique features such brands as Repetto, Bonpoint, Eric Bompard and Bensimon, as well as accessories by Margot Selby, handbags by Petunia Pickle and Aïtali’s specially commissioned “Opéra de Paris” chair (right). No need to leave the kids at the hotel—a space called Enfance de l’Art offers toys, costumes and educational games. And in honor of the location, a multimedia bookstore showcases the arts. Open daily; 8 rue Scribe, Paris 8e. F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

19


Délices & Saveurs

T

ideas for weeknight suppers and sensational seasonal dishes by Renée Schettler

There are as many reasons to turn to cookbooks as there are home cooks. For some, it’s the rather mundane matter of putting supper on the table. For others, the objectives are more ambitious, such as re-creating a wonderful dish enjoyed long ago at a petit resto on the Left Bank. A duo of French offerings recently R etro R edux

translated into English reflects this range; one counsels novice cooks, the other illuminates a starred chef ’s nature-driven thinking. Despite their drastically different approaches, each relies in large measure on two characteristically French traits: simplicity and resourcefulness.

20

F r a n c e • w i n t e r 2 0 0 9 -1 0

In 1932 , a 25 -year-old home-ec teacher named Ginette Mathiot amassed some 2,000 classic, everyday French recipes into a manuscript and published it under the title Je sais cuisiner. The book’s no-nonsense approach was ref lected in its black-andwhite cover and page after photograph-less page of ingredients and instructions. It was a hit. Since the 1930s, I n t he ne a rly • I Know How to Cook has eight decades since, been teaching fledgling Mathiot’s book has cuisinières to make such classic French recipes s old mor e t h a n as Tarte Tatin. six million copies. Finally, it has been translated into English. Within weeks of its release last fall, I Know How to Cook Cook (Phaidon, $45) was hailed as “bold and authoritative” by The New York Times and likened by others to Italy’s

best-selling The Silver Spoon and America’s beloved Joy of Cooking. Weighing in at more than f ive pounds, 976 pages and 1,400 recipes, it is a “truly voluminous volume,” says the Guardian, one that “avoids all the lifestyle guff and focuses on the matter in hand: cooking.” A team of editors headed by Clotilde Dusoulier, the Paris-based blogger behind the award-winning Chocolate & Zucchini site, worked to make the English edition true to the original spirit yet accessible to an American audience. Dusoulier explains that over the years, the French edition had undergone several slight revisions. “We edited out a few recipes that seemed to have been added in the ’60s,” she says. “One that stands out is a mushroom and banana salad. It just wasn’t right.” They also tweaked many of the remaining recipes, given that today’s palate tends to prefer vegetables and fish cooked a little less severely and with a bit less cream and butter than in the 1930s. The difference between this and the magnificent classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Dusoulier says, is that Julia Child was trying to translate the vagaries of culinary school and professional cooking into recipes suited for the home cook while Mathiot was simply teaching French home cooking to home cooks. Her recipes include basic and regional fare such as crêpes, daube of beef, duck à l’orange, Alsatian choucroute, no fewer than 30 takes on potatoes, jams galore and—truly a testament to the book as home-ec lesson—a dozen uses for liver. There is also a glossary of cooking terms, descriptions of various herbs and spices, suggestions for seasonal dishes, even advice on serving food and cleaning up after the meal. Little wonder this hefty tome has long been a popular gift for new brides. The English edition is much less austere than the original French version, embellished with whimsically retro illustrations and photographs that inspire “I-can-do-that” thinking. But it is the way the book lays the groundwork for aspiring cuisinières who are willing to learn as they cook, not necessarily as they read, that made it such a hit in France and that will likely endear it to

photo courtesy of ph aid on

Kitchen Aids


English-speaking cooks as well. “When you start with the more accessible recipes then make your way to the more complicated ones, you really learn how to cook,” says Phaidon’s editorial director Emilia Terragni. “Some French cuisine may be complicated, but home cooking can be simple.”

©scope /J. Guill ard

Provençal Poetry

Just when Americans began to grasp the wisdom of eating in sync with the seasons, along comes a French chef from Provence telling us there are not four seasons but six. Edouard Loubet, known for his ability to distill the region’s f lowers, herbs and vegetables into ethereal infusions, gastriques and essences, poetica lly explains his interpretation of the calendar year in Six Seasons in the Luberon (Glénat, €45). “Four seasons simply are not sufficient to capture the opulence of nature here,” he says. For him, there are two springs: One when the valley’s almond, cherry, apple, quince and pear trees burst into bloom, followed by a second when thyme, rosemary, savory and other herbs f lower. There are also two distinct falls: the first marked by the appearance of pumpkins and squash, and a second that is all about ripe grapes and game, mushrooms and truffles. Author Eve-Marie Zizza-Lalu recounts that in every season, Loubet knows how to recognize nature’s ephemeral gifts; where most of us would see nothing edible, his expert eye sees herbs and plants with the potential for new taste experiences. Tender young wheat shoots, for example, become still hungry? the impetus for a Additional reviews of mimosa-f lavored recently released cook- cream egg dipped books are available on in white chocolate francemagazine.org. and set in a pool of delicate green wheat juice. It is a dish he can offer patrons only a few days of the year. Loubet began deciphering the secrets of the Provençal landscape when he arrived here from Savoie at age 22. Having trained with Alain Chapel and Marc Veyrat, who taught him to recognize and cook with Alpine herbs, he struck out on his own at the Moulin de Lourmarin. At 25, he became the youngest chef in France to earn a Michelin star, and by 28 , he claimed a second. Now 40, he is ensconced at La Bastide de

Capelongue, a dreamy hotel and restaurant hidden away on a hilltop overlooking the perched village of Bonnieux. • Edouard Loubet shares his intimate knowledge of Provençal W hereas Loubet’s f irst seasons in his latest book, which draws on local produce to create cookbook focused on recipes, dishes such as “Steamed John Dory with mint, marinated in olive oil, swelled oat flakes and crunchy vegetables, iced courgette soup.” this one celebrates the elements that give rise to them. “Nature and local suppliers—of fish, meat, fruits, the purée—four ingredients transformed in vegetables and so on—are the true allies of three sentences—to elevate Tuesday night chefs,” he says. Although technically a cook- dinner to great effect. Loubet assumes a certain level of expertise book, it is perhaps more accurately described as a fairy tale of the highest order for foodies. from readers willing to indulge his flights Zizza-Lalu’s seasonal essays chronicle Lou- of fancy, yet unlike many chefs’ recipes, his bet’s wanderings through the idyllic Lubéron, are largely doable and a marvel of efficiency. describing how he gathers ingredients from Indeed, few require anything beyond the his gardens and the surrounding countryside means of the average kitchen and seasonal and bakes bread every morning as meditation. farmers’ markets. Although the English translation is a She also profiles a cast of local characters: Milou, “the last of the peasants”; Gianni, the bit rough in spots—it sometimes lends a flamboyant goatherd; Vincente, the elegant preciousness that isn’t in the original—the and almost octogenarian mushroom forager. recipes are clear and the text effectively The story seems no less fictional, given the conjures up the intoxicating scents, sounds enchanting photography of Jacques Guillard and colors of this storied corner of Southern and Jean-Marc Favre—or, for that matter, France. Ultimately, whether American the 60 chimerical recipes that make up the readers experience a happy ending depends balance of the book. very little on technical savvy or access to Each is a carefully composed meal, gently Provençal ingredients and a lot on whether deconstructed into its constituent parts. A Loubet’s passion and creativity inspire them slow-roasted suckling pig shoulder with star to look at their own seasonal bounty with anise and a cinnamon-infused butternut fresh enthusiasm. squash purée actually appears as five short The English edition is available at La Bastide recipes on the same page. No ordinary meal, de Capelongue, through capelongue.com and at although a home cook could easily tease out specialty stores in Paris. F r a n c e • w i n t e r 2 0 0 9 -1 0

21


Art de Vivre

Toy Stories finger puppets, fair trade and fantasy

• A selection of classic blabla and Boogaloo dolls (above) and an “Octavio” bird rattle (right).

In 2001, American Susan Pritchett and Bordeaux native Florence Wetterwald founded a children’s label based on values emblematic of the new millennium: environmental awareness, a commitment to fair trade and an openness to international collaboration and exchange. Pretty serious stuff for a company called blabla. The idea originated during a trip to South America. At the time, Pritchett and Wetterwald, close friends who met while working at an Atlanta design studio, had been casting about for a creative business venture. They found it in Peru’s small rural villages, where master knitters still practice skills handed down through generations, fashioning sweaters, ponchos, cardigans and other items. Letting nothing go to waste, they use the leftover wool to make finger puppets. Inspired by these miniature works of folk art, Pritchett and Wetterwald immediately hired knitters to produce their own designs. The resulting finger puppets 22

F r a n c e • w i n t e r 2 0 0 9 -1 0

were so charming that they were soon featured in the Sundance Catalog; before long, the fledgling company had branched out into clothing and dolls, and in 2007, it opened a store in midtown Atlanta. With Wetterwald handling design and Pritchett overseeing marketing, blabla now also makes soft and cheerful rattles, blankets, mobiles and backpacks, working with more than 150 Peruvian artisans and selling its products in 34 countries. The company continues to honor the ethical principles upon which it was founded, engaging in environmentally friendly fair-trade practices and commissioning rigorous third-party testing of all fabric dyes, stuffing and small parts. Yet while it has been ahead of the curve in these areas, its real advantage is Wetterwald’s distinctive and endearing designs. Adults and children alike are seduced by such adorable items as a giraffe rattle with a tiny bird on its back, colorful tasseled hats with a

finger-puppet pocket and Bubbles, the turquoise polka-dotted cat. All are knitted in super-soft Pima cotton. In 2009, blabla received a Platinum Award from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, an independent consumer organization. Cofounder Stephanie Oppenheim explained her enthusiasm for the toys on her blog: “Rarely do we get products that are so fresh looking—yet have a very retro, pleasingly familiar feel to them. There are dolls that will appeal to both boys and girls—they are all knitted—and each character has tons of personality! They have that extra dose of whimsy that makes this an outstanding collection.” An accomplished artist whose drawings have been exhibited at the Pompidou Center in Paris, Wetterwald attributes her creative vision to her upbringing. Her father’s side of the family, which operates a venerable wine-label printing company, is steeped in Bordeaux tradition, while her free-spirited, globe-trotting mother collects modern art and founded a knitwear atelier in Paris—hence Wetterwald’s aff inity for yarn. “In my designs, I think about quality and timelessness, but I’m also quite open-minded—I don’t think there is one right way or wrong way to do things,” she observes. “The main thing is to create something that is tender and poetic, that touches children and makes them smile.” She admits that her ultimate dream is to go down in toy design history. “I would love it if people would one day say, ‘Remember

photo courtesy of bl a bl a

by Tracy Kendrick


the blabla dolls we used to carry around?’” This desire to be in tune with the times informs Wetterwald’s creative process. “There is a research period, when I look at art books and design books, at magazines and blogs and Web sites, and I just fill myself with ideas,” she explains. “Also, when I travel, I always write little notes and take pictures, compiling a sort of image bank. Then I focus on the ones that come up a lot, what I feel is in the air.” She also draws liberally on her French heritage. “I was raised in an old, old château. There was no TV, and I was surrounded by books. I was really fascinated by Grandville’s Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux and La Fontaine’s Fables, illustrated by Doré. I loved all those animals speaking and acting like humans.” Cue McNuttie the Squirrel in his windowpaneplaid pants. To take a McNuttie from concept to cuddly toy, Wetterwald provides the knitters in Peru with drawings and color swatches from the blabla palette. “Because I’ve been working with the same people for eight years, we’re really in sync,” she remarks. “In the beginning, drawings had to be very precise, with technical knitting specs.

naturally fun Additional children’s labels that combine French design with fair trade and an eco-friendly ethos:

LA Q UEUE D U CHAT; PAP I L I

• La Queue du Chat produces certified fair-trade organic cotton apparel in India for children up to age six. With its sophisticated lines, attention to detail—think patterned linings peeking out from under solid skirts— and whimsical, big-eyed animal graphics, the clothing offers just the right blend of fashion and fun to appeal to both parents and kids. Babywear available in the U.S. through comptoirdenfance.com; see laqueueduchat. com for more online retailers. • Papili was founded by a mother seeking to give her children • La doudous Queue that had not du Chat been mass-

Now, there are times when I don’t even indicate which stitches to use where, and they still know exactly what I want.” The geographic and cu lt u ra l d iv ide is not without its challenges, however. It takes a good six months of back and forth via email, followed by face-to-face collaboration in Peru, to create the prototypes for the two seasonal lines, typically about 10 new products. • Wetterwald’s drawings are the first step in the creation of new blabla Once the knitting pat- characters such as the jaunty McNuttie the Squirrel. terns have been set, aesthetics come into play, and that is where Sweden, I love the Baltics—so I tend to go differences arise. “Results from the first for lines that are softer. Sometimes, I do three or four trials are never what you have a design and it comes back with an Incan in mind,” Wetterwald says. “It’s funny feel to it, so I have to rework it—but I’m actually, the way different cultures interpret used to that,” she laughs. How is it then that blabla toys are things differently—something that means one thing to us often means something embraced by children around the world? totally different to them. Also, because “Every country has its own sensitivities,” says of their particular ideas of beauty, their Wetterwald. “In Asia, we sell more of the lines are much more severe, much stronger. Bugaloos—they are our latest dolls, and they My references are more northern—I love are a little bit more graphic, more cartoonoriented. Our classic blabla dolls appeal more to the American market, which is a little more traditional. Europeans buy both.” The company is already preparing the produced under circumstances of next chapter of its international toy story. dubious ethicality—perhaps even “I’m doing a lot of research right now with by other children. Its stuffed toys illustrators,” says Wetterwald. “We’d like to (right), made with certified fair-trade have a book for each doll—what she does, organic cotton harvested in Central what she likes and doesn’t like. We think the and West Africa, are simple yet kids would really benefit from that.” She cites distinctive, with an unapologetically handmade quality. Designs range from soft a few of the back stories: “There’s Mozart, cubes to dolls to the “Ecolumidoux,” a bunny who’s a monkey; you’d think he’d be a great that glows in the dark. Available through musician, but instead he just can’t play. And amazon.fr; papili.org. Sandwich [a cat] loves to eat, but he also loves • Cocobohème creates clever home accesto read, and he can never make up his mind sories in sustainable, innovative materials. what to do first, so he does both at the same The company is based in a working-class time. The doll Lulu is a flower, and flowers Paris neighborhood and partners with French are supposed to be pretty, but she’s always manufacturers and artisans. At home in the kitchen and playroom alike, its chalkboard wall got a petal on her head, and she’s always late, stickers come in various animal shapes, from she’s always tripping over things.” pigs to penguins. Unlike the vinyl stickers so Wetterwald’s dolls are like all of us— popular in recent years, these are made of a they are imperfect, they have little quirks, biopolymer derived from potato starch and are they are fragile. “When I look at what we compostable. Stylish waterproof bibs in the do at blabla, it’s very human,” she says. “I same material last two years. Available in the guess that’s the beauty of it.” U.S. through zoebonline.com; see cocoboheme. com for more online retailers.

blabla, 1189 Virginia Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA, 30306; Tel. 404/875-6496; blablakids.com. F r a n c e • w i n t e r 2 0 0 9 -1 0

23


The Late Years

A new exhibit explores why art aficionados lost their taste for Renoir— and why they should reconsider. By S ara Ro mano “Girl in Red Ruff” (1896)

24

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0


Pie r r e - A u g u s t e R e noi r ( 1 8 4 1 - 1 9 1 9 ) i s still

celebrated for masterpieces such as “Luncheon of the Boating Party” (1881), the jewel of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. His later works, however, have fared less well with tastemakers. Substandard reproductions on chocolate boxes, coasters and posters have not helped, nor has the global shift in aesthetic taste. Now, “Renoir in the 20th Century”—which opened this past October at Paris’s Grand Palais and is traveling to Los Angeles and Philadelphia in 2010—strives to rehabilitate those later years, giving the out-of-favor Renoirs a second chance and displaying some lesserknown works, such as decorative paintings, drawings and sculpture. Through this exhibition, which juxtaposes Renoirs with canvases by his younger contemporaries, curators endeavor to show that the later works were, in fact, cornerstones of modern art, collected, revered and emulated by the likes of Matisse and Picasso. “We’re proposing a new approach to that period, showing its importance and influence,” says Sylvie Patry of Paris’s Musée d’Orsay. One of the show’s four curators, she explains that Renoir is, along with Monet, the Impressionist painter whose life extended farthest into the 20th century, overlapping with new generations of artists. The late works “are not what people like the most about Renoir,” she concedes. “The artist is to some extent responsible for this disaffection: He let a lot of canvases that were, in fact, barely completed sketches slip out into the marketplace.” In recent decades, critics have dismissed even his more finished works as facile crowd-pleasers. When Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts staged a Renoir retrospective in 1985, New York Times critic John Russell labeled the artist “a difficult and a contradictory case” whose popularity “persists, regardless of both the vertiginous ups and downs in the quality of his output and the reticence of curators, historians and critics.” 26

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

Above: Renoir painting in front of the Maison de la Poste in Cagnes (c. 1912-14). previous page: Tired of Impressionism, Renoir turned to the Old Masters as a new source of inspiration. He painted “Girl in a Red Ruff” after a visit to The Hague; the colorful ruff references 16th- and 17th-century Dutch portraits, particularly works by Rubens and Frans Hals.

This was how he explained Renoir’s enduring mass appeal: “The case for Renoir, the people’s friend, can be put quite simply,” he wrote. “He sets before us a lost paradise that is persuasive in terms of everyday life. In that paradise, everyone is having a good time in ways that should not be beyond our reach. The juices of life flow thick, and full, and warm. Young women are plump and comely, and not at all self-conscious about letting us know it. Young men are strong, clean and chivalrous. All children are adorable, and even the household chores look fun. The sun shines, we never see an ugly thing anywhere, and even people who have never had much money are prettily turned out.” Critical distaste for 20th-century Renoirs may have another, more mundane explanation: Corpulent nudes with love handles and bulging bosoms are simply no longer in fashion, at least not with arbiters of taste. “People today don’t like very fat ladies,” explains London-based curator Ann Dumas, co-author of Renoir Women, published in 2005. “Those big pneumatic pink ladies aren’t everybody’s favorite subject.” The exhibition opens with a pictorial biography

of the aging Renoir and his expanding tribe. We meet key family members, friends and models, and discover—through paintings but also fascinating photographs, mementos and archives— the painter-patriarch’s rich environment.


two girls reading (c. 1890-1891)

marthe denis (1904)

In the early 1890s, Renoir’s scenes of sweet, elegant young girls contributed greatly to his commercial success. They are reminiscent of the genre paintings of Boucher, Fragonard and Watteau—part of Renoir’s effort to develop a new pictorial style rooted in the work of earlier masters.

Artist Maurice Denis was an early admirer of Renoir and asked him to paint this portrait of his wife. Renoir’s bold composition—the slightly off-center Marthe is depicted from behind and in profile, like a sculpture—is balanced by the elegance and beauty of its subject and the intimacy of the portrait.

The next rooms are contextual: They aim to situate Renoir stylistically before his turn-of-the-century shifts. Two large paintings conceived as pendants to adorn an elegant salon reflect Renoir’s first moves away from Impressionist tenets toward a more decorative style. Each depicts a dancing couple, and both are dated 1882. “Country Dance” uses as its model the woman who became Renoir’s wife eight years later: a curvy seamstress named Aline Charigot. She is shown here waltzing with her blacksuited partner, cheeks aflame, the ruffle of her print dress moving with her. A crumpled tablecloth in the background suggests a just-finished outdoor meal. In the accompanying “City Dance,” a fancy and much more serious couple is shown indoors, with plants and a marble wall serving as backdrops. The unsmiling woman has a small flower in her ash-blond hair and wears elbow-length white satin gloves. The back of her long white gown is a cascade of sumptuous folds and crinkles. This is Renoir at his best, applying his Impressionist touch to human figures. Here as elsewhere in the exhibition, derivative works by modern masters hang nearby to underscore Renoir’s contemporary relevance. We see Picasso’s réplique, “Village Dance” (1922), a coarsely rendered couple dancing against a stark grey background. The woman wears a flaming-red hat that might be a reference to Aline’s bonnet in Renoir’s outdoor scene.

The years that immediately follow mark a turning point in Renoir’s style: He enters his so-called Ingresque period, where figures are very clearly drawn in dark, dry lines rather than suggested in a profusion of dotted color. While these experimentations, which stop around 1885, are not displayed in the exhibition, there are traces of them in his later style. “Around 1883, it was as if a crack appeared in my work,” he later explained. “I had gone as far as I could with Impressionism and had arrived at the conclusion that I did not know how to either paint or draw.” In 1892, the French state commissioned its first Renoir, displayed here. The large “Two Young Girls at the Piano” (1892, now in the Musée d’Orsay) shows two pre-teenage girls with long ponytails, one sitting and the other standing at an upright piano. The painting is soft and uses the cloudy tones of Impressionism to depict a scene in the everyday life of the 19th-century bourgeoisie. Renoir produced a great many other commissioned portraits, offering the Parisian bourgeoisie a chance to be immortalized by a master. The 1897 “Yvonne and Christine Lerolle at the Piano,” showing the daughters of the painter and art collector Henri Lerolle, is executed in a style that owes much to the Ingresque period. The young women’s hair and features are darkly delineated, and the palette is dominated by glowing reds and blacks. The same is true of his 1903 portrait of the pianist and artist’s muse Misia Sert, modeled after Ingres’s famous “Madame Moitessier.” It has a stern, stilted quality. Franc e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

27


CLaude and renĂŠe (1903)

Delighted to find himself again a father at age 60, Renoir began a series of family portraits that are among his most tender, personal works. This rendering of his youngest son, posed rather formally in the arms of his nanny, conjures up a medieval Madonna and Child. The painting’s sculptural quality derives from the rounded forms, neutral background and earth-colored tones.


The Master’s Influence

20th-century works inspired by renoir

One of the distinguishing features of Renoir’s late nudes, including “Seated Nude” (1914), was their monumental scale; one art critic said they suggested “the feminine nature rather than femininity.” Pablo Picasso’s “Large Bather” (1921) similarly dominates its canvas.

Conceived as an element of interior décor, the large-format “Country Dance” (1883) illustrates Renoir’s break with Impressionism and is typical of the happy scenes depicted by the master. The much darker Picasso treated this same subject in “The Village Dance” (1922), infusing it with an atypical calm.

Renoir explored Orientalist themes at several points in his life. Inspired by his travels to North Africa, works such as “Nude on Cushions” (1907) clearly paid tribute to Ingres and Delacroix. Renoir often had his models pose in front of colorful textiles, a technique later adopted by Matisse in such paintings as “Two Models Resting” (1928).

While the subjects of these paintings might seem banal, they are all the two nudes have nothing conventional about them. They seem in fact artistic experimentations reflecting Renoir’s attempts to elabo- divorced from their surroundings, like ageless abstractions. rate a new pictorial style. “It is very difficult for me to stop just feeling “Here, we see Renoir breaking with all the traditional rules, even my way,” he says in 1891. “I reached the age of 50 four days ago, of perspective,” says Patry. “We are outside of space and time, in a which is a little old to be still seeking. Anyway, I do what I can.” completely recreated universe.” To Patry, these bathers fit right into The best portraits are the ones he does of his entourage. We the wave of nude painting started around 1910, with Cézanne, Pisense the coziness and warmth that he feels living among his loved casso (“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” 1907) and Matisse (“Dance,” ones, and his colors have the softness of mohair. His baby son is 1910). Except that Renoir’s nudes are fleshy and voluptuous, not painted endearingly with a maid in the 1903 “Claude and Renée,” austere and angular. They will become inspirations for the later wearing a ruffled cotton bonnet over his blond bangs and a long works of Picasso and Matisse. white nightdress. His cheeks are bright pink, and his pudgy hand As if to underscore the point, a Renoir-inspired Matisse is included pushes against his nanny’s chest. in the exhibition: “Two Models Resting” (1928) shows a pair of reThe climax of Renoir’s late period, and of the exhibition, are the clining odalisques in a harem-like interior; the theme was one that nudes that he obsessively paints from 1890 onward and that account Renoir had explored decades earlier after traveling to North Africa. for his extraordinary popularity with the next generation of artists. There are a dozen in the “I’m starting to know how to paint. show: fleshy ingenues with long, flowing hair, It has taken me 50 years’ work to get this far, and it’s soft bellies and pert breasts; they are shown not finished yet.” —Pierre Auguste Renoir bathing, toweling or striking poses that hark back to Titian, Ingres and others and posiMatisse, who moved to Nice in 1917, became a regular visitor tioning Renoir as a modern Old Master. Indeed, these were luscious laboratory experiments for the old man. As he says himself in to Renoir’s home in Cagnes-sur-Mer. He admired Renoir and once 1913, “I’m starting to know how to paint. It has taken me 50 years’ showed the master his paintings. The scene was recorded by Picaswork to get this far, and it’s not finished yet.” so’s lover Françoise Gilot in Life with Picasso. Renoir was about to The culmination of these nudes is “The Bathers” (1918-1919), be completely disapproving of what he saw, then stopped himself one of the last works he ever did, a monumental manifesto by an because of Matisse’s ability to apply black to a canvas without makinvalid in his late seventies. Two roly-poly nudes lie practically on ing it look like a hole of non-color. “You put on black and you top of each other in a hallucinatory explosion of color, engaging in make it stick,” he told the much younger Matisse. “So even though a sun-drenched reverie, as three woman bathers splash around in I don’t like at all what you do, and my inclination would be to tell the distance. With their outsized limbs and exaggerated physicality, you you’re a bad painter, I suppose you are a painter after all.” Franc e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

29


Les Collettes

Renoir spent his final years at Les Collettes amid ancient olive trees, orange groves, artist friends and fleshy young village girls who were happy to pose for him. left to right: Renoir with his wife and son Claude; the Renoirs’ spacious villa; the painter’s light-filled studio.

Renoir ’s Rivie ra Re tre at Every year, hundreds of thousands of art-loving pilgrims pour into Monet’s home at Giverny, admiring the water lilies in the pond and the yellow crockery in the dining room. Few are aware that, tucked away in the hills of the Côte d’Azur, is an artist’s home that is every bit as fascinating: Les Collettes, where PierreAuguste Renoir spent the last 11 years of his life. The grand one-story villa in Cagnes-sur-Mer features a spacious atelier, bedrooms for all five family members and a succession of guestrooms and maids’ rooms. Olives, grapes and tangerines once grew in abundance, and hens squawked merrily around the grounds. Here, the gruff and big-hearted Renoir received a constant flow of visitors: art dealers Paul Durand-Ruel and Ambroise Vollard, painters Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, and many others. Guests were looked after by the matronly Madame Renoir, who had once been her husband’s model. She would whip up a bouillabaisse, a coq au vin or a poulet sauté to feed travelers exhausted by the 15hour train ride from Paris. The Renoir villa is about to get its first facelift in half a century. Soon, €2.5 million will be spent refurbishing the house, the farmhouse next to it (now the museum shop) and the surrounding domain. The last renovation was in 1960, when the villa was purchased from Renoir’s son Claude by the city of Cagnes-sur-Mer. “The stonework is very damaged, the paint has faded, and the place really needs freshening up,” says Virginie Journiac, chief curator of the museums of Cagnes-surMer. “But we will remain faithful to the original spirit.” As part of the revamp, the living room and dining room will be decorated with wall coverings re-created from period fabric samples, and the garden will be replanted with the same vegetables and herbs that Madame Renoir grew in her potager. On a more practical note, there will be handicap access, and a new shuttle service will bring day trippers over from the popular medieval fortifications of Cagnes-sur-Mer. Journiac hopes that all of these initiatives will help boost annual visitor numbers from 40,000 to 80,000. Work is slated to begin at the end of 2010, but Journiac says that throughout the process, they will keep at least part of the estate open to visitors. Among the most delightful features of Les Collettes (which means “little hills”) are the olive trees. Each is at least a hundred years old, and all have

30

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

bushy branches and thick trunks twisted into exotic contortions. They alone are worth the trip. A stroll through the olive grove, with crickets chirping in the background, gives a delicious taste of what the Côte d’Azur was like before property developers moved in. Inside the house, visitors can tour the Renoirs’ adjoining bedrooms, picture the artist sitting at the head of the classy Napoleon III dining table and admire the 11 original Renoirs hanging on the walls. There are also many works by Albert André, a painter friend who gave his name to one of the guestrooms;

tops of Cagnes and the orange groves, whose blossoms were used for perfume extraction in Grasse. Renoir loved to observe the comings and goings at the post office. He would happily have stayed if it weren’t for news that a much-admired olive grove in Les Collettes was about to be turned into a carnation field. Madame Renoir, who was tired of being constantly on the move—and who, according to her youngest son, Claude, was keen to keep up with another painter and his wife who were building a villa in the area—persuaded her reluctant husband to

“If you let yourself go, you get the feeling that Renoir is still there, and that you are suddenly going to hear him humming as he studies his canvas. He is part of the landscape.” —Jean Renoir together his canvases provide a visual chronicle of the goings-on at the house. As in any great artist’s home, the atelier is the most riveting space of all. In the center of this highceilinged room is a powerful evocation of the elderly master: the large wooden wheelchair that a tearful Madame Renoir ordered from Nice when her husband could no longer walk. Against a large yellow fireplace is a single bed, draped with an old carpet, where the fleshy young village girls of Cagnes took time off from household duties to recline before the painter’s sharp eyes. Inside an open wooden box are his paintbrushes, dried-up tubes of paint last used nine decades ago and strips of felt for wiping off the brushes. You can easily picture the painter sitting at his easel in a cap and buttoned-up jacket, fingers gnarled from arthritis, applying colors. Along the back wall are the wide shelves where Renoir’s canvases were once stocked before they were scattered to private collections and museums around the world.

Renoir fell in love with Cagnes when he arrived there in the 1890s, seeking relief from arthritic pain in the Mediterranean sun. Within a few years, the Renoirs were spending every winter in Cagnes and every summer in Essoyes, birthplace of Madame Renoir. At first, they lived on the first floor of the Maison de la Poste, a cozy space overlooking the roof-

purchase the land. “He did not find it all that amusing,” remembers son Jean (the filmmaker) in his biography Renoir, My Father. “Finished now were the animation around the Post Office, the scandal of the gossip, the greetings of those who came to buy stamps.” Madame Renoir re-created a mini-village around her husband who, notwithstanding his forbidding manner, loved to have people visit. She hired local girls to help pick olives and orange blossoms and mill around the estate. Soon, the girls were doubling as studio models and popping up in the canvases painted at Cagnes. World War I and the injury of sons Pierre and Jean in battle put a brutal end to the happy days at Les Collettes. Madame Renoir, who had rushed to the side of both of her sons and saved Jean from amputation, died in 1915. Les Collettes never recovered. “It was as if people, trees, everything, mourned my mother,” recalls Jean. Renoir buried himself in his work. “The more intolerable his suffering became, the more Renoir painted,” writes Jean. His last picture was of a bouquet of anemones brought to him by a kind maid; he died that night. —SR Musée Renoir, Chemin des Collettes, Cagnessur-Mer; Tel. 33/4-93-20-61-07. For hours and other information, go to frenchriviera-tourism.com, select your preferred language and enter “Musée Renoir” in the search box.


terraces in cagnes (c. 1905-1906)

Before moving to Les Collettes, Renoir and his family lived in an apartment in Cagnes’s Maison de la Poste, visible on the far right. Delighted by the lush Mediterranean landscape, Renoir portrayed the region as a sort of timeless, sensual Arcadia, his way of rejecting the modern world and reconnecting with a vanished classicism.

Renoir was born in Limoges

in 1841, the sixth of seven children of a tailor and a seamstress. His family moved to Paris when he was three, and he soon began showing a taste and a gift for drawing. At age 13, he apprenticed with a porcelain painter; a few samples of those adolescent yet elegant works still survive. Until 1860, Renoir painted fans, screens and cupboards. Yet the young man longed to give up his craft for art. That year, he started copying paintings in the Louvre, and the following year, he became a regular presence in the workshop of painter Charles Gleyre, where he made the acquaintance of other budding artists: Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley. Together, they scorned the official artists of the moment—Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexandre Cabanel— and instead admired Delacroix, Ingres and Courbet. In 1864, Renoir was admitted for the first time to the official Salon with his painting “Esmeralda,” inspired by Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris—a work that Renoir later said he destroyed. Yet recognition came only intermittently; subsequent works were by turns accepted and rejected. One submission that didn’t make the cut was his 1867 “Diana the Huntress,” which he had painted

in an academic style that should logically have pleased the judges. Monet and Bazille were also rejected that year. The three became roommates when the impoverished Renoir and Monet moved into Bazille’s studio on the rue Visconti in Paris. Monet began to influence Renoir’s work and would continue to do so for years to come. One example: “Lise with a Parasol” (1867), a portrait of Renoir’s then-lover, Lise Trehot, a dark-haired woman shown wearing a black sash over her billowing white gown. Monet’s influence can be seen in subject matter, style and palette; as Emile Zola remarked, “This Lise seems to be the sister of Claude Monet’s “Camille”… it is one of our women, or rather one of our mistresses, painted with great truth and a good exploration of modernity.” The painting won him critical success at the Salon of 1868, despite the barbs of one reviewer, who described it as a “chunky piece of cheese.” (Renoir, it was recently discovered, had an illegitimate daughter with Trehot whom he secretly supported financially throughout his life.) After a break from painting in 1870-71, when he served in the Tenth Cavalry Regiment during the Franco-Prussian War, Renoir joined the First Impressionist Exhibition in 1874, led by his friend Monet and held at 35 boulevard des Capucines. He showed some smaller-format canvases—including his “Theater Box” (1874), now the pride of London’s Courtauld Institute—that were done in a light Franc e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

31


head Of a young girl (c. 1890), La toilette (woman combing her hair) (c. 1907-1908)

Nearly two decades elapsed between these paintings, whose similar subject matter affords an opportunity to observe the artist’s stylistic evolution. In the later work, Renoir shows a woman engaged in an everyday activity rather than simply posing, thus infusing the painting with a new energy. His colors have also become more lush, and black is once again an important part of his palette.

and luminous style not unlike Monet’s. While he escaped critical lashing that year, he was attacked two years later, during the Second Impressionist Exhibition, for his study “Nude in the Sunlight” (1875); Le Figaro’s reviewer described the topless, sunlit figure as a “heap of decomposing flesh.” It was at the Third Impressionist Exhibition in 1876 that Renoir produced his best-known work: “Ball at the Moulin de la Galette.” It showed an open-air dance hall in Montmartre, where he lived at the time. A dizzying masterpiece of light and shadow, crowded with Panama hats and patterned petticoats, the work now hangs in the Musée d’Orsay. It won mixed reviews when first exhibited; admirers

In the mid-1880s, Renoir decided to turn his back on the lessons of Impressionism altogether. After a series of trips to Italy (where he admired Raphael) and North Africa (in the footsteps of Delacroix), he adopted a style that was more outwardly figurative. The nudes in his 1887 “Bathers,” now in Philadelphia’s collection, are so carefully drawn they seem to be outlined with color pencil. In 1890, Renoir married Aline, a peasant woman from Essoyes in the Champagne region with whom he had a five-year-old son, Pierre. She later gave birth to another child, Jean, and then finally Claude, an unplanned baby who brought infinite joy to his 60-year-old father and is painted adoringly as a long-haired toddler. By the turn of the century, Renoir was an established painter represented in the state collections, and Unable to walk and partially crippled by rheumatoid critics’ qualms were dispelled. He was appreciated at arthritis, Renoir spent his final years painting against all home as well as abroad, in no small measure thanks to odds. His popularity, however, was at an all-time high. the efforts of his dealer Durand-Ruel, who bolstered demand for him among collectors in the U.S. Renoir saw a rainbow glistening within it, while Impressionism’s adversaries was also granted the Legion of Honor that year. Cruelly, it was then complained that the figures seemed to defy the laws of perspective, that his health began to fail. dancing on a ground that resembled a bunch of purple storm clouds. Painful bouts of rheumatism led him to seek gentler climes, By the late 1870s, Renoir, forever looking to blaze new trails, had and he began spending more and more time in the Mediterratired of the Impressionist movement and refused to take part in the nean town of Cagnes-sur-Mer, where he bought a house in 1907 next two exhibitions. He made his way back to the official Salon in (see sidebar, page 30). He also bought a farmhouse in Essoyes, his 1879, scoring success with a pair of works that included “Madame wife’s birthplace, in the Champagne region, where he is buried Charpentier and her Children” (1878), a portrait of the celebrity wife alongside his wife and three sons. (The Renoir atelier in Essoyes of the publisher of Flaubert and Zola. It was Madame Charpentier who is currently being refurbished; when it opens in 2010, visitors will introduced him to Parisian high society and finally made it possible for be able to see the master’s wheelchair, paint box, easel and other personal effects.) him to support himself through a series of commissioned portraits. 32

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0


the bathers (c. 1918-1919)

“The Bathers” marks the culmination of Renoir’s experimentation with nudes. Working in a large format (6' x 3'), he combines the theme of the languid odalisque with that of the Mediterranean Eden. Matisse considered the work a masterpiece, “one of the most beautiful nudes ever painted.” Thought to be a response to the end of WWI, it presents “a scene where death has no place.”

Unable to walk and partially crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, Renoir spent his final years painting against all odds. His popularity, however, was at an all-time high. In 1923, his “Luncheon of the Boating Party” sold in the United States for a record price of $150,000. “Renoir is the greatest painter alive,” cheered the British critic Clive Bell. The Renoir hero worship—at the expense of Monet—continued until World War II. In 1945, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art went as far as disposing of a 1903 Picasso, “La Vie,” to buy a late Renoir, “Young Shepherd in Repose (Portrait of Alexander Thurneyssen)” (1911), which is in the exhibition. Renoir’s return to the human figure, to portraiture and to the nude was welcomed by critics and collectors tired of early-20thcentury American paintings of landscapes and big wide open spaces. A pair of Americans abroad also helped the artist’s reputation: the influential writer Gertrude Stein and her brother, Leo. In their Paris apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus, on the Left Bank, they hung Renoir next to Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso. In the 1960s, however, late Renoirs suddenly came to be perceived as old-fashioned, dull and out of place in a modern art collection. Some were even de-accessioned. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art disposed of its “The Washer-Women” (c. 1912), now in a private collection. The Museum of Modern Art got rid of all five of its late Renoirs in the 1980s, arguing that Renoir fell outside its modern-art remit. Inaccurate descriptions of the arthritic Renoir as being too crippled to paint and having brushes tied to his contorted hands also damaged his reputation. Patry categorically denies these accounts. “In the pictures of Renoir, you see white bandages, but they weren’t to

hold the brushes,” she says. “They were to stop him from injuring himself, because his fingers were twisted inwards, facing the palms of his hands.” In fact, says Patry, visitors were “struck by his great skill, dexterity and mastery,” and he painted to the very end of his life. What he had difficulty with were large paintings, and he got around that by getting helpers to unroll the canvas section by section. When Matisse later suffered from stomach cancer, he recalled Renoir’s courage in overcoming pain and sickness, and remembered that he was a painter to the end. Nearly a half-century of unpopularity has meant that the late Renoirs have not, until now, had a dedicated exhibition. The last retrospective, held at Paris’s Grand Palais in 1985, contained only a few paintings from this period. Nor has there been a complete catalogue of these works. Author Ann Dumas—who was not involved in the exhibition—is among those who think the late Renoirs deserve far more attention. “People sometimes say that the quality of the late work is not so good, but I think a lot of it is magnificent. When it’s good, there is a sort of extraordinary confidence and opulence about it,” she says. “Renoir was very important to a lot of avant-garde artists in the early 20th century, especially Picasso, who owned one of the big late-Renoir nudes and based a lot of his own big nudes on Renoir’s work. Yes, I think it’s high time for a reappraisal.” “Renoir in the 20th Century” will travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma.org) from February 14 to May 9, 2010, then to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (philamuseum.org) from June 17 to September 6, 2010. Franc e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

33


Château Faugères’s dramatic new winery in Saint-Emilion took shape from this sketch by the award-winning Swiss architect Mario Botta.


extreme estates

By Karen Taylor

Extreme advances in are prompting an extreme rethinking of vat rooms and cellars. Suddenly, celebrity architects are signing on to update venerable estates, and cranes and scaffolding dot the landscape. France Magazine visited the region’s architectural landmarks, toured recent renovations and construction sites, and talked with owners about future projects. At the heart of every design—classic or contemporary—we found an extreme passion for what goes into the glass. / Inside / 46

. Médoc

54

. Saint-Emilion & Pomerol

60

. Graves

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

35


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Bordeaux

Built in the early 1800s, the winery at Château Cos d’Estournel was conceived to wow visitors with its iconoclastic design. Today the building houses the most advanced winemaking facilities in the world, including this revolutionary vat room by Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

BELOW AND RIGHT:

On a sunny afternOOn this past June, the view through Château Cos d’Estournel’s famous triumphal arch revealed a dozen workers feverishly laying paving stones, fitting pieces of sod into geometric patterns and scrubbing the sides of still-empty water basins. Much remained to be done, and there were only two days left until Vinexpo, when thousands of the world’s wine professionals would stream into Bordeaux for the huge biennial trade fair. A good number were expected to make their way to Saint-Estèphe’s Cos d’Estournel, curious to see the spanking-new chais by star architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte and renowned designer Jacques Garcia. For months, the project had been generating major buzz. The idea of pairing Wilmotte—known for his sleek minimalism—and Garcia—for whom more is always more—was intriguing in itself. Rumor had it that Wilmotte’s army of space-age stainless-steel vats sparkled like diamonds beneath a vast, arched blond-wood ceiling. “A setting for the next James Bond film,” wrote one journalist. “The Louis Vuitton of vat rooms,” commented another. Cos had pulled off the seemingly impossible, making the most workaday part of a winery look positively sexy. The pièce de résistance was the ascenseurs à cuves. A first in the wine world, these outsized, high-tech elevators were designed exclusively for vats, ferrying them between floors and thus making it possible to complete the entire vinification process using only gravity. These days, the Earth’s pull seems to be on the mind of every serious winemaker, and many have devised ways to use it rather than traditional pumps, which they now consider too rough for their coddled grapes and wine. But no one had yet devised anything like Cos’s elevators, and these shiny vats in their sleek glass shafts were inciting serious chais-envy throughout the region. 36

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

The specTacular renovaTions at Cos are the latest addition to

a body of contemporary architecture that originated just across the street at Château Lafite Rothschild back in 1986, when Baron Eric de Rothschild commissioned Catalan architect Ricardo de Bofill to build a new underground wine cellar. This was long before starchitects would transform Napa and Rioja, and hiring international talent for such a project was a radical idea. (Around that same time, a relatively unknown Michael Graves was building Napa’s Clos Pégase, now considered America’s “first monument to wine as art.”) Bofill did not disappoint. His revolutionary design transformed the classic barrel cellar—typically a rectangular shape housing long rows of casks—into an octagon, with wood casks stacked in concentric rings around a rotunda illuminated by a skylight. This elegantly simple arrangement proved to be not only aesthetically pleasing but highly efficient, reducing the distances covered by cellar workers by some 200 miles per year. It has been widely copied since. A few years later, Margaux’s Château Prieuré Lichine, originally a medieval Benedictine priory, dabbled in contemporary design when it expanded its cellars and added a round, concrete structure inspired by the shape of a wine barrel. Conceived as a tasting room, visitors center and boutique, it is topped by a helipad—ritzy in its day but now fallen into disuse. Architect Philippe Mazières, who has since worked on a number of international projects including Rioja’s acclaimed Viña Real, recalls that owner Sasha Lichine’s American background prompted the tourism aspect, something then almost unheard of at top Bordeaux estates. Other innovative projects followed, including dramatic renovations at Château Pichon-Longueville by the French-American team Jean de


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Bordeaux

whether the architect is lOcal Or an internatiOnal superstar, new cOnstructiOn here is almOst always all abOut the wine. Gastines and Patrick Dillon. “We gave them a very detailed technical brief and asked them to design around it,” says Jean-Michel Cazes, who directed the property at the time. “They were the first to carefully integrate winemaking facilities into the surroundings.” Indeed, when visitors approach the fairy-tale château with its turrets and pitched slate roof, they barely notice the chais and reception rooms flanking the 19thcentury edifice. The additions are sunk into the ground, with only a few architectural flourishes hinting at the state-of-the-art winery below. 38

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

Château Mouton Rothschild’s Baron Philippe de Rothschild was a visionary, introducing château bottling and turning over the design of his labels to famous artists. In 1926—when he was only 24—he commissioned architect Charles Siclis to design this 100-meter-long barrel cellar, a landmark in viticultural design.

BELOW:

Daring as they were, these initiatives were largely eclipsed by the fabulous wineries springing up in the New World (including estates such as Dominus and Opus One that are owned or co-owned by French winemakers) and in Spain’s Rioja Valley, the new hotbed of viticultural design. Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava and others have built these marvelous wine temples from scratch, designing monumental spaces to project an iconic brand image and accommodate hospitality, retail and other activities. Now, world-renowned architects are setting their sights on Bordeaux—Mario Botta has just completed arresting chais for Château Faugères, Christian de Portzamparc is revamping the legendary Château Cheval Blanc and other high-profile collaborations are in the starting blocks. But regardless of whether the architect is local or an international superstar, new construction here is almost always all about the wine. This is particularly true of the highly competitive grand cru vineyards, which are locked in a constant battle to improve quality. They tend to see contemporary architecture the way Olympic swimmers see high-tech swimwear—cool, but only if it helps them win.


BELOW: The most famous architectural feature of Château Latour is its 17th-century dovecote; many mistake it for the estate’s namesake tower, long since disappeared. Current owner François Pinault recently added a new iconic structure when he rebuilt the estate’s winemaking facilities, which now include this minimalist tasting room.

A

sk any leading Bordeaux winemaker why he or she is building or renovating cellars and vat rooms (together referred to as les chais), and they won’t wax poetic about seductive volumes, angles or surfaces. Instead, they will immediately tell you they want to capitalize on the tremendous investments they have made in their vineyards. “Just 20 years ago we were still in the Middle Ages!” laughs oenologist Michel Rolland, who in addition to consulting with more than a hundred properties throughout the world runs several estates of his own. “Since then, we have learned that when the raw material is good, the oenologist’s role is less important. So a lot of work has gone into the vineyard.” Thanks to Rolland and others, winemakers now know that the highest-quality wines are made from grapes that are fully ripe and picked at their voluptuous best. In a region like Bordeaux, with its

unpredictable weather and varietals that mature at different times, this is not as simple as it sounds. The race to ripeness has required enormous increases in labor, as each vine is practically treated as an individual case. Leaves and shoots, for example, are thinned as needed and bunches are selectively eliminated, all by hand. Since the mid-1990s, there has also been an intense focus on terroir. “Winemakers began taking samples from their vineyards to see what the soil and subsoil were made of,” explains wine writer Didier Ters. “Now, their intimate knowledge of their particular terroir dictates everything they do—which varietals they plant where, which rootstocks they use, even how the wine is vinified.” One of the results is that harvests are much more complicated— and costly—than in the past. Philippe Garcia, the cellar master at Château Malartic-Lagravière, explains that in the 1980s, les vendanges were simple: You began with the ripest grapes and continued until all the fruit had been picked. By the 1990s, however, châteaux were harvesting grapes from each parcel of each varietal separately and fermenting them in separate vats. F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

39


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

BELOW: Château Cantemerle offers a classic example of a 19th-century vat room built alongside but not adjoining the estate’s château. RIGHT: Pomerol’s diminutive Château Petit-Village packs a big design punch with its black cellar sliced with channels of white light.

Bordeaux

THE BORDEAUX CHÂTEAU Unlike winegrowing regions in

the New World, Bordeaux has a wine culture and architecture that date back centuries. In 1988, Paris’s Pompidou Center devoted an exhibition to the subject, pointing out that a Bordeaux peculiarity is to refer to any vineyard as a “château,” regardless of whether or not it actually possesses a château—or any residence at all, for that matter. In the exhibition catalogue, Robert Coustet relates that the first châteaux were in fact fortified medieval castles, manor houses and other residences that eventually became surrounded by vines as winemaking spread

throughout the area. The first estate conceived expressly for wine production was Château Haut-Brion, built in 1550. With its aristocratic residence and winemaking facilities, it became a model for all that would follow. These châteaux were relatively modest in size—there is nothing in Bordeaux remotely like Versailles, Fontainebleau or the sprawling Loire Valley castles. They were summer homes, and while owners wanted them to suitably impress, they didn’t want to saddle themselves with money pits. So status was typically conveyed through architectural details such as towers borrowed from Gothic and medieval

“The latest trend for reds is vinification intraparcellaire,” he says. “Each parcel may be broken down into different zones—two, sometimes three—according to the characteristics of the grapes. Each zone is vinified separately.” This evolution has created a need for a new kind of vat room, one with more and smaller cuves. Depending on the characteristics of the terroir and the vintner’s winemaking philosophy, fermenting tanks may be stainless steel, concrete or wood. Some vineyards, especially those that include a variety of soils, use all three. The wines from each vat are thus different, providing the winemaker with a palette of colors to use in his final blends. Another consequence of all this attention to the fruit is that grapes are now treated with the utmost care as they are transferred from vineyard to vat. Some growers are so fussy that you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that each grape is carried to the vat room on its own velvet pillow. The point is to avoid bruising or oxygenation, which occurs if the skin is broken. The wine too is handled much more gently. During vinification, for example, workers used to pump the fermenting juice, or must, from an opening at the bottom of the vat through a hose back up to the top, where it was sprayed over the “cap” (the grape skins, seeds and other bits that float to the surface). Called remontage, this process allows the wine to extract more of the color, tannins and other qualities from the solid matter. It is still practiced, but estates here have 40

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

styles, dovecotes (the most famous being the one at Latour) and imposing gateways, such as the majestic entrance at Château Léoville-Las-Cases. Given that there was no local architectural idiom, the châteaux built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries displayed a wide variety of neoclassical styles. What they did have in common was that all the buildings— the residence, the structures for winemaking and those housing workers, farm animals and so on—were clustered together and often attached to one another. This changed in the late-19th century, when new vinification methods created a need for new freestanding structures. Their design commonly consisted of a ground floor, where the vats were located, and a mezzanine. Holes in the mezzanine’s wood floor provided access to the top of the vats below. Grapes were hoisted up via a pulley system on the outside of the building, then moved inside through large openings in the wall.

These new buildings were architecturally distinct from the rest of the estate. Typically brick or plaster with contrasting quoins and stonework trim, they featured large carriage doors, oeil de boeuf windows on the upper level and wine-themed decorative elements. Inside, high ceilings with exposed wood rafters allowed better air circulation. Château Lynch-Bages has preserved one of the very few cuviers dating from this period. “It’s still in working order,” says owner Jean-Michel Cazes, standing on the rusty-red wood floor of the mezzanine. “This set-up was much better for workers. Before, they worked on the ground and often became sick from the CO2 given off during fermentation. But CO2 is heavier than air, so when they worked up here, it didn’t bother them.” Looking around at the old equipment, he deadpans, “And as you can see, Lynch-Bages was way ahead of its time—a century ago, we were already using gravity instead of pumps.”

devised new ways to use gravity rather than the forceful pumps that can “beat up” the must, releasing undesirable flavors or strong tannins from ripped skins or bruised seeds. Winemakers are just as fanatical about sorting, also considered key to avoiding unwanted flavors and aromas. This is still largely done by hand, but since 2007, some vineyards have invested in new “Tribaie” machines that not only spit out vegetal debris but gauge the density of each grape, sorting them into groups according to ripeness. This allows winemakers to select only the best grapes for their best wines. An even newer gadget, used for the first time in 2009, is the “optical sorter”—lasers scan each grape along a conveyor belt, and pulses of air eject those that don’t make the grade. “The selection process has become draconian,” says Garcia. “The result is that the quality of the top wines just keeps going up. Some châteaux now use only 35 percent of their production in their grand vin, the rest goes into second wines. Here at Malartic-Lagravière, we used to put 85 percent of our wine into our grand vin; now that figure is down to 40 or 50 percent.” “Perhaps because conditions are difficult here, Bordeaux has developed the most advanced vineyards in the world,” says Philippe Castéja, president of the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855. “The result is that there are no more bad years. There are years that are better than others, but no more bad years. Twenty years ago, the 2008 vintage would have been a disaster. Instead, it was lauded by Robert Parker.”


Franc e • wi n t e r 2 0 0 9

33


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Bordeaux

w

hen designing cellars and vinification rooms, the architect’s first job is to accommodate these new realities, creating spaces tailored to new methods and new equipment. Bernard Mazières, whose client roster includes the most famous names in wine—Margaux, Yquem, Latour—says that Bordeaux is going through a period similar to the 1980s, when owners began to revamp buildings that hadn’t changed in a century. “Back then, several factors came together at once,” he explains. “Since the 1970s, estates had been bottling at the château rather than shipping barrels for bottling elsewhere; not long after, they began keeping their inventory on the premises rather than sending it to négociant warehouses in Bordeaux. These new practices coincided 42

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

Like many Bordeaux estates, Château La Mission Haut-Brion has opted to install state-of-the-art technology in a décor that honors its venerable and unique history. Its new cellar provides scientifically controlled conditions for aging wines while also serving as a romantic setting for fabulous dinner parties.

BELOW:

with important advances in winemaking technology, and together they created a need for renovated facilities.” At the same time, money was flowing into the region, thanks to an increase in worldwide sales and a new class of owners, such as banks and insurance companies, that were buying up long-neglected properties with the intention of reviving them. The result was a Bordeaux building boom. “Now, we’re seeing another revolution in winemaking techniques, and some of those same estates are redoing their chais once again,” says Mazières. “In Bordeaux, when you see scaffolding at a vineyard, you can be pretty sure that their wine is poised to improve.” Indeed, one of the hallmarks of new construction today is that owners and cellar masters now work very closely with the architect. “Fifteen years ago, architecture and technical aspects were considered separately,” says oenologist Michel Rolland. “Now they are conceived as a whole; we give the architect a very specific technical brief, and he then designs around it.” Yet while many owners are commissioning interiors that are très 21st-century, most prefer exterior styles that are in keeping with the rest of the estate. “They want to maintain a continuity with what has


Architecture at Château Smith Haut Lafitte is all about charm and tradition, yet the estate communicates that it is also very 21st-century through works of art such as this “Bottomless Well” by Korean-American artist Chul-Hyun Ahn. Mirrors create optical illusions evoking infinity, suggesting winemakers’ eternal efforts to improve.

BELOW:

“Winemakers want to modernize, but they also want to respect Bordeaux’s unique wine culture; they want to preserve its soul.” the region and each of its châteaux unique and can be used to great effect. It is hard to imagine, for example, a better design choice than the “monastic” look of the new cellars at Château La Mission Haut-Brion, a tribute to the estate’s history as home to the Lazarist Fathers. So will contemporary styles be relegated to underground cellars à la Lafite? “The Bordelais never rush into things,” says Didier Ters, who has reported on the region’s vineyards for decades. “It’s just not in their character. That said, there are some very interesting projects on the drawing board right now, and over the next few years, we are going to see some exciting additions to the landscape.” The City of Bordeaux is setting the tone: This past November, it announced plans for a spectacular €55 million center that will be devoted to wine culture and tourism; the architectural competition is expected to be fierce, with the world’s top talents vying for the job. Along with aesthetics, one of the leading preoccupations

come before,” says Mazières. “They want to update and modernize, but they also want to respect Bordeaux’s unique wine culture; they want to preserve its soul.” The irony is that while Bordeaux châteaux may appear to today’s visitors as a coherent ensemble, they are anything but. “The Médoc is very unique, with a rather fanciful collection of architecture,” points out Jean-Michel Cazes, owner of Pauillac’s Château LynchBages. “There was no indigenous style here, so when landowners built new residences, they copied others—we have neo-Palladian, neo-Gothic, neo-Elizabethan, neo-Renaissance….” The epitome of this whimsical architecture is of course Cos d’Estournel, which in fact has no château at all but rather elaborate chais that Louis d’Estournel decked out with rooftop pagodas and a massive carved-wood door he shipped in from Zanzibar in the 1830s. Working within the confines of this historic context can be frustrating for architects—Wilmotte’s innovative ideas for the exterior of the chais at Cos d’Estournel were rejected in favor of a classic look in keeping with the rest of the estate. At the same time, this heritage makes

for architects today is materials. Alain Triaud remembers that when he was renovating the chais at Château Ducru Beaucaillou in 1999-2001, there was a growing concern that various building products might adversely affect the wine. “We worked closely with a new lab in Bordeaux to make sure that paint, glue, wood treatments and everything else we used would not have negative impacts on the wine,” says the Bordeaux-based architect. “We were pioneers. Today it is standard practice to have materials vetted by that lab.” More recently, he says, the focus has shifted to identifying environmentally friendly materials and systems, in keeping with the more natural methods now used in the vineyards. While most of their work is very technical, architects never lose sight of the fact that vineyards are unlike any other production facility. “Wine is all about magic and romance,” says Triaud. “You want people to feel that they are someplace special, an extraordinary place where this incredible alchemy occurs.” The châteaux, of course, have always had romance in spades with their ornate rooms full of antiques, works of art and rich draperies. The wine cellars too exude a quiet sense of privilege; cool and damp, they enchant visitors with their long rows of wine-stained barrels, soft lighting and delicious aromas. F r a n c e ��� W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

43


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Bordeaux

Yet not that long ago, no one even thought of inviting the public into these spaces. “The Baron de Rothschild, who built the magnificent cellars at Mouton, was probably the first to realize they would interest visitors,” says Mazières. “Bofill continued in that vein at Lafite, and the concept of projecting a certain image of the wine through architecture continues to influence cellar design to this day.” Now, with wine aficionados increasingly interested in how wine is made, aesthetics are coming into play even in vat rooms, as Cos d’Estournel so eloquently demonstrates. High design is also being lavished on tasting rooms, reception rooms and other public areas. “Bordeaux’s châteaux have always welcomed visitors, but it has been very low key, mostly people in the trade and collectors,” explains Sylvie Gaillard of the Bordeaux Tourist Office. “In other parts of the world, tourism has always been a much bigger part of the winery business because a lot of the wine is sold at the vineyard. That’s not how it works in Bordeaux. Here, nearly all the wine is sold to négociants, who in turn sell to importers and distributors.” But image is everything in today’s competitive market, and even the traditionally reserved grand cru vineyards—about 5 percent of the region’s 10,000 producers—are enthusiastically welcoming wine lovers from around the world. “There’s definitely a new openness,” says Gaillard. “Some châteaux offer tours to small groups by reservation only, others are open seven days a week, still others are focused on hosting corporate dinners and high-end events. There are even a few that are turning their châteaux into lovely B&Bs.”

f

rom vineyards to vats to visitors, each estate does things its own way. Indeed, it is this endless variety that makes Bordeaux so endlessly fascinating. “There is no single religion here,” says Malartic-Lagravière’s Philippe Garcia. “No one is right or wrong. At the end of the day, all that really matters is what is in the glass.” And Garcia and his fellow winemakers leave no doubt that they are determined to make what is in that glass ever more exquisite. 44

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

BELOW: Château Faugères’s new winery by Mario Botta shines like a beacon in the Saint-Emilion night sky. Inaugurated this past fall, it set a new standard for viticultural technology and design.

These vintners are a super high-octane bunch—pumped, jazzed, energized, immensely proud of what they have accomplished and psyched about reaching ever higher. Yet the investments needed to obtain even an incremental increase in quality can be phenomenal—a new barrel cellar or vat room typically costs millions of euros. Is it worth it? That depends on whom you ask. For Jean-Guillaume Prats, director of Cos d’Estournel, the answer is an unequivocal yes. “Our new chais are extraordinary, and since I am French and thus arrogant by definition, I don’t mind saying that we have the most avant-garde winery in the world. But it wasn’t a wealthy owner’s caprice; it is part of a carefully thought-out business plan.” And it is now part of Bordeaux’s history which, he points out, includes a long list of innovations and technological advances that have influenced winemaking around the world. “Bordeaux has always been incredibly competitive, attracting people from outside the region who have the financial means, the desire and the dynamism to really push the envelope,” he says. “Think of it this way: Owning a grand cru vineyard is like owning a Formula One racing car—sometimes you have to spend a lot of money to gain a fraction of a second. But it’s that fraction of a second that can get you across the finish line first.”


CARNET DE ROUTE

Bordeaux’s famous châteaux have long been emblematic of this region’s celebrated “wine civilization.” But as wine enthusiasts become more sophisticated, their interests are extending beyond opulent salons and tasting tables to vat rooms and cellars—which in turn are getting fresh attention from architects and designers. The following pages highlight some of the most interesting destinations for today’s wine tourist.

/ APPELLATIONS /

Po me ro l

Mé do c

Médoc

BordeauX

Château Pontet-Canet Château Lynch-Bages Château Pichon-Longueville Château La Lagune

S Em ain il tio n Gr av es

Château Cos d’Estournel

Château Brane-Cantenac Château Latour

SaintEmilion & Pomerol

Graves

Château Faugères Château Fonplégade

Château La Louvière Château MalarticLagravière

Château Franc Mayne Château Vieux Maillet

Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Château Petit-Village

Château de Rochemorin

Château Pavie

Château Haut-Selve

Château de Lussac

Château La Mission Haut-Brion

Domaine des Collines

Domaine de Chevalier

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

45


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Médoc

château cOs d’estOurnel a TradiTion of audaciTy > Saint-EStèphE, Grand Cru ClaSSé

“I think that it’s a wine cellar… This very elegant building, a brilliant bright-yellow color, is really of no particular style; it is neither Greek nor Gothic but very cheerful and more or less Chinese. On the façade, there is only one word: Cos.” French writer Stendhal penned these words in 1838, and visitors ever since have marveled at the strange architecture of this winery. Probably the most extraordinary building in the Médoc, it sprang from the imagination of its eccentric owner, Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel (1762-1853), who inherited the property in 1791. As colorful as any character in a novel, d’Estournel was driven by a blind passion for his vineyard, one that earned his wine a place on the tables of Napoleon III and Queen Victoria but that also drove him so deep into debt that he died penniless. Along the way, he advanced the science of winemaking and repeatedly stunned the Bordeaux wine world with ARCHITECT antics such as his “Retour des Jean-Michel Indes” wines, inspired when an Wilmotte, 2009 undelivered shipment to India was returned to his estate. Surprised that the wine tasted better than when it had left the property, he promptly began sending his vintages on round-trip voyages, branding these bottles with a distinctive “R.” They became wildly popular. Indeed, d’Estournel excelled at cultivating a sense of magical exoticism, understanding early on that wine is like no other product, that dreams and imagination are part of the tasting experience. His new chais echoed this conviction— 46

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0


ExtrEME

Estournel was driven by a blind passion for his vineyard, one/that earned EStAtES Medoc his wine aen by a blind passion for his vineyard, one that earned his wine aen by a blind Bord EAux BordEAux passion for his vineyard, one that earned his wine a place on the tables of Napol frOm tOp:

.. ........ ........ ...... ......

ChâtEAu CoS d’EStourNEL

a tradition of audacity

> Saint-EStèphE, Grand Cru ClaSSé

“I think that it’s a wine cellar… This very elegant building, a brilliant bright-yellow color, is really of no particular style; it is neither Greek nor Gothic but very cheerful and more or less Chinese. On the façade, there is only one word: Cos.” French writer Stendhal penned these words in 1838, and visitors ever since have marveled at the strange architecture of this winery. Probably the most extraordinary building in the Médoc, it sprang from the imagination of its eccentric owner, Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel (1762-1853), who inherited the property in 1791. As colorful as any ARCHITECT character in a novel, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, 2009 d’Estournel was driven by a blind passion for his vineyard, one that earned his wine a place on the tables of Napoleon III and Queen Victoria but that also drove him so deep into debt that he died penniless. Along the way, he advanced the science of winemaking and repeatedly stunned the Bordeaux wine world with antics such as his “Retour des Indes” wines, inspired when an undelivered shipment to

32

Fran c e • wi n t e r 2 0 0 9


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Médoc

Jacques Garcia’s design for Cos d’Estournel’s bottle cellar captures the mystique created by the famous “Maharajah of Saint-Estèphe.” belOw left: JeanMichel Wilmotte’s striking glass columns make for an unexpectedly glamorous barrel cellar. belOw riGht: President Jean-Guillaume Prats, who oversaw the renovations. previOus paGe:

d’estOurnel cultivated a sense Of maGical exOticism.

the magnificent golden sandstone structure is topped with exuberant pagodas and boasts an enormous carved-wood door imported from Zanzibar. Inside, mesmerized visitors tasted his wines amid flickering candles, mirrors, plush carpets and silk wall hangings. Without d’Estournel’s unbridled zeal, his namesake wines might never have achieved the renown they enjoy today, and the estate’s latest renovations pay generous tribute to his influence and contributions. “No one since d’Estournel had looked at the big picture here,” says Jean-Guillaume Prats, president of Cos d’Estournel since 2000. “Work had been done in bits and pieces, but this time, we wanted to rethink everything, to rationalize 48

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

the entire work space and incorporate the latest technologies.” Together with Michel Reybier, an industrialist who purchased the property in 2000, Prats worked out a plan to renovate and enlarge the chais; a second phase will turn nearby buildings into guest rooms, a boutique and a tasting room. “Cos never had a château, so this will vastly improve our facilities for welcoming visitors,” says Prats. He selected architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte for his demonstrated ability to integrate contemporary design into historic buildings— and for his love of wine. “Vat rooms are usually boring; frankly, they look a lot like dairies,” laughs Wilmotte. “We wanted this one to be very different, to provide a dramatic

setting for state-of-the-art winemaking equipment.” The materials he chose—stainless steel, oak and glass—were inspired by vats, barrels and bottles. The overall effect is open and airy, sleek and chic—way more art gallery than dairy. The original part of the chais, now used for sorting grapes, was decorated by Jacques Garcia, as renowned for his sumptuously rich interiors as Wilmotte is for his spare designs. In dramatic contrast with the adjacent vinification room, it has wine-red walls, massive dark wood beams and stone elephants standing guard by the doors. Imbued with the sensual exoticism that so enchanted d’Estournel, this vast, high-ceilinged space just beyond the Zanzibar door is sometimes used for receptions and other events. Equally theatrical is the barrel cellar, dramatically lit by glowing glass columns, and the bottle cellar, an opulent yet intimate space that feels like the inside of an Indian jewel box. Outside, the building has been restored to its original glory, and the grounds now feature fanciful elephant topiaries, pink Indian paving stones and other design elements that recall Louis d’Estournel—that irrepressible dreamer known as the Maharajah of SaintEstèphe. cosestournel.com


BELOW TOP: Château Pontet-Canet’s willingness to embrace different techniques and technologies—from horse-drawn plows to these sculptural concrete vats—has burnished the reputation of its wines. BOTTOM: Visitors at Château Lynch-Bages can experience the history of viticultural design by touring the estate’s 19th-century vat room.

A rchitect

Christophe Massie, 2005

Château Pontet-Canet Pauillac, Grand Cru Classé

Don’t expect to see any daring contemporary architecture as you approach Pontet-Canet. Here, a lovely 18th-century château nestles peacefully in a sea of vines; behind it, a quaint courtyard is surrounded by a cluster of storybook buildings. You would never guess that inside one of

them are some of the coolest vats in the region. Shaped like truncated cones and made entirely of concrete, these sculptural cuves weren’t chosen for their sleek good looks but rather because they are suited to the vineyard’s new biodynamic practices, which preclude the addition of yeast

during the fermentation process. This means that the process takes longer, requiring vats that can remain at a constant temperature. Wood and concrete do this equally well, so Pontet-Canet now has two vat rooms: One dating from the 19thcentury features Eiffel-inspired cast-

iron columns and beams along with rows of handsome wood vats; another is a minimalist space housing their contemporary concrete cousins. Smaller in size, the new concrete vats also give the vineyard the flexibility to vinify parcels or parts of parcels separately. pontet-canet.com

Château Lynch-Bages

To get a historical perspective on current chais design, stop by Lynch-Bages, one of the rare Bordeaux estates to have preserved intact its vintage winemaking facilities. Housed in a building dating back to the 16th or 17th century, the vat room was installed in the 1800s and remained in service until 1975. Its design—a wood mezzanine with openings allowing access to the tops of the vats—is in keeping with the tenets of a certain Monsieur Skawinski, who managed several Médoc properties. The objective was to provide workers with an elevated workspace safe from the CO2 given off during fermentation (it sank to the ground level) while also providing other technical and sanitary advantages. Skawinski’s ideas were widely adopted throughout the region and continue to influence vat-room design today. All of Lynch-Bages’s original equipment is still in place, allowing visitors to follow every step of the winemaking process. lynchbages.com Pauillac, Grand Cru Classé

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

49


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Gazing at Château Pichon-Longueville’s romantic 19th-century façade, no one would guess that beneath the serene water feature is a state-of-the-art barrel cellar. A circular opening brings daylight into the chai, distinctive for its large size and absence of support columns.

belOw:

Médoc

château pichOnlOnGueville

Pauillac, Grand Cru Classé

Every fairy-tale château needs a Prince Charming; for PichonLongueville, that turned out to be AXA Millésimes, a subsidiary of the mega insurance company run by Claude Bébéar. Since acquiring the property in 1987, AXA has invested in every aspect of its operations, burnishing the reputation of this second growth and turning what was once a Sleeping Beauty into a vibrant destination for wine lovers. Under then-director Jean-Michel Cazes, improvements in the vineyards began immediately, as did renovations to the 19th-century château, which now has six beautifully appointed guest rooms. More daunting was the challenge of building a new vat room and cellars— how could this property add modern

50

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

facilities without detracting from its magnificent château and gardens? A competition was launched by the Pompidou Center in Paris, and the winning design was signed by the French-American team of Jean de Gastines and Patrick Dillon. Their solution was to put the new construction on either side of the château, sinking it into the ground so that only one floor is visible. Viewed from the street—the famous Route des Châteaux—the additions are barely noticeable. Skylights illuminate the vat room, which was given a circular configuration for optimum efficiency, and reception areas and a tasting room were added to better welcome visitors. In 2007, managing director Christian Seely added a 12,000-square-

ARCHITECTS

Jean de Gastines and Patrick Dillon, 1991; Alain Triaud, 2007

foot barrel cellar that is even less conspicuous than the prior additions: The vaulted concrete structure is entirely underground, tucked beneath the reflecting pool that mirrors the château. “Visitors often remark that there seems to be something missing,” says architect Alain Triaud. “And they are right—there are no support columns. Cellars are workplaces, and my job is to rationalize the work flow as much as possible. Columns get in the way, so I used bridge-building technologies to create a cellar without them.”

The openness of the space also makes it ideal for elegant soirées, when votive candles flicker atop seemingly endless rows of casks and classical music wafts through the wine-scented air. By early 2010, renovations to the reception areas will also be complete, allowing AXA Millésimes to fulfill its objective of catering to every level of wine tourism, from casual tastings (the château is open to the public seven days a week) to romantic garden parties and exclusive corporate events. pichonlongueville.com


BELOW: Many Bordeaux châteaux use gravity instead of pumps, but La Lagune has come up with perhaps the most original technique: tubular arms that reach across the room from the sorting station to the vats. BELOW RIGHT: Head oenologist Caroline Frey samples wines aging in the new barrel cellar. BOTTOM: Movable shutter panels are an integral part of Château Brane-Cantenac’s green design, which was way ahead of its time.

Château La Lagune

Haut-Médoc, Grand Cru Classé

Architect

Patrick Baggio, 2004

When the Frey family purchased La Lagune in 2000, they set out to restore its former splendor while also anchoring it firmly in the 21st century. Viticultural practices were revisited, and in 2004, 24-year-old Caroline Frey, fresh out of wine school in Bordeaux, took over as head oenologist. Meanwhile, the stately 18th-century chartreuse—a one-story residence typical of this region—was entirely renovated and now offers six guest rooms, each with

Today, just about every new winery integrates some level of sustainable development and eco-friendly practices. That wasn’t the case in the late 1990s, when owner Henri Lurton Margaux, Grand Cru Classé decided to build a new vat room at Brane-Cantenac. “Back then, we were pretty much the only ones here thinking about these issues,” says estate manager Christophe Capdeville. “We told the architect that we wanted the new facilities to be larger and more functional, we wanted to use eco-friendly materials, and we didn’t want air conditioning. And we wanted the vat room to be aesthetically pleasing yet very different in style from the historic buildings on the estate.” Vincent Dufos de Rau—Lurton’s cousin—met the challenge with features such as sandwich technologies to insulate walls and ceiling, and a natural ventilation system that brings outdoor air inside through underground ducts, cooling it along the way. Also key to the design is a wall of movable shutter panels installed parallel to the southwest façade, which naturally controls light and heat while evoking the tobacco-drying sheds that used to dot southwestern France. “One of the most difficult aspects of the project was to find the kind of environmentally friendly materials we wanted, especially ones that would be neutral and not A rchitect interfere with the wine,” says Capdeville. “Now of course you can just Google that Vincent Dufos de Rau, 1999 sort of thing.” brane-cantenac.com

Château Brane-Cantenac

a different décor. A large country kitchen, complete with a blinding array of polished copper pots, delights visitors with its warmth and charm. A totally different style reigns on the other end of the property, where a new vat room flaunts its contemporary design creds. Outside, boxwood grows in super-sized flower pots; inside, all is stainless steel, blond wood and glass. Most remarkable is La Lagune’s solution to the gravity issue. Like the other great estates of this region, it treats its grapes with the utmost care, forgoing pumps in favor of gentle gravity. Here, the challenge was to transfer grapes from the sorting tables, located on a second-story platform, to the openings atop the 72 vats. The sci-fi solution? Two hollow 50-foot stainless-steel arms. Set at a 5 degree incline, these articulated limbs reach across the room and allow the grapes to leisurely tumble into the vats. chateau-lalagune.com


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Function meets design meets tradition at premier grand cru Château Latour, one of the most legendary names in the world of wine. The repeating motif created by rows of barrels with wine-stained bands is complemented by neat rows of tiny lights hanging from the ceiling.

belOw:

Médoc

Architect

Bernard Mazières; interior Design

Bruno Moinard; 2003

château latOur

Pauillac, Grand Cru Classé

Ask area winemakers to name their favorite contemporary chais, and “Latour” is often their response. Perhaps it is the way the design blends effortlessly with its legendary surroundings yet is unmistakably modern. Perhaps it is the way it silently commands respect for the winemaker’s art. Commissioned by owner François Pinault, the billionaire head of 52

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

the PPR luxury conglomerate, the new vat room, cellar and tasting room replaced a collection of old buildings; sitting placidly amid the vines, the new single-story structure looks as if it has been there as long as the estate’s famous dovecote. To gain additional space without encroaching on precious vineyards, the architect excavated a lower level where he placed the barrel

cellar, constructed from tinted concrete. Stacked two deep, the wood casks are illuminated by a constellation of tiny lights suspended from the ceiling, creating what Mazières calls an “almost meditative” mood. Upstairs, four long rows of stainless-steel vats are aligned beneath a traditional woodbeamed ceiling. The effect is simple and spare yet surprisingly imposing.

An adjacent tasting room lets this famous wine take center stage, with an understated décor by Bruno Moinard, whose prestigious projects include Cartier boutiques worldwide. Displaying a restrained elegance worthy of a premier grand cru, the room features a glass wall framing the vineyards, a sleek white counter and dark polished-concrete floors and walls. chateau-latour.com


RIGHT: Tidy rectangular plots of vines surround Château Montrose, with its enviable location on the banks of the Garonne. The entire complex, which includes winemaking facilities and reception rooms as well as a château and helipad, is being renovated to meet the latest standards in energy efficiency and conservation.

COMING SOON Château Fourcas Hosten Listrac-Médoc, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur

In 2006, Renaud and Laurent Momméja, members of the Hermès family, purchased this cru bourgeois in Listrac. Renovations are already well under way on the estate’s exquisite chartreuse, which they are restoring in authentic 18th-century style. While waiting to move in, Renaud is working out of a temporary office set up on the estate’s expansive grounds, orchestrating improvements in the vineyards while reviewing Christophe Massie’s sketches for a new vat room, tasting room and boutique. The estate is slated to open to visitors in 2011. fourcashosten.fr

Château Clerc-Milon Pauillac, Grand Cru Classé

those of Mouton and Lafite. The strategy calls for brandnew chais conceived by French stage designer Richard Peduzzi; long a collaborator of film director Patrice Chéreau, he recently designed the controversial set for “Tosca” at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. “There was no question of building a pastiche of an 18th-century château,” says Managing and Commercial Director Hervé Berland. “We wanted to incorporate the latest winemaking technologies into a building that would be architecturally interesting and very contemporary, and we knew Peduzzi could deliver that.” The ensemble will include a vat room, cellars, reception areas and a tasting room, all eco-friendly and almost entirely energy independent, thanks to rooftop solar panels. Work is slated for completion in March 2010. bpdr.com

Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac, Grand Cru Classé

It’s not easy to live in the shadow of Château Mouton Rothschild, the world-famous premier grand cru belonging to Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and her family. Now, the Rothschilds are nudging their other fine wines into the limelight, including fifth-growth Clerc-Milon, whose vineyards are tucked between

Mouton Rothschild is no stranger to audacious architecture. In 1926, owner Baron Philippe de Rothschild built the magnificent Grand Chai, a 100-meterlong barrel cellar that still enthralls visitors. In 1991, his daughter, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, and her partner Robert Mondavi

inaugurated the Opus One winery in California. Designed by Scott Johnson, the landmark building is an unprecedented marriage of European and Californian materials and sensibilities. In 1998, the Baroness joined forces with Viña Concha y Toro S.A. to produce a new Chilean wine called Almaviva; its acclaimed winery was built by leading Chilean architect Martin Hurtado. Now, Mouton has commissioned stage designer Richard Peduzzi, assisted by Bordeaux architect Bernard Mazières, to design extensive renovations for its Pauillac estate. Work is slated to begin in 2010. bpdr.com

Château Palmer Margaux, Grand Cru Classé

Rumor has it that Palmer is planning to revamp its chais within the next few years, but the château remains officially mum on the subject. In the meantime, visitors can take in the current vat room, completed by architect Christophe Massie in 1995. State-of-the-art in its day, it boasts truncated cone-shaped stainlesssteel vats contrasting with a handsome wood mezzanine and imposing exposed wood rafters and beams—a nod to traditional cuverie design. chateaupalmer.com

Château Montrose has an enviable location, with neat rows of vines running down Château to the Garonne and a gentle Montrose breeze constantly blowing in from the river. Wine has been Saint-Estèphe, Grand Cru Classé made here only since the early 1800s, yet by 1855, vintages were extraordinary enough to earn second-growth classification. The Charmolüe family, who owned the property for a century, were devoted stewards, their most recent contribution being an expansive new vinification room designed by Patrick Baggio in 2000. In 2006, the property was sold to billionaire brothers Martin and Olivier Bouygues (Martin runs the giant Bouygues industrial group), and plans were soon drawn up to renovate the entire mosaic of buildings that gives Montrose the feeling of a tiny village. They opted for a style that draws on local vernacular architecture, hiring Yves Grémont, an architect accredited to renovate national historic monuments, to supervise the project. Yet while the buildings may look very 19th-century from the outside, they are totally 21st-century inside. Given Bouygues’s reputation in the building industry, it is not surprising to learn that Montrose is becoming a model of sustainable development and environmentally friendly practices. Director Jean-Bernard Delmas, formerly of Haut-Brion, points out that solar panels will supply all electricity, and buildings are highly energy efficient, with extraordinary insulation (some walls are three feet thick, window panes are an inch thick) and geothermal systems installed for heating and cooling. Renovations completed to date include offices and reception rooms, both decorated with original furnishings by Jacques Garcia, who chose a handsome cream-and-brown palette for the estate. The renowned designer will also outfit the new tasting rooms and guest rooms. A cellar for stocking cases and bottles was recently completed, and seasonal workers (a group from the same region of Spain has been harvesting here for nearly 50 years) now enjoy spanking new quarters. Next up: A spectacular semi-underground barrel cellar designed by Bernard Mazières. Still undecided is the fate of the château itself; although charming, it is quite small and has a dated interior, and the Bouygues have not yet decided whether to renovate or build a new residence. With this notable exception, work is expected to be completed by 2011. chateau-montrose.com F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

53


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

SaintEmilion & Pomerol

château fauGères

breaking new ground

> Saint-EMilion, Grand Cru ClaSSé

In 1992, the Guisez family, owners of Faugères since 1823, built a striking new winery designed by Jean de Gastines and Patrick Dillon. The “architectural envelope,” as winemakers call it, still looks very of-the-moment, but winemaking philosophies and techniques have advanced so much that the equipment— very innovative in its day—is now rather dated. Certainly no match for the ambitions of Silvio Denz, the Swiss perfume entrepreneur who bought the property in 2005. “There was another drawback,” explains Denz. “In 2004, new AOC regulations stipulated that wines must be made in their appellation.” Château Faugères, whose 200 acres of vineyards straddle Saint-Emilion and Côtes de Castillon, had always had a single winery on the Castillon side. “INAO [Institut National des Appellations d’Origine] has granted an exemption for estates like ours,” he says. “But it won’t last forever.” A passionate wine enthusiast, Denz dreams of the day Faugères, which already enjoys an excellent reputation, will produce a SaintEmilion premier grand cru. To boost quality 54

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

Owner Sylvio Denz and architect Mario Botta dig the symbolic first shovels of dirt at Château Faugères’s new winery. OppOsite: Now complete, the structure houses the ultimate in winemaking equipment, and its hilltop perch offers grand views of the Saint-Emilion countryside. belOw left:

and image—and be on the safe side of the INAO rules—he commissioned what is now the most architecturally adventurous winery in Bordeaux. “The fact that it is located about a quarter mile from the estate’s historic residence made it easier to opt for contemporary design,” he explains. “There was no danger of clashing styles.” After considering several other worldrenowned architects, he asked Mario Botta if he would be interested in the project. “He replied that at his age, he only takes on work that he really enjoys,” recalls Denz. “So he agreed to make a sketch, and if I liked it, great; if not, we would part as friends. The moment I saw it, I loved it.” The striking €8 million winery was inaugurated this past September, just in time for the 2009 harvest. Perched on a hill amid the rolling SaintEmilion vineyards, Botta’s “cathedral of wine,” as he likes to call it, possesses a commanding presence worthy of any Bordeaux château yet is neither flamboyant nor extravagant. Indeed, the award-winning Swiss architect, who also designed San Francisco’s MoMA, says his objective was simply to evoke the mutually beneficial relationship between this terroir and the men who turn its fruit into wine. The most impressive part of the design is a central tower, whose lofty belvedere offers fabulous views of the vineyards as well as Faugères’s beautifully restored 18th-century chartreuse and old chais, now used exclusively for Castillon wines. Built of reinforced concrete covered with honey-colored Spanish limestone (the closest match to SaintEmilion’s famous limestone, now exhausted), it provides expansive quarters for offices, tasting rooms and reception and dining areas. Rows of tiny square openings are punched out of its sides, adding texture by day and magic by night, when they are aglow with 248 LED lights. The more discreet, horizontal section built into the hillside houses the vat room, barrel cellar and other technical areas; taking advantage of the topography, it divides the winemaking process among several different floors, thus facilitating the use of gravity at every stage. The above-ground level is

designed to blend into the surroundings, thanks to fragrant rooftop plantings of lavender, rosemary and sedum. Inside, every detail of this winery has quality written all over it. Oenologist extraordinaire Michel Rolland, who has consulted with Faugères for two decades, worked with the estate’s winemaking team to put together a brief that specified equipment and workflow. Faugères wines are now given every imaginable advantage, from refrigerated rooms that chill grapes before sorting to revolutionary optical sorters to the Rolls-Royce of wine presses. It also boasts an array of vats made from French oaks averaging 120 years of age. “The limestone soil here produces tannic, highly structured wines,” explains Denz. “They need wood.” And only the best would do. The ultimate in attention and quality are lavished on the estate’s Péby Faugères. Launched in 1998 by Corinne Guisez in memory of her late husband, Pierre-Bernard (Péby), it is a 100 percent Merlot made from the property’s best parcels. Now it is vinified in 50 French oak barrels, each holding about 200 kilos of grapes that are manually rotated five to six times a day for about 10 days. “It’s very artisanal and very rare to make wine this way,” says esARCHITECT tate manager Alain Dourthe. Mario Botta, 2009 “Only about five or six Bordeaux châteaux do it, but the results are fantastic: silky, supple tannins and strong fruit.” Denz, whose other businesses include Lalique crystal, brings both an intense competitive drive and a deep sense of stewardship of this historic property. Like other passionate winemakers here, he feels that he has been entrusted with an extraordinary and unique terroir, and that it is his mission to allow it to express itself as fully and exquisitely as possible. Preserving the environment goes hand in hand with that mandate. “Faugères is one of only a handful of Bordeaux estates to be certified ISO 14001,” he points out. “Protecting nature and the environment is extremely important to us—and essential for future generations.” chateau-faugeres.com


Franc e • sp ri n g 2 0 0 8

33


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

saintemilion & Pomerol

château fOnpléGade

Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru Classé

On a sunny afternoon this past summer, Stephen Adams took his new Kawasaki Mule for an inaugural spin around the Fonplégade vineyards. He was visibly delighted that the little four-wheel-drive vehicle managed to get him and two passengers up the steep slopes, and excitedly pointed out landmarks visible from this extraordinary perch atop the Saint-

Architect

christian Delpace, 2004-2005

56

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

BELOW: American owners Stephen and Denise Adams have invested heavily in Château Fonplégade, upgrading the vineyards, restoring and redecorating the 19th-century château and totally renovating the chais. The estate’s new focus on wine tourism is reflected in the expansive new tasting room and boutique.

Emilion plateau. “I think visitors are really going to like this!” he exclaimed. Adams may be a 71-year-old businessman and billionaire, but he is anything but jaded; as he test-drove his latest acquisition, he had the joyful expression of a kid who has just gotten the bike he wanted for Christmas. It is perhaps that enthusiasm that explains the lightning-fast renovations at Fonplégade, which he purchased in 2004. Typically, new owners looking to upgrade an estate focus first on the vineyards then, a few years later, on the winery. “Here, everything happened at once,” laughs director Marjolaine Maurice de Coninck. Following the advice of consulting oenologist Michel Rolland, work in the vineyards focused on improving quality through such measures as replacing tired vines and limiting grape bunches to three per plant. With an eye to becoming fully biodynamic, Fonplégade has also

swapped its tractors for horses. Over at the winery, the old concrete vats were pulled out and replaced with oak. “There used to be disadvantages to all three kinds of vats—concrete, stainless steel and wood,” explains Maurice de Coninck. “But they have pretty much been eliminated. Now, you choose the material that will best enhance the wine that comes from your particular terroir. Our wines really need the contact with wood.” The vat room leads to a groundlevel barrel cellar featuring old stone walls juxtaposed with cutting-edge barrel-stacking equipment that allows workers to rotate or move any one barrel without having to displace the others. Two long, narrow channels of water flow along the floor, providing humidity while referencing the estate’s name, which means “fountain plain.” At the far end, a glass wall and doors open onto a

large, luminous tasting area and boutique selling wine and a range of objects—glasses, polo shirts, corkscrews—sporting the Fonplégade logo. Meanwhile, the gleaming white 19th-century château has had its own makeover, courtesy of Adams’s wife, Denise, an interior decorator. Five years and some €7 million later, Fonplégade has become the flagship of Adams’s collection of vineyards, which now includes six Right Bank properties. While he leaves the winemaking to the pros, the American owner enthusiastically contributes the talent that made his fortune: a keen sense of marketing. Among other initiatives, he has launched a California-style wine club and made Fonplégade the only Saint-Emilion grand cru to welcome the public seven days a week. And of course, the new Mule vineyard tours were all his idea. adamsfrenchvineyards.com


The new vinification room at Château Franc Mayne has both stainless-steel and wood vats, enabling it to get the most out of the property’s different crus. BOTTOM: Architect Philippe Mazières designed his own winery, Domaine des Collines, to be a convivial place where friends and visitors gather for tastings, art exhibits and other events.

BELOW:

Château Franc Mayne Saint Emilion, Grand Cru Classé

Château Franc Mayne has one of the most magical wine cellars in Bordeaux, with casks and bottles stored in five acres of underground quarries that once supplied the limestone that built so much of SaintEmilion. Recently, Griet and Hervé Van MalderenLaviale, who purchased the 17-acre property in 2004, have made the estate’s other facilities appealing to visitors as well, renovating the chais and creating a seamless flow between the winery and the estate’s second business, a nine-room hotel housed in the adjoining 18th-century maison girondine. From the reception area, visitors can now look down through glass walls onto the vinification room to one side and the barrel cellar to the other. The revamp called for pulling out the old concrete vats and replacing them with a combination A rchitect Anne Johnston, of steel and wood, considered more 2006 suitable to the grapes produced on the vineyard’s two distinct kinds of soil. Now, Franc Mayne can make fruity as well as tannic, highly structured wines, which can then be combined into complex blends. From the vat room, a passage beneath the reception area leads to the barrel cellar, a bright, high-ceilinged room with sculptural light fixtures. Here as elsewhere, contemporary design elements freshen up the look yet still respect the historic setting. chateau-francmayne.com, relaisfrancmayne.com

Domaine Des Collines

Philippe Mazières has designed multimillion-dollar wineries in Bordeaux, Rioja, Russia and China. Somewhere along Bordeaux Supérieur the way, he was bitten by the bug and decided that he simply had to have a vineyard of his very own. In 2006, the architect and his wife, Véronique, became the proud owners of 10 acres near Saint-Emilion. The fact that there was no winery on the property was not a problem for Mazières, who took great pleasure in designing his own. From the start, he wanted it to be a lively place with art exhibits and other events open to friends, neighbors and visitors, and it has become just that. Built with eco-friendly materials and a savvy dose of high design, it is a sort of winery in miniature: From just about any spot, you can see the receiving area, vat room, barrel cellar, tasting room and vineyards—all at once. It’s a fun way to grasp the entire winemaking process. Mazières, who cultivates his diminutive vineyard “like a garden,” is more than a little proud that his wines have won recognition; most recently, the weekly VSD named Domaine A rchitect des Collines one of the top 10 Bordeaux Supérieur Philippe wines under €10. domainedescollines.com Mazières, 2008


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

saintemilion & Pomerol

TOP: Château Vieux Maillet has morphed from a collection of nondescript buildings into a study in savvy design, with this hip tasting room as centerpiece. CENTER: Edgy materials and a minimalist aesthetic have redefined Château Petit-Village. BOTTOM: When renovating its cellar, Château Pavie elected to combine the old with the new, mixing contemporary art with arches recovered from a 19th-century train station.

château vieux maillet Pomerol

Vieux Maillet is a case study in how even estates with virtually no curb appeal can be transformed into fun destinations for wine lovers. When Griet and Hervé Van Malderen-Laviale acquired the property in 2003, the 15-acre vineyard produced a highly acclaimed wine in small, nondescript buildings. Bruno Legrand used a grayand-white color scheme, glass and stainless steel and a lot of imagination to transform the tight space into a luminous, modern winery. The highlight is the tasting room, whose spare but stylish décor and expansive vineyard views invite visitors to linger. chateauvieuxmaillet.com

Architect

Bruno Legrand, 2006

château petit-villaGe

After touring the great Médoc estates, Pomerol vineyards seem positively quaint. They are much smaller and don’t have châteaux, but as Petit-Village so seductively demonstrates, even Pomerol these tiny vineyards can be big on style. AXA Millésimes, which purchased the estate in 1989, invested in the vineyard and then improved the winemaking facilities, giving the place a chic makeover in the process. The new chocolate-colored concrete vats look like something Armani might design, and barrel cellars have black walls and ceilings that contrast smartly with the pale wood of the oak casks. The hip effect is heightened by a thin channel of fluorescent lighting slicing through the ceiling. Visitors can leisurely get to know the wines in the tasting room, with its Corian counter and contemporary ARCHITECT furnishings, then pick up some of their favorite vintages in the boutique. There are Alain Tiraud, also two guest rooms and a salon for special functions. petit-village.com 2005-2007

château pavie

Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru Classé

Parisian supermarket magnate Gérard Perse purchased the premier grand cru Château Pavie in 1998 and immediately set about changing everything from the pruning of the vines to the choice of vats to the décor of the château. While his aesthetic tastes did not run to the contemporary, the new barrel cellar built in 2000 is remarkable in that it incorporates 12 stone arches that were originally part of the Gare Bordeaux Bastide, now a cinema complex. Built in 1853, it was one of the oldest train stations in France and representative of the neoclassical style so popular in Bordeaux. To create the new chai, Bernard Mazières combined these striking ARCHITECT architectural elements with candelabras, modern art and a backlit vaulted Bernard Mazières, 2000 ceiling to create a unique ambiance. chateaupavie.com


BELOW: In a nod to the elegant spires topping Château de Lussac’s turrets, architect Philippe Mazières gave the estate’s vat room a contemporary spire that floods the space below with daylight.

COMING SOON

Château De Lussac Lussac-Saint-Emilion

Belgian couple Griet and Hervé Van Malderen-Laviale bought this estate in 2000. It was their first acquisition A rchitect on the Right Bank, but it Philippe wouldn’t be their last—they Mazières, now own four vineyards 2002 here (two others are described above). With the exception of the minuscule Château Saint Jean de Lavaud in Lalande de Pomerol (it occupies less than three acres), they have restored and refurbished all their properties with an eye to improving the wine and attracting tourists. At Lussac, this involved building a new vat room and barrel cellars. The owners wanted the design to be contemporary but not futuristic; Philippe Mazières responded with plans that combined traditional materials, modern volumes and a touch of whimsy. The vat room, for example, is a high-ceilinged, circular space; above the stainless-steel vats, blond wood beams converge on a central skylight topped by a glass-and-metal spire—a nod to the towers of the adjacent 19th-century château. In the barrel cellars, theatrical curtains, wine-colored walls, formal chandeliers and large gilded mirrors are both a foil for the rooms’ clean, modern lines and a segue to the château’s Second Empire décor. chateaudelussac.fr

If the devil is in the details, Château Lassègue’s new owners intend to grab the devil by the tail. In 2003, Pierre Seillan, who has decades of experience running vineyards in both Bordeaux Château and California, teamed up with Jess Jackson of Jackson Family Lassègue Wines to buy this 60-acre property. First, they had the land thoroughly analyzed and were surprised to discover that there were Saint-Emilion, more than 10 distinct types of soil. This finding led them to take Grand Cru a “micro cru” approach, meaning that grapes from each different type of soil would be vinified separately in a new set of smaller vats, then blended. Rather than build a new cuverie, however, they simply set up the new equipment in the old space, preferring this temporary arrangement until they were sure they had made the right choices. With a few vintages under their belt, they are now ready to have architect Philippe Mazières build new chais behind the estate’s graceful 17th-century chartreuse. “We believe that just as wine should express the terroir and carry a message from the soil, winery architecture should respect the site,” says Seillan’s son Nicolas, who manages the estate. The new winery will therefore be a luminous space that will balance contemporary materials such as stainless steel and glass with classic wood and stone. The new barrel cellar will house what could be called bespoke casks: Jackson has invested in a stave mill in northeastern France, allowing his various properties to source barrels tailor-made to their needs. “Every year, my father visits the state-owned oak forests, working with specialists to select the trees that will be made into our casks,” explains Nicolas. “Just as important, we can take advantage of the mill’s wide range of toasting protocols, again selecting those that best correspond to our wines. We use as many as 10 different ones at Lassègue, including a few developed according to our specifications. It’s very precise, very high-end, but that is our approach across the board.” Work is slated to begin in 2010. chateau-lassegue.com

Château Cheval Blanc Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru Classé

In 1998, luxury conglomerate LVMH and Belgian businessman Albert Frère acquired this legendary vineyard, hiring Pierre Lurton as estate manager (Lurton also manages another LVMH property, Château d’Yquem). Until now, the focus has been on maintaining the stellar quality of this Saint-Emilion premier grand cru (it is Class A, of which there are only two, the other being Château Ausone). Now, the owners are planning a high-profile

renovation, hiring Pritzker prize-winner Christian de Portzamparc, who also designed LVMH’s Manhattan skyscraper, to create new chais and a tasting room. Work is slated to get under way in 2010. chateaucheval-blanc.com

Château Soutard Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru Classé

Purchased in 2006, Soutard is one of five Saint-Emilion vineyards acquired by the insurance group La Mondiale since 1990. Like other owners with deep pockets, La Mondiale

is investing heavily with the hopes of lifting Soutard into the elite ranks of the premiers grands crus classés. Part of the plan involves giving the estate’s winemaking facilities a complete overhaul; Bordeaux architect Fabien Pédelabourde’s design brief is to add modern amenities and design elements while maintaining the estate’s 18th-century spirit. An important aspect of the revamp is the addition of tasting and reception rooms; with its prime location on a hilltop just outside of Saint-Emilion, the estate has tremendous potential as a destination for wine tourists. Work is expected to be completed in summer 2010; in the meantime, construction has wrapped up on Soutard’s charming new Web site. chateausoutard.com

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

59


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Graves

château la lOuvière andré lurTon’s crown jewel

> pESSaC-léoGnan

This past June, 84-year-old André Lurton invited some 400 guests to La Louvière to inaugurate his monumental new barrel cellar. As the ceremonial red ribbon fluttered to the ground, the crowd burst into emotional applause, and more than one onlooker was teary-eyed. Those in attendance knew that this might well be the last great hurrah for Lurton, whose dogged determination has helped him build a portfolio of six châteaux 60

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

BELOW: In June 2009, André Lurton invited friends to an elegant soirée to inaugurate his new red-wine barrel cellar at Château La Louvière. OPPOSITE: The voluminous chai is almost entirely underground, avoiding any aesthetic conflict with the stately 18thcentury château, a national historic monument.

but has also benefited winemakers throughout the region. A leader of numerous professional associations, he notably spent no fewer than 23 years fighting for the creation of the Pessac-Léognan appellation. A member of the famous Lurton wine dynasty (begun by his grandfather, who leveraged his thriving distillery business to buy several vineyards), he inherited Château Bonnet in the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation. Although this gave him a start, his story is very different from those of the moneyed industrialists and multinationals that have recently moved into the area, buying up vineyards and immediately bankrolling multimillion-dollar renovations. Lurton has built his empire brick by brick, investing money only as he made it. “Every time he has acquired a vineyard, he has done everything he can to improve the wine,” says journalist Didier Ters, who is

writing a book on the history of La Louvière. “He has always had a passion for innovation and new technologies.” Among other things, Lurton created a nursery to raise his own rootstocks, founded an oenological research center and was among the first to adopt machines that sort grapes by gauging their sugar density. When Lurton bought La Louvière in 1965, it was in a state of neglect. Bit by bit, he restored the late-18th-century château and progressively overhauled vineyard practices and winemaking techniques. “La Louvière produces great white wines, and while the reds are very good, they have never quite reached the level of the whites,” says Ters. “For years, André has been obsessed with improving them.” This ambition was very much on Lurton’s mind in 2005, when he launched a multi-year


Architect

Jean-Claude Duprat, 2009

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

61


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Graves

Pioneering winemaker André Lurton, owner of La Louvière. BELOW: Château Malartic-Lagravière’s glass-enclosed control room sits above the vats and beneath a web of cast-iron rafters. The estate’s chais, built entirely from scratch in 1999, were the first designed to facilitate the use of gravity at every stage of production.

BELOW LEFT:

château malarticlaGravière

Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé de Graves

ARCHITECT

Bernard Mazières, 1999

frOm a distance, the new cellar is cOmpletely invisible. project calling for a new vat room and barrel cellar for white wines as well as renovated offices, reception rooms, a visitors center, a boutique and other facilities. The revamp would culminate with the construction of an extraordinary chai for aging the estate’s red wines. Lurton went all out, commissioning a vaulted 16,000-square-foot cellar that can hold up to 1,200 casks (800 is typical). The vast concrete structure has two rows of columns supporting three naves, and is almost entirely below ground, with vines planted on top. “This design satisfied the Bâtiments de France officials, who had to authorize our plans, given that the château is a registered national monument,” explains architect Jean-Claude Duprat. “From a distance, the cellar is completely invisible.” This solution also eliminated the need for air conditioning, in keeping with the estate’s eco-friendly practices. But just in case Bordeaux experiences another heat wave like the one in 2003, Duprat installed a system of pipes snaking through the ceiling, making it possible to cool the room by circulating cold water. Since October, the 2009 vintage has been aging quietly in this grand new cellar, marking the official end of the renovations. La Louvière is now a magnificent showcase for the principles that have guided Lurton’s life’s work: the protection of Bordeaux’s historic heritage and the relentless pursuit of quality. andrelurton.com 62

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

When Malartic-Lagravière unveiled its new chais in 1998, they were hailed as the epitome of winery design. As recently as 2005, an Australian journalist noted, “Not even the Taj Mahals of the Napa Valley, let alone elsewhere in Bordeaux, compare with Château MalarticLagravière.” The new buildings were part of an expansive overhaul launched after Belgian couple Alfred-Alexandre and Michèle Bonnie purchased the estate in 1996 (it is now run by their son, Jean-Jacques, and his wife, Séverine). Within a few short years, they more than doubled the vineyard area, implemented new viticultural techniques, renovated the château and created new reception rooms. They wanted their new winery to incorporate what were then the most avant-garde winemaking techniques, including

extremely rigorous berry selection, vinification by parcel and vats selected in function of the characteristics of the wine. The most radical initiative was the decision to use only gravity—no pumps— throughout the entire vinification process. “Malartic-Lagravière was the first to design a winery around this concept,” says Bernard Mazières. “We took advantage of the natural slope of the land to create a vertical organization, with harvested grapes entering the building at ground level, which was also the level of the tops of the fermentation vats in the next room. So they could just be wheeled over and dumped in.” Also integral to this process are small, custommade stainless-steel containers outfitted with three legs and rollers; these little “sputniks” are filled with the fermenting juice that

is poured out from the bottom of the vat, then hoisted using a pulley system up to the top of the vat, where the juice is poured back over the cap, thus avoiding the need to pump over. Mazières gave the vat room a suitably futuristic design, opting for an octagonal shape to house the circular arrangements of vats. A glass-encased control room in the center of the room sits on a mezzanine; there are so many dials and buttons that you begin to think those little sputniks just might take off into outer space after all. Walls the color of wine lees provide a rich backdrop for the stainless-steel vats, and a web of metal rafters pays homage to traditional winery architecture. Next door, a glasswalled, centrally located tasting room allows visitors to take in the cuverie, the vineyard and the barrel cellar all at once. There are already plans to renovate the latter. “The owners are passionate about this estate,” says cellar manager Philippe Garcia. “And when you’re that passionate, you just can’t resist the urge to always go further.” malarticlagraviere.com


BELOW: Last year, Château Smith Haut Lafitte got a fresh dash of design with this new

underground bottle cellar. Guests enter through a stairway hidden in the floor of the more traditional tasting room above. BOTTOM: Visitors standing on the glass-walled mezzanine can take in the vast barrel cellar at Château de Rochemorin.

Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé de Graves

Smith Haut Lafitte is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing—in a good way. Everything here fairly oozes charm and bucolic bliss, but behind the sweet half-timbered façades are the same laser-sharp focus and competitive spirit that earned owners Daniel and Florence Cathiard spots on the French Olympic ski team and propelled them to success in the business world. They simply have not let up since they bought the property in 1990. Early on, they tackled the vineyards, eventually reorganizing and replanting some 30 percent of their estate, adopting new viticultural techniques and instituting sustainable methods that range from making their own compost to setting up their own weather station to using horses instead of plows. They also overhauled the dilapidated chais, building a new white-wine cellar, replacing the old stainless-steel vats with smaller wood cuves, creating reception rooms and updating other facilities. In 1995, they even installed their own private cooperage, one of only three in the region (the others are at Château Lafite and Château Margaux). Meanwhile they lovingly restored the property’s 18th-century chartreuse, and in 1999, became the

only Bordeaux vineyard to feature a luxury hotel and spa. Les A rchitect Sources de CauYves Collet, dalie showcases 1993-2009 a skin-care line derived from grape seeds that was developed by their daughter Mathilde (their other daughter, Alice, runs this and other family-owned hotels). Nearly two decades on, the breathless pace continues. During the past two years alone, they have added the latest-generation wine press, adopted satellite-guided harvesting and installed a new optical sorter. You can see the latter in action in a video on Smith

Haut Lafitte’s new Web site; Daniel Cathiard laughingly comments that it costs as much as a Ferrari but isn’t even red. It does, however, select only berries that are perfectly ripe and round, and he is confident that it will make his wines even better. Next year’s harvest will also benefit from the latest in de-stemming technology, based on equipment used for delicate raspberries. But when it comes to cool, the new tasting room wins hands down. Built to resemble an orangery that once stood on the estate, it is a comfortable space with leather Chesterfield armchairs, an antique armoire and urn-shaped spittoons with foot-activated rinsing devices.

It’s lovely, but “lovely” becomes “wow!” at the press of a button. Suddenly, the center of the wood floor opens, revealing a stylish entrance to the bottle cellar, a.k.a. Le Paradis. “This estate goes back to the 15th century, and when working with architect Yves Collet on various projects, we have tried to honor that past,” explains Florence Cathiard. “But this new cellar is underground, so here, we were finally free to explore the latest in contemporary design.” A large, back-lit wall features a super-enlarged image of grapes, providing clever lighting for a clean, architectural display of wines dating back some 130 years. Just the kind of paradise wine aficionados pray for. smith-haut-lafitte.com

Rochemorin offered André Lurton an opportunity that is rare in Bordeaux: the possibility of building entirely new, freestanding chais so distant from the estate’s historic château that the architect could have total stylistic freedom. The result is Pessac-Léognan a contemporary, New World-style winery conceived with visitors in mind. An airy tasting room overlooks a theatrical barrel cellar with an arched, blond-wood ceiling that picks up on the color of the oak casks neatly stacked below. The buildings’ most distinctive feature is a central spire enclosing a staircase that leads to a panoramic terrace with sweeping views of the Bordeaux landscape; on a clear day, you can even see the Pont d’Aquitaine, about 15 miles to the north. “There are a lot A rchitect of church steeples in this area,” says architect Jean-Claude Duprat. “This was my way of referJean-Claude encing those spires and making Rochemorin a local landmark.” andrelurton.com Duprat, 2003

Château de Rochemorin

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

63


ExtrEME EStAtES / BordEAux

Graves

château haut-selve Graves

As a young man, Jean-Jacques Lesgourgues reluctantly abandoned his dreams of becoming an artist to go into business, but he fed his passion by becoming an avid collector. Now retired, he owns some 800 late-20th-century works, many of which he commissioned. It is not surprising then that when Lesgourgues built a winery, it would be about as similar to traditional Bordeaux chais as a César is to a Fragonard. Haut-Selve is one of several vineyards that belong to the LEDA group, now run by Lesgourgues’s son Arnaud. It is unique in that it is the only Bordeaux vineyard created from scratch in the 20th century. Vines were planted in 1992, and the

Architect

sylvain Dubuisson, 1996

64

F r a n ce • w i n t er 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

BELOW: Château Haut-Selve has forged a new path in Bordeaux architecture. Owner Arnaud Lesgourgues began by asking renowned designer Sylvain Dubuisson to create a winery unlike any other; his asymmetrical design now provides a provocative backdrop for site-specific sculptures commissioned by Lesgourgues, an art patron and collector. Shown here are “Castor” and “Pollux” by Spanish sculptor Juan Bordès.

first harvest took place in 1996. The grapes were vinified in an arresting new facility conceived by Sylvain Dubuisson, a French design star who has dreamed up everything from the rippling gold façade of the Cartier boutique in Tokyo to edgy furniture and tableware. “We didn’t want the monumentality and symmetry that is so typical of 18th-century Bordeaux,” explains Lesgourgues. “That look was meant to assert authority, and we no longer live in an era of lords and peasants. But we did want to include contemporary references to tradition.” Dubuisson obliged with a lowslung building covered with panels made of polished pink concrete “the color of wine lees.” The surface is scored to give the illusion of blocks, a nod to the stone used to build Bordeaux. The vat room features spiral metal staircases (a Dubuisson trademark), and the barrel cellar is coiffed by an oak ceiling

that evokes wine casks yet has an angular, rather Cubist design. Dubuisson also designed all the furnishings for the tasting room, including an amusing visoire that reveals the full spectrum of colors in any glass of wine. Artist and architect Vincent Barré collaborated on the project, contributing the winery’s outsized doors as well as the vineyard’s portail, or entry gate, a typical feature of the region’s great châteaux. Here, he gave it a thoroughly modern interpretation, respecting the traditional wrought iron and imposing dimensions yet creating a work of almost veil-like lightness. Like all the LEDA properties, Haut-Selve has given Lesgourgues an opportunity to continue his support for the arts by commissioning site-specific works. Artists are typically invited to spend time at the vineyard, getting a sense of place that they then express in their art.

At Haut-Selve, this includes busts representing the five senses, and the massive, muscular sculptures of Castor and Pollux (sons of the mythological Leda) flanking the winery entrance. Both are by Spanish sculptor Juan Bordès. French artist Yves Guérin, meanwhile, was inspired by the earth of the vineyards to create stainless-steel sculptures celebrating wind, fire and water. He also contributed a work that is a tribute to Giacometti’s “The Glade,” setting it amid the 15-acre park that Lesgourgues has planted with 6,000 trees—his other lifelong passion. vignobles-lesgourgues.com


BELOW: Château La Mission Haut-Brion played up its monastic history when designing its new barrel cellar, tasting room and cloister-inspired entrance. BOTTOM: Domaine de Che-

valier sits like a grand ocean liner amid a vast sea of vines; the château (located on the left side) blends seamlessly into the artfully disguised vat room and cellars on the right.

nologies have led to progressive upgrades of facilities, the most recent project being the construction of La Mission’s new barrel cellar. The design choice was obvious: The château would play up its unique history as home to the Lazarist Fathers, who owned the vineyard in the 17th century and doubtless

were at the origin of its name. The Gothic chapel the priests built in 1698 still stands on the property. Estate manager Jean-Philippe Delmas supplied the technical brief, which called for the very latest in temperature and humidity control equipment, and owner HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg collaborated

on aesthetic direction. Guy Troprès then riffed on the monastic theme, creating a solemn space with a vaulted ceiling supported by pillars sculpted out of Frontenac stone—the same material used for Bordeaux’s handsome collection of 18th-century buildings, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. At one end is a raised platform with carved, dark-oak pews; as visitors gaze down on the 11,000-square-foot space, soft lighting progressively illuminates the rows of barrels, setting a reverential mood. The same décor is carried over into the adjacent tasting room, where wrought-iron chairs with a Gothic-arch motif are set around an austere wood table. Outside, a “cloister” doubles as welcome area for guests. Its arched-stone walkway surrounds a square garden with plantings arranged in the shape of a heraldic crosslet cross—the estate’s distinctive logo. haut-brion.com

harvesting only in the morning, because like all fruits and vegetables, grapes are at their best at that time of day. Manager Rémi Edange likes to say that the picked berries are like tiny hard drives; everything is recorded within—the amount of sun and rain, how deeply the roots reached into the ground, the makeup of the soil. And he prides himself on his ability to read this information, adapting every step of the vinification process to best suit the fruit from each plot and sub-plot. In the 1980s, Bernard began to enlarge the vineyards, adding plots that yield grapes with different characteristics, thus adding new notes to the composition of Chevalier’s

blended wines. The acreage more than doubled, prompting a need for larger winemaking facilities. Inaugurated in 1991, the new chais adjoin the 19th-century residence just as the old ones did. But they are completely different, both inside and out. The vat room, for example, is circular and flooded with light from a skylight; this design vastly improved efficiency and made working conditions much more pleasant. The architect cleverly integrated its curved walls into the new façade, creating the effect of a stately rotunda. Indeed, nothing about the handsome exterior even hints that these are in fact winemaking facilities. The new

buildings are contemporary in style but are the A rchitect same color and Hugues Legrix de la Salle, 1991 height as the residence, creating a transition that is smooth and effortless to the eye. Now, the estate is once again planning to enlarge its winery. “As always, it will be respectful of the past, suited to our current needs and flexible enough to accommodate future evolutions,” says Edange. “Here at Chevalier, we like to say that we were given this unique vineyard, and that it is our duty to make it better and then to pass it on.” domainedechevalier.com

Château La Mission Haut-Brion

Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé de Graves

What becomes a legend most? For Domaine Clarence Dillon, the answer would seem to be a carefully preserved mystique combined with a relentless pursuit of excellence. The company owns both Château Haut-Brion (since 1935) and Château La Mission Haut-Brion (since 1983), neighboring estates that boast centuries of illustrious history. Haut-Brion has been credited with being the first to bottle wines at the château and the first to install stainless-steel vats, milestones that are emblematic of the innovative spirit that it shares with La Mission. Advances in winemaking tech-

Domaine de Chevalier

Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé de Graves

Since 1864, only two families have owned Domaine de Chevalier, and Olivier Bernard, who purchased the vineyard in 1983, is proud of the continuity that has characterized the estate’s wines over the years. Yet while there have been no radical revolutions, there has been steady change, with winemakers constantly examining and re-examining every detail of operations. This is the kind of estate that will go to the trouble and expense of

Architect

Guy Troprès, 2007

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 - 1 0

65


Calendrier French Cultural Events in North America

January-March 2010

• A preparatory drawing for the fabulous “Bib Necklace” (1947), which was adorned with diamonds, amethysts and turquoise.

The dazzling appearance and conspicuous expense of fine jewelry can obscure the handcraftsmanship involved in its creation; consider simply that it takes a decade to master the skill of polishing stones. Works of art in their own right, intricate gouache drawings such as this one—among a trove of preparatory works found in the Cartier archives—reflect the artistry behind haute joaillerie. Both the drawing and the “Bib Necklace” itself, given to the Duchess of Windsor by her husband in 1947, appear in C artier and A merica . Through some 200 objects, the show traces the history of the jeweler from its Belle Epoque rise to fame on through the modern era, with an emphasis on its American clientele. Other highlights include a pair of rock crystal and diamond bracelets worn by Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard and Princess Grace of Monaco’s engagement ring, featuring a 10.47-carat diamond. Through April 18 at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor; famsf.org.

66

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

© Ca r t i e r / A r c h i v es

season highlights


exhibits

19th- and early 20th-century Western art, from romantic naturalism to PostImpressionism. The pieces on display were among 260 donated to the museum by the Welsh heiresses Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, who between 1908 and 1923 amassed the largest collection of French Impressionist and PostImpressionist art in Great Britain. Jan. 30 through April 25 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; corcoran.edu.

Washington,DC Washington, DC RENAISSANCE TO REVOLUTION

Renaissance to Revolution: French Drawings from the National Gallery of Art, 1500–1800 serves as a Who’s Who of three centuries’ worth of French artists and their foreign contemporaries working in France, including Benvenuto Cellini, Jacques Callot, François Boucher and Jacques-Louis David. The cream of the institution’s renowned collection of French Old Master drawings, the 120 pieces on view—many significant recent acquisitions—have never before been assembled for display. Through Jan. 31 at the National Gallery of Art; nga.gov.

Philadelphia PICASSO IN PARIS

Bringing together more than 100 paintings, sculptures and works on paper, Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris surveys the artist’s output from 1905 to 1945, a particularly fruitful chapter in his long and prolific career. The show traces his creative trajectory from his early experiments with abstraction to his Cubist period to his take on Surrealism and other movements. Pieces by such contemporaries as Chagall, Man Ray and other School of Paris artists further illustrate the French capital’s vital role in the history of modern art. Feb. 24 through April 25 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; philamuseum.org.

St. Louis TREASURES OF NAPOLÉON

Treasures of Napoléon revisits the life and times of le petit caporal through more than 250 historical artifacts and works of fine and decorative art. Iconic portraits by such celebrated artists as David and Houdon are joined by intimate personal items that offer a glimpse of the man behind the myth—a letter he wrote at age 14, the lotto game he played with his wives and clothing he wore in exile on St. Helena. Through Feb. 13 at the Missouri History Museum; mohistory.org.

Memphis

Los Angeles LATE RENOIR

Mary Cassatt’s “The Loge” (1882) is a highlight of the Chester Dale Collection, on view in Washington, DC.

MONET TO MATISSE

Monet to Matisse: French Masterworks from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens displays 30 late-19th- and early 20th-century paintings and pastels in a variety of genres, from portraiture to still life to landscape. Degas, Renoir, Gauguin, Cézanne and many other luminaries of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements are represented. Jan. 31 through April 4 at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens; dixon.org.

Columbus

C h e s t e r Da l e C o l l ec t i o n

CYPRIEN GAILLARD

Born in Paris in 1980, Cyprien Gaillard recently landed the 10th spot on Flash Art magazine’s list of the world’s top 100 emerging artists. A recurring theme of his work is the “unauthorized ruin”—the landscape-blighting high-rise as historical artifact. His first solo museum show in the U.S. is a selection of films and photographs titled Cyprien Gaillard: Disquieting Landscapes; its centerpiece is the 30-minute video montage “Desniansky Raion” (2007), which combines scenes of a massive gang fight in suburban St. Petersburg, the festive demolition of a Paris housing project and illegally captured aerial views of a Kiev apartment complex. Jan. 30 through April 11 at the Wexner Center for the Arts; wexarts.org.

New York MONET’S WATER LILIES

Celebrating some of the most internationally beloved works in its collection, the Museum of Modern Art presents Monet’s Water Lilies. The show brings together MoMA’s complete holdings from the artist’s late period, during which he devoted himself to painting the gardens of his home in Giverny. A highlight of these highlights is the iconic 42-foot-wide triptych “Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond.” Through April 12 at the Museum of Modern Art; moma.org.

New York CHRONOTOPES & DIORAMAS

Dia at the Hispanic Society presents chronotopes & dioramas, the first major U.S. solo exhibition for Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, one of the leading French figures on the international contemporary art scene. The site-specific installation complements the Hispanic Society of America’s impressive research library, which contains the most extensive manuscript collection of its kind outside Spain but more limited contemporary holdings. Gonzalez-Foerster’s 40-foot-wide “annex” displays the books of some 40 20th-century authors as

“indigenous inhabitants” of three different terrains rendered in natural historystyle dioramas. Through April 18 at the Hispanic Society of America; diaart.org/ hindex.html.

Tampa MATISSE PRINTS

The main inaugural exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art’s new facility, A Celebration of Henry Matisse: Master of Line and Light unites some 150 works spanning five decades and representing every technique the artist employed, from lithography to linocut. The show explores the importance of serial imagery in Matisse’s work by highlighting such recurring motifs as the reclining nude. A complementary selection of paintings and sculptures illustrates how thoroughly the artist integrated his thematic interests into every medium he embraced. Feb. 6 through April 18 at the Tampa Museum of Art; tampamuseum.org.

Washington,DC Washington, DC TURNER TO CÉZANNE

Through more than 50 paintings and works on paper, Turner to Cézanne: Masterpieces from the Davies Collection, National Museum Wales offers an overview of the major movements of

Although identified with Impressionism, Renoir traveled far afield of that movement in the final decades of his life, drawing inspiration from Titian, Rubens and other Old Masters. Renoir in the 20th Century showcases 80 paintings, sculptures and drawings from this lesser known period of his career, when he continued his prolific output despite the crippling effects of rheumatoid arthritis. Illustrating how Renoir’s marriage of tradition and innovation influenced the next generation of artists, the show incorporates pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard and others. (See related story, page 24.) Feb. 14 through May 9 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; lacma.org.

Dallas THE LENS OF IMPRESSIONISM

Thanks in part to the expansion of the railway, the fishing villages of Normandy metamorphosed into fashionable resorts during the 19th century, providing ample inspiration both for painters and for practitioners of the burgeoning art of photography. Exploring the dynamic between these two forms of creative expression, The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874 combines vintage prints by Le Gray, Le Secq and others with oils, watercolors and pastels by such masters as Monet, Manet and Courbet. Feb. 21 through May 23 at the Dallas Museum of Art; dallasmuseumofart.org. F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

67


CÉZANNE AND AMERICAN MODERNISM

The first show to delve deeply into the subject, Cézanne and American Modernism opens with a selection of the paintings and works on paper through which American artists at home and abroad first became acquainted with the French master, along with archival materials documenting the landmark exhibitions involved. What follows is a testament to Cézanne’s profound influence—stylistic, philosophical and thematic—on American artists from 1907 to 1930, with pieces by Marsden Hartley, Man Ray, Arshile Gorky and some 30 others. Feb. 14 through May 23 at the Baltimore Museum of Art; artbma.org.

art. The exhibition offers insight into the art of collecting art by examining how so many outstanding pieces came into the possession of Wall Street mogul Dale and his artist and critic wife. Highlights include Renoir’s “A Girl with a Watering Can,” Picasso’s “A Family of Saltimbanques” and two of Monet’s views of Rouen Cathedral. Jan. 31 through July 31, 2011, at the National Gallery of Art; nga.gov.

and memory. Originally associated with the French New Wave, he is still making films at age 87, most recently Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, 2009). This winter’s Alain Resnais Retrospective screens newly restored prints of a dozen of his pictures, among them L’Année dernière à Marienbad (1961) and Mon Oncle d’Amérique (1980). Jan. 7 through 27 at the Wexner Center for the Arts; wexarts.org.

Washington,DC, Washington, DC, and New York ARMIDE

Washington,DC Washington, DC SÈVRES PORCELAIN

The Sèvres porcelain factory has sustained both its relevance and its reputation for excellence for two and a half centuries by astutely combining the old and the new, eschewing modern methods of production yet keeping step with stylistic movements such as Art Nouveau and Art Deco. In the first U.S. retrospective of its kind, Sèvres Then and Now: Tradition and Innovation in Porcelain, 1750–2000 brings together some 90 pieces ranging from an elaborately staged 18th-century dessert service to biomorphic ceramics designed by Jean Arp. Through May 30 at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens; hillwoodmuseum.org.

RIOULT performs “Bolero” at New York’s Joyce Theater this winter.

Boston TOULOUSE-LAUTREC’S PARIS

The graphic arts flourished in fin-desiècle Paris as prosperity spawned advertising and artists explored new means of exercising their livelihood and reaching a broader public. No figure epitomized the era more than ToulouseLautrec, who elevated the poster to an art form with his genius for caricature, fluid line and bold use of color. A selection of his vivid images of the denizens of Montmartre’s night spots—himself often included—is on view in Café and Cabaret: Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris, which also features works by such contemporaries as Bonnard, Picasso and Vuillard. Through Aug. 8 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; mfa.org.

Washington, DC FROM IMPRESSIONISM TO MODERNISM

From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection showcases 84 French and American masterworks from a 1962 bequest that positioned the National Gallery of Art as a treasury of late-19th- and early 20th-century French

68

F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

performing arts New York RIOULT

A former principal with the Martha Graham Dance Company, French dancer and choreographer Pascal Rioult founded his namesake troupe in New York in 1994. This winter, RIOULT brings two programs to its home-town audience. The first features the world premiere of an interpretation of Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier,” in which four dancers interact with animated projections of themselves; Harvest, a tribute to the 19th-century realist painter Jean-François Millet; and Bolero, a 16-minute take on Ravel’s famous piece. The second program consists solely of The Great Mass, set to Mozart's “Mass in C Minor.” Jan. 19 through 24 at The Joyce Theater; joyce.org.

Columbus RESNAIS RETROSPECTIVE

A pioneer of modernist narrative cinema, director Alain Resnais is known for his highly stylized explorations of time

The period instrument ensemble Opéra Lafayette and the New York Baroque Dance Company team up to perform Gluck’s Armide (1777), for which the composer recycled a libretto used by Lully nearly a century earlier. Derived from Tasso’s epic poem of the First Crusade, “Jerusalem Delivered,” the piece tells the tale of a sorcerous niece of the King of Damascus who falls in love with a Christian knight. With Dominique Labelle in the title role and William Burden as her beloved Renaud. Feb. 1 at the Kennedy Center and Feb. 3 at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater; operalafayette.org.

another mind-bender from Michel Gondry, also director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Tuesdays from Jan. 12 through Feb. 23 at Florence Gould Hall; fiaf.org.

North American Tour QUATUOR ÉBÈNE

Embracing both contemporary works and the classical canon, the Quatuor Ebène (also known as the Ebène Quartet) has a penchant for improvisation and frequently turns to jazz for its encores. The string quartet tours North America this February, playing pieces by Debussy, Fauré, Ravel and others. Feb. 5 through 23; for a complete schedule, visit instantencore.com.

U.S. Tour LYON OPERA BALLET

The Lyon Opera Ballet makes its 20th visit to the United States, performing works by some of the leading choreographers of our time on a five-city tour. The selections include Trisha Brown’s Set and Reset/Reset, with music by Laurie Anderson, and Maguy Marin’s Grosse Fugue, inspired by Beethoven’s “Great Fugue.” The troupe’s New York appearance will feature the American premiere of a commission by Ralph Lemon, whose eclectic oeuvre encompasses not only dance but also the written and visual arts. Feb. 23 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR; Feb. 26 and 27 at Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley; March 2 at the Mondavi Center, UC Davis; March 5 and 6 at NOCCA/Riverfront Lupin Hall, New Orleans, LA; and March 9 through 14 at The Joyce Theater, NYC; opera-lyon.com.

U.S. Tour PARIS PIANO TRIO

Chicago

Each a successful soloist in his own right, violinist Régis Pasquier, cellist Roland Pidoux and pianist Jean-Claude Pennetier regularly make music together as the acclaimed Paris Piano Trio. This winter, the ensemble tours the U.S. with a program of works by Chopin, Brahms, Rachmaninov and others. Feb. 16 through 21; for complete details, visit instantencore.com.

LA DAMNATION DE FAUST

New York CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG

Charlotte Gainsbourg has long since emerged from the shadow of her celebrity parents, most recently garnering a best actress award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for her role in Lars von Trier’s controversial Antichrist. The French Institute/Alliance Française’s tribute to Charlotte Gainsbourg celebrates her work on screen with a lineup that includes La Bûche (1999), a dysfunctional-family-at-the-holidays comedy, and La Science des rêves (2006),

Composed for vocal soloists, chorus and large orchestra, Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust has been presented mostly in concert form since it premiered at Paris’s Opéra-Comique in 1846. Skipping about through time and space, and populated with soldiers, peasants, angels, gnomes and numerous other earthly and otherworldly figures, the piece poses no small challenge to those wishing to bring it to operatic life. This winter, Lyric Opera of Chicago gives it a full dramatic staging in true 21st-century style, complete with computer-generated animation. Starring Susan Graham as Marguerite, Paul Groves as Faust and John Relyea as Méphistophélès. Feb. 20 through March 17 at Civic Opera House; lyricopera.org. —Tracy Kendrick For a regularly updated listing of cultural events, go to francemagazine.org.

Basil Childers

Baltimore


Sophie Digard Scarves

tel. 888.575.2678

www.thefrenchneedle.com statement of ownership, management and circulation

(1)

title: france magazine

• (2) publication number: 0886-2478 • (3) filing 09/30/2009 • (4) frequency: quarterly • (5) number of issues published annually: 4 • (6) annual subscription price: $23.80 • (7) address: 4101 reservoir road, nw, washington, dc 20007-2182 • (8) headquarters: 4101 reservoir road, nw, washington, dc 20007-2182 • (9) publisher: emmanuel lenain, 4101 reservoir road, nw, washington, dc 20007-2182; editor: karen taylor, 4101 reservoir road, nw, washington, dc 20007-2182; managing editor: karen taylor, 4101 reservoir road, nw, washington, dc 20007-2182 • (10) owner: french-american cultural foundation, 1700 k street, nw, suite 300, washington, dc 20006-2365 • (11) known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders: none • (12) tax status has not changed during preceding 12 months • (13) publication title: france magazine • (14) issue date for circulation data: fall 2009 • (15) extent and nature of circulation: average no. of copies issued during preceding 12 months/no. copies of single issue published nearest to filing date • (15a) total number of copies: 37,281/35,025 • (15b) paid and or requested circulation: (1) paid/requested outside-county mail subscriptions: 3,758/3,659; (3) sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales, and other non-usps paid distribution: 28,626/28,020; (4) other classes mailed through usps: 84/74 • (15c) total paid and/or requested circulation: 32,468/31,753 • (15e) total free distribution: (1) outside-county: 798/1,167; (3) free mailed at other classes through usps: 197/205; (4) free outside the mail: 1,263/1,363 • (15e) total free distribution by mail: 2,258/2,735 • (15f) total free distribution: 34,726/34,488 • (15g) copies not distributed: 476/216 • (15h) total distribution: 35,202/34,704 • (15i) percent paid and/or requested circulation: 92.23%/91.49%. date:


Paris Holiday Flats

Experience Paris like a Parisian!

Email: Porter@ILoveParisApartments.com U.S. Phone: (843) 340-3276 www.ILoveParisApartments.com Mention this ad for your free uniquely Parisian gift.

oh the sites you’ll see! discoverfrance.com .

airfrance.com .

thinkparis.com .

. bonjourparis.com

americansinfrance.net .

wine-tours-france.com .

secretsofparis.com .

theparisblog.com .

paris-expat.com .

elegantcooking.com .

frenchfilm.vcu.edu . .

relaisetchateaux.com .

tourisme.fr .

sncf.com .

parisinfo.com . culture.fr .

lemonde.fr .

frenchamerican.org .

letscookfrench.com .

provencebeyond.com .

parisapts.com .

ambafrance-us.org .

WWW parisbreakfasts.blogspot.com . .

Visit francemagazine.org

for links to dozens of Web sites and blogs, all devoted to la belle France.

3932

Most desirable locations in the heart of Paris. Outstanding service. Exceptional decors. Internet, Cable TV.


Temps Modernes

Black and Light by MICHEL FAURE

idea. This would remain true throughout his long, solitary and original white skirt that she bought at a vintage-clothing boutique in London. artistic career. He has never formulated any kind of abstruse discourse I love it and call it her jupe Soulages. I like walking a few paces behind about his work or associated it with any other movements. He has no her when she wears it so that I can watch the fabric sway back and message. Attempting to explain the unexplainable—abstraction— forth. It’s full of rock’n’roll energy—the kind of skirt that makes he simply says that he doesn’t “portray,” he “paints.” Most especially, you want to dance. One day she wore it with black stockings, and he paints for himself rather than others. This is quite clear to him, it was a real pleasure to see those flashes of black and white swirl although he acknowledges that his paintings are made to be seen. around the metronome of her legs. Everything about her outfit was A rather wonderful thing about Soulages is that his individextraordinarily luminous, joyful and elegant. ualism achieves universality. Off in his own corner exploring Thanks both to that charming skirt and to Hans Hartung, a black, he was warned by Picabia, among others, that he would painter I deeply admire, I already make enemies. But he knew how luminous black could be couldn’t have cared even before going to see the wonderful less. He continued to Pierre Soulages exhibit at the Pompiplay with darkness and dou Center. Soulages spent decades ignore artistic trends… investigating and finally mastering the and finally the trends luminosity that surges from the darkcaught up with him (“I ness. Even as a young boy, he liked love all colors, as long to play with the contrasts between as they’re black,” Karl black and white: Drawing a snowy Lagerfeld once said). field with an ink-soaked paintbrush Now, at age 90, he is on a piece of white paper, he intuited the most famous livquite correctly that the black would ing French painter— make the white of the paper look an unassuming, hardeven whiter still. It took him three working Aveyronnais decades of work, occasional setbacks whose canvases were and experiments with paint as well as collected by Nelson ink, tar and walnut stain to master this Rockefeller and are extraordinary aesthetic paradox—this • Pierre Soulages poses next to one of his works at the Pompidou Center. found in all the world’s “black and light” that has been the great museums. He lifelong focus of his work and an endless source of discovery. has always insisted on forging his own path, and today everyone Not only does black emit light, but it absorbs and reflects light in recognizes its value. such a manner that it changes the way color is perceived. Soulages calls Indeed, Soulages’s obsession with black has long been in tune this chromatic phenomenon outre-noir, “beyond black,” the way the with the zeitgeist. His lifelong exploration of the darkest end of the expression outre-mer used to conjure up undiscovered lands beyond chromatic spectrum has been well suited to a century hardly illuthe sea. His canvases beckon viewers to experience an inner dream or minated by the Enlightenment spirit. His artistic experiments have silent meditation as they observe the magical luminosity that wells up been radical, reflecting the rigors of the time. And when he finally from the darkness. finds a glimmer of light among the shadows, when he offers it to I find there’s something very French about Soulages, not just us with infinite delicacy, we know, as does Soulages, that it is a frail personally but in the essence of his work. Although he stands straight and flickering thing, like a little flame that could be extinguished at as an arrow and his gaze is as dark and luminous as his canvases, the any moment. He is a painter of hope in desolate times, a meditative painter just celebrated his 90th birthday. Born in the austere, land- painter who invites us to feel at peace, even in the darkest of days. locked Aveyron region shortly after World War I, he was curious about He tells the truth and grants us solace, giving night the hopefulness archeology and prehistory, but apart from the Romanesque art of the of day and offering us a glimpse of happiness whenever an attractive local medieval churches, he wasn’t exposed to any outside artistic influ- woman wears a pretty skirt that makes us want to dance with her on f ences. His love of painting was innate and reference-free. the edge of the abyss. Already as a young boy, Soulages preferred to dip his brush into “Pierre Soulages” is on view through March 8 at the Pompidou Center; an inkpot, even though he had a set of watercolors. Why? He has no centrepompidou.fr. 72 F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 9 -1 0

A P P h o t o / R e m y d e l a Ma u v i n i È r e

My wife, who has nice legs, has a black-and-



France Magazine #92 - Winter 2009-10