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the best of culture, tr avel & art de vivre

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

No.88

COGNAC’S New Spirit

Grasse’s PERFUME Museum

BONNARD’S Interiors


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

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Winter 2008-09 features 22 Grasse A revamped perfume museum offers visitors fresh insight into the seductive world of fragrance by Amy Serafin

32 Bonnard’s Interiors A new exhibit at the Met highlights an intriguing aspect of the enigmatic artist’s work by Sara Romano

42 Cognac’s New Spirit The noblest of brandies has become the star of some of the world’s trendiest night spots by Nicholas Faith

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

20 Délices & Saveurs Le Saugeais by Alexandre Kauffmann

54 Calendrier French Cultural Events in North America by Tracy Kendrick

60 Evénement Vintage Bordeaux Gala

64 Temps Modernes Strange Bedfellows?

J . P. G a b r i e l

by Michel Faure

• One of Isabelle de Borch-

grave’s hand-crafted paper dresses, a tribute to couturier Mariano Fortuny; see page 8.


Dear Readers, First the good news: Since July, the dollar has gained significantly

France magazine

with respect to the euro, considerably lowering the cost of travel in France. As for the bad news, I don’t need to tell you about the world’s financial and economic woes—like us, you read about them daily and may have personally experienced investment losses or even job losses. and perfume may seem a bit out of touch. Yet one of the benefits of reading about these centuries-old luxury industries is that they give us perspective on our current hardships—and offer reason for optimism. In the 1870s, Cognac was brought to its knees by the phylloxera epidemic; a century later,

(c. 1940), one of the stunning Pierre Bonnard still lifes on view this spring at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Story page 32.

Senior Editor/Web Editor Melissa Omerberg

Associate Editor

RACHEL BEAMER

In such an environment, our features on Cognac

A detail from “Basket of Fruit: •Oranges and Persimmons”

Editor

Karen Taylor

economic evolutions led to painful restructuring. Similarly, Grasse’s perfume industry has weathered setbacks ranging from the French Revolution to world wars to the 1970s recession. But they have

nonetheless endured, often emerging from crises stronger than before. People we spoke with in both industries are confident that they will survive this latest challenge as well. And perhaps now that consumers are being forced to take a breath, to give careful consideration to their purchases, they will also take a bit more time to appreciate the centuries of experience and painstaking attention to quality that goes into perfume, Cognac and other luxury goods—to see them more as the ultimate in craftsmanship and refinement and less as status symbols. Another possible benefit of spending less time in the malls? More time for museums. As we have said before, we think culture is always the biggest bargain

Copy Editor

lisa olson

Proofreader

steve moyer

Art Director

todd albertson

Production Manager Associate Art Director/Webmaster patrick nazer

Special Events Associate MEREDITH DAVIS

Contributors Nicholas Faith, a

prominent British journalist and leading Cognac expert, has written articles and books on a variety of subjects, including finance, railways and Cognac • MIchel faure, now retired from L’Express, is pursuing a variety of journalistic ventures • Alexandre Kauffmann is a Paris-based author and journalist; his latest book, J'aimais déjà les étrangères, will be published in March 2009 • TRACY KENDRICK is a freelance journalist who often writes about French culture • Sara romano covers French cultural topics for a number of publications • AMY SERAFIN, formerly editor of WHERE Paris, is a Paris-based freelance journalist who has contributed to The New York Times, National Public Radio, Departures and other media. 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.

around. Just think: For $20, visitors to the Metropolitan will soon be able to France Magazine is published by the

is enough to revive your soul. An entire exhibition is, well, priceless.

French-American Cultural Foundation,

Karen Taylor

Editor

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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

pr i v a te c o llect i o n

linger in rooms full of color-drenched works by Pierre Bonnard. A single canvas


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Now that’s rich Photo credits

Grasse pp. 22-23: pp.

26-27:

© jacques guillard / scope ; pp.

24-25:

© musée international de la parfumerie / mip grasse ;

© michael freeman /corbis, stéphane danna /getty images ; pp.

© gail mooney/ corbis, © deidi van schaven ; pp.

30-31:

28-29:

© julio donoso /corbis sygma ,

courtesy of memo, rosine, l’artisan parfumeur, albert

giordan, © ling fei.

Bonnard’s Interiors pp. 32-33:

©acquavella galleries, inc.; pp.

34-35: ©albert harlingue /roger-viollet, ©the 36-37: ©bill orcutt and ilonka van der putten, new york ; private collection, private collection, © rmn /jean - gilles berizzi ; pp. 38-39: © robert lorenzson, collection art gallery of new south wales - sydney; pp. 40-41: © musée de grenoble. Cognac’s New Spirit pp. 42-43: ESPRIT DE LUXE ; p. 45: courtesy of rémy martin ; p. 46: courtesy of rémy martin, max roy-la rochelle, © bnic /gérard martron, studio pr, © bnic /stéphane charbeau ; pp. 48-49: metzger studios ; p. 51: © bnic /gérard martron, martell /gérard martron, courtesy of xo bar, © robert wilkinson 2004; p. 52: courtesy of hine, rémy martin, camus, courvoisier and delamain. museum of modern art/licensed by scala /art resource ny; pp.

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C o u r t e s y o f C e n t r e i n t e r n at i o n a l d u v i t r a i l d e c h a r t r e s

magazıne

f • “Squares” (2004),

by Germany’s Helga Reay-Young, is featured in “Capter la Lumière,” a show devoted to contemporary female glass artists at Chartres’s Centre International du Vitrail.

Edited by melissa omerberg

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Culture

Paris & the provinces

the life and career of the influential provocateur through photographs, animated images, film excerpts, sound recordings and works of art that once belonged to the musician. Through March 1; cite-musique.fr. Constructivism and More Located in Thessaloniki, Greece, the Costakis Collection—the world’s largest private collection devoted to Russian abstract art— was assembled by an art lover of Greek origin who spent most of his life in Moscow. The Musée Maillol presents 200 key works from that renowned collection in L’Avant-garde russe dans la collection Costakis, which showcases the amazing creativity and diversity of the Russian avantgarde during the 1920s. Through March 2; museemaillol.com.

Rykiel’s 1980 FallWinter collection, at the Musée de la Mode et du Textile.

exhibits paris

The Impressionist Eye The Musée Marmottan’s Monet, L’oeil impressioniste explores the Impressionist master’s vision quite literally. Monet suffered from cataracts that grew increasingly severe with age, and the 60 paintings in the show were selected to highlight not only his artistic development but also his view of the world through the physical filter of his own eyes. Through February 15; marmottan.com. Miró to Warhol In De Miró à Warhol: La Collection Berardo à Paris, the Musée du Luxembourg showcases works from the collection of José Berardo. A Portuguese entrepreneur born on Madeira in 1944, Berardo moved to South Africa at age 19 and made a fortune from gold, wine, banking

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and telecommunications; at 42 he returned to Portugal and began amassing one of Europe’s most interesting collections of modern and contemporary art. The exhibit is organized thematically to illustrate the major artistic movements of the 20th century—Surrealism, Abstraction, New Realism, Pop Art—and includes many of their most important adherents, from Ernst and Magritte to Mondrian, Pollock and Warhol. Through Feb. 22; museeduluxembourg.fr. Serge Gainsbourg The genre-defying singer-songwriter/poet/ painter/actor/director Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991) is the subject of a major exhibition at the Cité de la Musique. A legend in his own time, Gainsbourg was known for sometimes morbid songs that played with words and cultural references, and often had a sexual twist. Serge Gainsbourg, 2008 traces

Robert Frank The Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank immigrated to the United States in 1947 and within just three years was part of a group show at MoMA. In 1955, he received a Guggenheim grant to travel around the country and photograph Americans from all walks of life. Eighty-three of the 23,000 shots he took during his two-year road trip were published in his now-legendary album, The Americans. The Jeu de Paume’s Robert

©Dominique Issermann

An atmospheric •shot from Sonja

Bonaparte and Egypt General Bonaparte’s 1798 Egypt campaign was a military failure but its cultural impact was enormous—the expedition gave rise to the scholarly f ield of Egyptology as well as a wave of Egyptomania in art, fashion and design. In Bonaparte et l’Egypte: Feu et Lumières, the Institut du Monde Arabe explores a century of FrenchEgyptian relations, beginning with the births of Napoleon and Mohammad Ali in 1769 and ending with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. The show boasts some 400 works from the greatest museums of Europe, the U.S. and, of course, Egypt. Through March 20; imarabe.org.


presents all of the images from that work, juxtaposed with a selection of photos of Paris. Jan. 20 through March 22; jeudepaume.org.

Frank: Paris / Les Américains,

M u s é e C o l l e c t i o n B e r a r d o , L i s b o n n e / © A d a g p, Pa r i s , 2 0 0 8 ; J e a n - C l a u d e P l a n c h e t / C e n t r e P o m p i d o u , © D r o i t s r é s e r v é s

Ettore Sottsass The Centre Pompidou pays tribute to one of the 20th-century’s design greats in Hommage à Ettore Sottsass. Known for such iconic creations as the poppy-red “Valentine” typewriter for Olivetti, the Italian architect and industrial designer, who died in 2007, co-founded the 1980s Memphis movement, featuring playfully lopsided shapes and intense colors. The show offers a selection of ceramics, jewelry, design objects and furnishings, as well as models and sketches. Through March 29; centrepompidou.fr. Page Turners From picture books to fairy tales, adventure stories to realistic novels, children’s books provoke our imagination, help shape our vision of the world and provide a common cultural experience. Babar, Harry Potter et Compagnie: Livres d’enfants d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, at the François Mitterrand branch of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, takes a look at some of the best-loved children’s books, from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to the Harry Potter series. Through April 11; bnf.fr. Universal Expositions Technical and industrial showcases, the World’s Fairs held in the French capital may have been short-lived but they left their indelible marks upon the cityscape, contributing such emblematic structures as the Eiffel Tower, the Gare d’Orsay and the Grand and Petit Palais. Paris et ses expositions universelles, Architectures,

on view at the Conciergerie, takes a look at the architectural legacy of these international extravaganzas through 200 prints made from original negatives, stereoscopic images, films and a never-beforeseen 3-D reconstitution. Through April 19; monuments-nationaux.fr.

Sonia Rykiel Fashion designer Sonia Rykiel got her start designing soft maternity sweaters, but her career really took off in 1968, when she opened her first boutique in Saint-Germaindes-Prés. The first designer to put seams on the outside of clothing, Rykiel soon became known as the queen of knitwear—an obsession that has sustained her throughout her career. The Musée de la Mode et du Textile is now presenting an eponymous retrospective of Rykiel’s work combining fashion photography and videos with her very Parisian garments. Through April 19; lesartsdecoratifs.fr. Empire Fashion Curves reigned supreme during the Second Empire, when hoop skirts and bustles accentuated the female silhouette. The Musée Galliera’s Sous l’Empire des Crinolines (18521870) revisits an era when fashionable women changed as many as five times a day to keep up with the frenetic pace of their social calendars. The exhibit, which features some 300 articles of clothing and accessories, opens with a ball scene and goes on to examine aspects of attire ranging from the birth of haute couture to the rise of the Grands Magasins to the creation of the fine jewelry that helped give Paris its glitter. Through April 26; galliera.paris.fr. Méliès the Magician A pioneer of the Seventh Art, Georges Méliès (1861-1938) put the magic in the movies, inventing special effects that included multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, pyrotechnics and more. The Cinémathèque française pays tribute to this seminal f igure in

1855-1937,

Méliès: Magicien du cinéma, which combines rare objects (among them the f i lmma ker’s f irst movie camera), drawings and posters, costumes and other tools

Ettore Sottsass’s iconic “Valentine” typewriter for Olivetti (1969), on view at the Centre Pompidou.

• Max Ernst’s “Coquilles-fleurs” (1929) is part

“De Miró à Warhol” at the Musée du Luxembourg.

of the trade with screenings of his fantastical films. Through April 29; cinematheque.fr. Climate and the Poles Atmosphère: le Climat Révélé par les Glaces

focuses on the role played by the polar ice caps in atmosphere and climate—how they are affected by climatic conditions and how they, in turn, influence the world’s climate. This interactive exhibit at the Musée des Arts et Métiers chronicles 50 years of scientific research as well as the adventures of intrepid researchers in the Arctic and the Antarctic. Along with films and videos, “Atmosphère” features some 130 original objects, from scientific instruments and archival documents to spectacular photographs. Through April 30; arts-et-metiers.net. Against Rodin At the dawn of the 20th century, Rodin was the reigning king of sculpture, and young up-and-comers in France and abroad struggled to free themselves from his influence. Oublier Rodin: La Sculpture à Paris entre 1905

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Culture traditional music revisited Innovative, hybrid takes on traditional music have become increasingly popular in France—a trend showcased in Planètes Musiques. This musical tour kicks off on February 6 with three days of concerts at the Maison de la Musique in Nanterre, featuring performances by Sylvain Roux and Mieko Miyazaki, Dzouga!, and Kabbalah, among others. Then the show goes on the road, with a series of 33 concerts nationwide. Expect the unexpected, including Japanese-Occitan fusion, experimental Celtic sounds and urban Klezmer from Marseille. Through June 7; for a complete schedule visit famdt.com.

• The Yudal Combo, a participant in Planètes Musiques.

Red As Can Be The color red has many associations: Think red alert, red menace, red hot, scarlet letter, royal crimson.… Aussi Rouge que Possible, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, explores the various permutations and symbols of this vibrant hue through some 400 objects in the museum’s collection—among them decorative items and furnishings, textiles and apparel, advertising and political posters—in a wide range of materials. Through Sept. 17; lesartsdecoratifs.fr. CHARTRES

Gathering Light The Centre International du Vitrail examines the work of some 20 women glass artists from four continents in Capter la lumière: Femmes artistes-verriers du XXIe siècle. The exhibit comprises 60 diverse creations, from stainedglass windows to monumental sculptures to paintings and engravings on glass; varying tremendously in style, from the abstract to the highly figurative, they share vibrant colors and an extraordinary luminosity. Through August 1; centre-vitrail.org. COLMAR

Magic Lanterns Believed to have been invented in 1659 by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens,

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the magic lantern—an optical device used to project images painted on glass slides onto a screen—was a forerunner of the modern slide projector. Popular subjects included religious and political subjects, natural history and “phantasmagoria”—early horror shows featuring ghosts and dancing skeletons. The Musée d’Unterlinden’s Lanternes magiques:

transparency and texture,” according to the International Herald Tribune, these exquisite, full-sized “garments” conjure up the world of Mariano Fortuny (1871-1949)—the multitalented Spanish artist, couturier and set designer whose admirers included such literary lions as Proust and D’Annunzio. Through April 26; musee-des-tissues.com.

Le monde fantastique des images lumineuses

presents about 100 of these magic lanterns ranging from the 18th to the early 20th centuries and a large selection of painted slides, along with engravings and other art works depicting the lanterns. Through March 16; musee-unterlinden.com. LYON

Paper Magic Fresh from a successful run in Venice, Rêves de Papier: Isabelle de Borchgrave interprète

STRASBOURG

Art is Arp Strasbourg’s Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain celebrates its 10th birthday with an exhibit devoted to native son and Dada cofounder Jean Arp. Comprising 180 drawings, collages, sculptures and reliefs, as well as Arp’s poetry, Art is Arp —which takes its title from a quip by Marcel Duchamp—illuminates every aspect of this multifaceted artist’s work. Through Feb. 13; musees-strasbourg.org.

Fortuny, at the Musée des Tissues de Lyon, showcases some 40 dresses by the Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Crafted from handpainted, gilded and painstakingly folded papers that produce “astonishing effects of scintillating color, weight,

from one •of Athedetail extraordinary paper dresses showcased in “Rêves de Papier,” in Lyon.

J . P. G a b r i e l

at the Musée d’Orsay, highlights the sculptors—some, such as Maillol, of a classical bent, and others, such as Brancusi, belonging to the avant-garde—whose creations represented a reaction against Rodin’s perceived excesses. March 10 through May 31; musee-orsay.fr. et 1914,


Culture

• Musicians in period dress provided entertainment at the reopening of Marie-Antoinette’s beloved Petit Trianon.

Even Louis XVI required an invitation from Marie-Antoinette to enter the petit trianon, the small, neoclassical château on the grounds of Versailles where the queen took refuge from the rigid etiquette of the French court. Today, her hideaway lies open to the public as never before, following an 18-month, €5.3 million overhaul sponsored by the Swiss watchmaker Breguet, onetime supplier to Marie-Antoinette. Although the project included the addition of multimedia displays, its ultimate goal was to downplay the museum aspect and revive the ambiance of the Petit Trianon as it was when the queen left it for the last time in 1789. The ground floor, previously occupied by visitors’ services, has thus regained its 18th-century layout, including the guards’ quarters, a billiard room and the room that housed the mechanism for the glaces mouvantes in Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir; these sliding mirrors allowed her to cover the windows for complete privacy. Among the reconstituted rooms on the mezzanine, previously off limits to visitors, are the queen’s library and quarters for her lady-in-waiting and head maid. Throughout the palace, the surviving period décor has been restored. A notable example is the grand staircase, with its bronze and gilded wrought-iron banister bearing the queen’s monogram. Important missing elements—the contents of the Petit Trianon were auctioned during the French Revolution and only some items have been recovered—have been painstakingly reproduced or replaced with historically appropriate furnishings. Although the Petit Trianon is now synonymous with Marie-Antoinette, it was built for Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, who died before its completion in 1768. Her successor, Madame du Barry, occupied it until the king’s death. After receiving the château as a wedding gift from Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette made it the centerpiece of a pastoral retreat in the then-fashionable back-to-nature spirit of Rousseau. The restoration of both the Petit Trianon and the estate as a whole are part of “Grand Versailles,” a massive, 17-year-long renovation project launched in 2003. chateauversailles.fr.

By TRACY KENDRICK

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c o u r t e s y o f s e r v i c e d e c o m m u n i c at i o n d u c h ât e a u d e v e r s a i l l e s

spotlight on... The Petit Trianon


Beaux Livres PARIS City of Art

by Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos

A must for aficionados of cultural history, this hefty tome chronicles 2,000 years of art and architecture in the City of Light, from Roman times to the present. A visual extravaganza, it features stunning spreads and spectacular close-up shots of architectural details that would most likely escape the casual observer. This new edition has been revised and updated to include the Quai Branly museum, Mario Botta’s Cathedral of the Resurrection, the Simone de Beauvoir footbridge and more. Vendome, $95.

BRINGING PARIS HOME by Penny Drue Baird

One of Architectural Digest’s top 100 Designers, author Penny Drue Baird deconstructs Parisian style for Americans eager to re-create this look in their own homes. Lavishly illustrated with scenes from the French capital and Baird’s own completed interiors, the book analyses the constituent elements that make up a traditional Parisian room, with chapters on furnishings, paint and wall coverings, fireplaces, lighting and table settings. A special section is devoted to Paris flea markets. Monacelli, $45.

LALANNE(S)

by Daniel Abadie

For more than 50 years, François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne have worked side by side to produce whimsical sculptures that draw from Surrealist tradition. The animal and vegetable worlds are particularly inspiring to them: François-Xavier’s rhino desk and bronze sheep sculptures—fitted with real wool—are unforgettable, as are Claude’s delicate molds of the human body and her cabbage-human hybrids. This new book is the most complete monograph ever published about this creative couple. Flammarion, $125.

THE DAWN OF THE COLOR PHOTOGRAPH

by David Okuefuna

In 1909, French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn launched a hugely ambitious project: to produce a color photographic record of human life on earth. Hoping to foster international peace and understanding, he enlisted photographers to travel to some 50 countries over a period of two decades. The ensuing “Archives of the Planet” documents people and places just as the world was about to change dramatically as a result of war, modernization and Westernization. Princeton University Press, $49.50.

JACQUES TORRES’ A YEAR IN CHOCOLATE

by Jacques Torres, photographs by Steve Pool

Chocolatier Jacques Torres, the former long-time pastry chef at Le Cirque and a dean at the French Culinary Institute, enjoys a loyal fan base among the chocoholic staff of France Magazine. In his latest cookbook, subtitled “80 Recipes for Holidays and Special Occasions,” Torres offers sweet treats for every fête, from Christmas to the Fourth of July. Luscious photos accompany the mouthwatering recipes, many of which are kid-friendly. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35.

LUCIEN LELONG

by Juliette Demornex

A key player in French fashion from the 1920s to 1950s, Lucien Lelong was known for his fresh, modern designs and exquisite workmanship; devoted clients included Colette, Greta Garbo and Rose Kennedy. Lelong invented the concept of luxury prêt-à-porter in the 1930s and was one of the first designers to diversify into lingerie, accessories and perfumes. This lovely new book offers a wonderful opportunity to rediscover this influential figure. Thames & Hudson, $45.

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Bon Voyage

Notes for the savvy traveler

The Apostrophe’s •dreamy “Paris” room offers views of the city’s rooftops, whether the curtains are open or closed.

(b)

Big DEALS

For six weeks, beginning on January 7, bargain hunters throughout France will be able to snap up items at up to 70 percent off. In the capital, many retailers are taking part

• The Apostrophe Hôtel, near the Luxembourg Gardens, takes its inspiration from the

intellectual, artistic and literary life of the surrounding neighborhood. All 16 rooms are different, but whether the theme is poetry, music or graffiti, they all have the most modern amenities—flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, gorgeous tile bathrooms…. From €220; apostrophe-hotel.com. • Mama Shelter is probably this season’s most talked-about hotel. Located near Père-Lachaise, the new place boasts major design creds—heard of Philippe Starck?— combined with budget prices. The rooms have a minimalist, industrial-chic aesthetic and offer free computer access and Wi-Fi. Also on site: a restaurant with simple, family-style dishes conceived by Alain Senderens, a brasserie and a huge bar. From €79; mamashelter.com. • The 32-room All Seasons Paris Gare de l’Est Magenta, in the 10th arrondissement— one of the city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods—offers a contemporary décor, complimentary Wi-Fi, an all-you-can-eat breakfast, magazines and games for children, and unlimited tea, coffee and mineral water—at budget prices. From €105; all-seasons-hotels.com.

• The Tour SaintJacques.

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Towering Achievements

The Tour Saint-Jacques can finally be viewed in its full splendor. The point of departure for pilgrims leaving for Santiago de Compostela, Spain, this Gothic masterpiece has shed its scaffolding after seven years of restoration. The tower’s delicately sculpted ornaments and statuary had grown increasingly fragile as a result of human activity, pollution and weather. Now architectural elements and sculptures have been restored or replaced, and stained-glass windows cleaned and refurbished. After five centuries, this Right Bank landmark looks as good as new.

in “Soldes by Paris,” a tourist-office initiative featuring special opening times and offers at shops, hotels and restaurants. For information and itineraries, visit shoppingbyparis.com and parisinfo.com. courtesy of a postrophe ; Michel Bout tier

Sleepy time


Bon Voyage

Notes for the savvy traveler A Valentine’s •Day treat from

SWEETS FOR THE SWEET

If you’re going to be in Paris on Valentine’s Day, make sure you give your honey something sweet from one Pierre Hermé. of the city’s great chocolatiers—many of whom will be offering special packages for the holiday. Here are a few favorites: • Castellane combines two festive ingredients: chocolate and wine. For Valentine’s Day (or anytime, really), pick up a box of bonbons made with Champagne. castellane.com • Debauve et Gallais, founded in 1800, kept the kings of France happy, and it can do the same for your chéri(e). Try their special Valentine coeur praliné. debauve-et-gallais.com • Fauchon is one of the best known luxury-food purveyors to serve up wonderful chocolate creations. Their confections come in the brand’s instantly recognizable pink-and-black packaging. fauchon.com • Jean-Paul Hévin, one of the brightest stars of the chocolate universe, has three Paris shops; the Exubérante chocolate bar, Arts Premiers sweets and chocolate Mogador are particular favorites. jphevin.com • Lafayette Gourmet, the famous luxury food hall at Galeries Lafayette, features Kama-Cao Francis Miot chocolate bars. You have to be 18 to purchase these x-rated sweets because of their aphrodisiac ingredients and accompanying depiction of Kama Sutra positions. galerieslafayette.com • La Maison du Chocolat, with seven Paris boutiques, offers ganaches, truffles and chocolate-dipped fruits made artisanally by 25 local maître-chocolatiers. Their heart-shaped V-Day box includes such surprising combinations as dark ganache with raspberry and basil. lamaisonduchocolate.com • Pierre Hermé launched the concept of haute-couture pastry, with a new collection each season, and his creations inspire a fanatical following. For Valentine’s Day, look for the Coeur origine—a tender chocolate cake with light ganache—and Coeur agape, featuring gingerbread and lemon flavors. pierreherme.com

iPhone in France without racking up huge roaming charges? Switch off the Edge system and use only Wi-Fi when sending e-mail or surfing the Web. For a list and map of free hotspots in Paris cafés and parks, go to cafes-wifi.com.

• Parisians’ Paris by Bill Gillham. The premise of this guide

is that rather than trying to cram everything in, visitors to Paris should approach the city as a series of villages, staying in a particular quartier and getting to know it in depth. The book presents 18 different communities, each with its characteristic hotels, bistros, shops, gardens and museums. Pallas Athene, $23.95. • An Hour from Paris by Annabel Simms. This useful guide offers tips for exploring destinations in Ile-de-France, the region surrounding Paris. Easily accessible by train, they include medieval towns, charming châteaux, artists’ and writers’ residences, and plenty of reasonably priced dining options. Pallas Athene, $23.95. • 2008-2009 Pudlo Guides by Gilles Pudlowski. Le Point’s eminent restaurant critic has developed a huge fan base, thanks to his idiosyncratic guides, which cover France’s best hotels, restaurants, cafés and gourmet shops. This winter brings the English-language release of three new regional guides: Provence, the Côte d’Azur and Monaco; Alsace; and Normandy and Brittany. The Little Bookroom, $14.95 each.

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Want to use your

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B ERNHARD W IN K ELMANN

(g)

guides

paris hotspots


Rated

★★★★★

by The Art Newspaper

FRANK HORVAT - COURTESY HOLDEN LUNTZ GALLERY

85 prestigious international dealers present an extraordinary array of paintings, sculpture, jewelry, and decorative arts in America’s most exclusive winter destination, Palm Beach. A visit to the Palm Beaches promises collectors a fair week of great art, relationships with dealers from around the world, multiple opportunities f for cultural diversity, and elegant social events throughout each day and evening. February 3rd - Gala Preview Vernissage (by separate ticket) benefiting the Norton Museum of Art Presenting Sponsor:

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Nouveautés

What’s in store Fashion Source Couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier’s new bottles for EVIAN are about as fresh as, well, a glass of cool water. Clean blue graphics stand out against a background of shimmering crystals, making these bottles keepers rather than something you’d toss in the recycling bin. In France, you can purchase them dressed up in a designer shopping bag or a très Gaultier metal canister. €2.99 to €14.99 at select French gourmet shops and department stores; $13.95 plus shipping from shopevian.com.

Chez Swan

Laser Vision Andrée Putman’s new “Correspondences” desk

for Bisazza takes mosaic tile from the bathroom to the boardroom. The underside of the blacklacquered wood desk is set with glass tile in a checkerboard pattern (look for the single gold accent). And that’s not the only innovation: The piece features two adjustable overlapping tops. €11,500; bisazza.it.

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Making Arrangements They’ve been seen in the Paris Ritz and at the Chicago Museum of Modern Art. Now Pascal Bourgaisse’s VASES for his company, Bookan, can change the way you arrange flowers chez vous. Blending such contemporary materials as glass and stainless steel, the vases turn stems and blooms into modern sculptures. €7 to €89; bookan.net.

marie - christophe ; e vian ; book an ; bisa z z a

Marie-Christophe’s fanciful lamps and chandeliers are art pieces in their own right. Handcrafted of wire and crystals, CYGNE is an exquisite new addition to her collection. The heads of four swans, holding turquoise lampshades in their beaks, add a wonderful touch of whimsy. €16,500; mariechristophe.com.


Hanging Out

S t u d i o M a n z a n o ; B a cc a r at; C é d r i c R a g o t D e s i g n S t u d i o ; NATHALIE C OSTES ; c a u d a l i e USA

Organic forms are still going strong, as evidenced by this bamboo and powdercoated steel coat tree—shaped quite literally like a tree—by French design duo Studio Manzano. Its “branches” alternate between hooks and hangers, making it easy to layer bags and scarves as well as jackets and coats. €950; studiomanzano.fr.

Everything is Illuminated Sometimes thinking outside the box means thinking inside of it. Just ask Jean-Marie Massaud. His Curiosity Cabinet pendant lamp for AV Mazzega, featuring Venetian chandelier elements suspended in a glass case, is an eyepopping blend of classical and modern. €1,880; avmazzega.com.

classic comeback

Time Capsule This is not your grandfather’s clock. Created for the British design brand Innermost, Cédric Ragot’s zinc die-cast “Mantel Dome” distills the traditional carriage clock down to its elegant essence. The glass cover is handblown. $200; innermost.co.uk.

When luxe cristallier Baccarat decided to release a more accessible line of glass items, they turned to the innovative designers of 5.5. The result is Apparat—a new take on the company’s classic “Harcourt” design. The famous silhouette is superimposed onto tumblers, decanters and vases, giving them an unexpected flair. $225 to $775; baccarat.fr.

Product Plugs Extension cords—useful but ugly, right? Not any more. Designer Nathalie Costes has figured out how to turn these unsightly objects into decorative accents. Inspired by her signature necklaces, Costes’s cords, made of colored, lacquered beads, are pretty enough to wear. Makes you wonder why nobody ever thought of this before. €200; bynataliecostes.com.

TOP SEEDS

Caudalie made a splash among spa aficionados back in 1999 when it opened Les Sources de Caudalie at Château Smith Haut Lafitte, near Bordeaux. The elegant spa offered facials and skin treatments incorporating polyphenols— powerful antioxidants from grapevines and grape seeds. Now Americans looking for a “vinotherapy” experience don’t have so far to travel. The company’s first American location opened this fall at New York’s Plaza, offering a menu of services including a Honey & Wine Wrap, a Crushed Cabernet Scrub and a Fresh Grape Massage. Guests can also take advantage of the French Paradox Wine Lounge, whose offerings can be paired with a selection of delicious “petits plats.” Open daily. One West 58th Street, Floor 4, New York, NY; 212/265-3182; caudalie-usa.com. F r a n c e • W I N T ER 2 0 0 8 - 0 9

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On Screen THE CLASS Laurent Cantet

took top honors at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival—earning the first Palme d’Or for France in more than 20 years—for Entre les murs, set exclusively in a rough Parisian high school. The film is adapted from François Bégaudeau’s nonfiction book of the same name, and the exceptional cast of non-actors includes the author himself as Monsieur Marin, the Esméralda Ouertani and Rachel Régulier, persevering (and imperfect) featured in The Class. teacher. The students, many of whom are immigrants or firstgeneration French citizens, reveal personalities that are as fully formed as two hours of screen time permits—wrestling not only with homework and hormones but also their varied cultures and religions. Slated release: December 26, 2008. (Sony Pictures Classics). ZIDANE , A 21ST CENTURY PORTRAIT Little more than a year before Zinédine Zidane’s infamous World Cup head-butt, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno filmed this arty documentary that follows “Zizou” throughout a 90-minute championship game in Madrid. With the help of 17 cameras that create a 360-degree perspective, the directors use only match footage and an instrumental soundtrack from the post-rock Scottish band Mogwai to convey Zidane’s experience. Select screenings. (Katapult Films)

new on dvd THE GROCER’S SON (2008) Antoine

(Nicolas Cazalé) must return home to the French countryside after his father falls ill from a heart attack. Largely estranged from his family, sullen Antoine takes on the role of the local traveling grocer, driving a rickety van and peddling canned goods and vegetables to the eccentric locals. This comedic coming-of-age film is directed by Eric Guirado and also stars Clotilde Hesme. (Film Movement) LAGERFELD CONFIDENTIAL (2007)

Drawn from more than 300 hours of film footage, Rodolphe Marconi’s stylishly filmed documentary shows much more than the requisite glimpse behind Karl Lagerfeld’s signature sunglasses, revealing much about the designer's sexuality, his collaboration with Chanel and the inspiration behind his creativity. (Koch Lorber) A LITTLE FAMILY CONVERSATION (1999)

Just three years before her death from cancer at age 47, actress Hélène

Lapiower completed Petite Conversation Familiale, a series of interviews with her family of Polish-Jewish immigrants. Lapiower, who moved to France at age 20 to study drama, filmed during the course of 10 years, traveling to the U.S. and Belgium to bring together her relatives’ stories. (Facets Video) 10 YEARS OF RIALTO PICTURES (19542000) Rialto Pictures has spent the

past decade meticulously restoring and premiering previously unreleased classic films to American audiences. To celebrate this anniversary, the Criterion Collection has released a box set of 10 films (seven are French), most of which explore the darker side of human existence. Highlights include Jean-Pierre Melville’s Oscar-winning French Resistance masterpiece, Army of Shadows, and the bone-chilling Murderous Maids (2002). (Criterion Collection)

Additional film and music reviews as well as sound clips are available on francemagazine.org.

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Music Bénabar Infréquentable

This is the fourth studio album from the self-described “chroniqueur de la vie” and member of the nouvelle chanson movement, whose Paris concerts have been known to sell out within a day. Bénabar’s buttery voice and comic timing are well suited to his songs, which touch on such topics as day-to-day life, failed romance and miscommunication. (Sony BMG) Vincent Delerm Quinze Chansons

This is a deceptively simple title for an album that covers everything from Martin Parr to Milan Kundera to Shea Stadium. The charismatic Delerm shows his emotional range with evocative melancholic songs such as la vie est la même, but his forte is comedy, as showcased in the vaudevillian le coeur des volleyeuses bat plus fort pour les volleyeurs. (Tôt ou Tard) Olivier Messiaen Olivier Messiaen

In celebration of what would have been the 100th birthday of the innovative composer, ornithologist and devout Catholic Olivier Messiaen, Naïve has released a six-CD box set featuring seven of his masterworks—including a live performance from his 80th-birthday concert. The compositions are interpreted by renowned conductor Pierre Boulez and pianist Yvonne Loriod (Messiaen’s wife), among others. (Naïve) By RACHEL BEAMER

Sony Pictures Cl assics

Sons & Images


Délices & Saveurs

Le Saugeais a tiny nation devoted to making— and eating­— great food

• The Brenod dairy

cooperative produces the region’s delicious Comté cheese.

The Prime Minister drives

a Volkswagen. Forget about a chauffeur— he’s too independent and in way too much of a hurry. With all of his official duties, this mustachioed giant has a killer schedule. As he slams on his brakes in front of the Abbey of Montbenoît in the Doubs department, near the Swiss border, we all stand solemnly at attention. The leader approaches, preceded by his huge shadow. “Sorry I’m late,” he apologizes, shaking hands vigorously. “I’ve been harvesting hay since dawn.” What? Such a high dignitary mows his own hay? “Why not?” retorts the farmer. “We all wear two hats here: Our chief of staff is a retired bank employee; the President’s chauffeur used to be a mechanic….” We follow the Prime Minister to the Abbey’s cloister, where the President and a handful of ministers are waiting for him. Welcome to the République du Saugeais. This “sovereign state” came into being as the result of a joke. In 1947, the prefect of the Doubs department was having lunch at the Auberge de Montbenoît when the proprietor quipped, “Do you have a visa to 20

Fr a nce • w inter 2008-09

enter Sauget territory?” The prefect played along, listening patiently as his host detailed the local traditions. They are so strong, explained the innkeeper, that the villagers feel as though they belong to a small republic. “But a republic needs a president,” the prefect remarked. “I hereby appoint you President of the République du Saugeais.” Thus an outlandish little state was born, measuring 50 square miles and boasting 5,000 inhabitants, 11 villages and its own national anthem. Throughout the decades, the regime has cultivated the trappings of power: a flag, an ersatz customs service, fake banknotes and stamps issued by the post office. Amused by this little “nation,” the French authorities play along. They know perfectly well that they’ve got nothing to worry about—the République du Saugeais has its tongue implanted firmly in its cheek. “To gain independence,” confides the Prime Minister, “people always have to die. That’s the last thing we want!” There’s only one thing in this little valley that’s not a laughing matter: les plaisirs de la table. Cheese, charcuterie, wine … all those

local specialties that make Le Saugeais not just a nation but a terroir. Does gastronomic excellence encourage democracy? Perhaps; everyone knows that under totalitarian regimes, the food is always terrible. Comté perfectly epitomizes the sense of solidarity one finds in this little republic. This pale yellow cheese is intimately connected with the region’s history. For centuries, the harshness of the climate and the lack of major roads made it essential for the valley’s farmers to help one another. Since the milk produced by cows belonging to a single family was insufficient to make a round of Comté—they weigh in at 88 pounds—the farmers created so-called fruitières to pool their resources. Located in the village centers, these cooperatives helped define the contours of a terroir that now extends to three departments: the Doubs, the Jura and the Ain. These centuries-old traditions helped Comté earn an Appellation d’Origine Contrôllée (AOC) label in 1958, the first ever awarded to a French cheese. This year, manufacturers proudly celebrate the 50th anniversary of that achievement. This AOC comprises about 170 fruitières t hat ad here to stringent production standards. Only milk from Montbéliarde and Simmental cows may be used. The feeding of these bovines too is strictly regulated: They get fresh grass in the summer and naturally dried hay in the winter. In addition, the milk used by the cooperatives must come from within a range of less than 15 miles. This requirement, which favors quality over quantity, is crucial—it preserves the cheese’s artisanal character and ensures a strong

gigc/bouveret

by Alexandre Kauffmann


l a u r e n t va u t r i n ; c i g c / s t u d i o v i s i o n ; © s c o p e / j . g u i l l a r d ; c i g c / g o d i n

connection between fruitière and terroir. “That’s why producers are so proud of their cheese: It comes from an area near them, one that they’re very familiar with,” explains Nicolas Vernerey, who has been working for six months at the fruitière in Gilley, the Saugeais’s “economic capital.” No fewer than 135 plant species have been recorded in the area where this cooperative’s dairy cows graze. They give Comté de Gilley its unique flavor—its notes of fresh hazelnut, honey and leather, along with slightly sweet taste. While it’s a source of pride, the prestigious AOC label can make life diff icult for cheesemakers. “The milk has to be processed within 24 hours,” says Vernerey. “So you have to be there every day of the week, often at dawn, because the milk is collected during the night.” Artisans have to heat and stir the milk in large copper vats, pour the contents into moulds, then carry the heavy rounds of cheese to the shelves of the cooperative. “It’s incredibly hard on the back,” says the young cheesemaker. “After so much effort, you feel like you’ve really earned the label.” After a few days of rest, the rounds are moved to an aging cellar where they remain at least four months. “In Gilley,” says the Prime Minister with a swagger, “we let the Comté age for one to two years—we like strong flavors!” A bizarre roadblock blocks our way out of La Longeville, an agricultural town nestled alongside the meandering Doubs river. Two customs officers are standing in front of an iron structure topped with the Sauget flag. Smiling, they search our car. Afterward they recommend one of the best saltedmeat producers of the region: Le Tuyé du Papy Gaby, just to the north. Typical of the

addresses LODGING Chez les Colin This hundredyear-old guesthouse set among the meadows and forests of the Jura serves up original dishes that incorporate wild plants. €80 for two including breakfast. Tel. 33/3-81-46-4651-63; chezlescolin.fr. FOOD SHOPPING Le Tuyé du Papy Gaby Tel. 33/3-81-43-30-26; tuye-papygaby.com. DINING Auberge de la Roche Fixed-price menus between €25 and €75. Tel. 33/3-8168-80-05; aubergedelaroche.fr. For additional information about the area, visit the Comité Régional du Tourisme de FrancheComté at franche-comte.org.

• Clockwise from top left: A Sauget “border guard” mans the frontier; rounds of Comté in an aging cellar; a Montbéliarde cow, a local breed whose milk is used for Comté cheese; smoked Morteau sausage, a Franche-Comté favorite.to crêpes.

Haut-Doubs, tuyés are large chimney-shaped rooms used to dry and smoke meat. Greeted by proprietor Gérard Marguet, we enter an impressive, 54-foot-high pyramid-like space. Hanging on the walls are “state treasures”: noix de jambon fumée, lard paysan, viande de boeuf séchée.... Le Tuyé du Papy Gaby is particularly reputed for its legendary Morteau sausages, whose Red Label guarantees origin and quality. If there’s a dream destination for Morteau lovers, it’s most likely l’Auberge de la Roche, a Doubs Valley restaurant boasting a Michelin star. “With high-quality local ingredients like these, we can’t help but perform miracles,” jokes chef Philippe Feuvrier. And in fact he does work wonders with Morteau sausage: Finely sliced and heated in the oven, it crunches in the mouth like chips, releasing a subtle, smoky flavor. “When it comes to these specialties,” he points out, “we can’t disappoint our guests: The town of Morteau is famous for its sausages, so the bar is set

very high. It’s like a restaurant on the coast of Brittany where it wouldn’t occur to anyone to serve frozen lobster.” Expectations are just as high for the Comté. The cheerful, talkative young chef has a fail-proof recipe: He heats the cheese in milk, then pours it over candied fruit. It’s a culinary marvel. Comté is also traditionally enjoyed with the Jura’s famous vin jaune— another local AOC product. Made from a single grape varietal—Savignin—this wine must age for at least six years. Feuvrier himself produces a small quantity under the label Le Puit de Saint-Pierre. “I wanted to give this wine its own special character—rectilinear and mineral,” he says. “I serve it with simple dishes, because it’s already so ample; no point in complicating things!” Looking over Feuvrier’s menu, you realize that the only sad thing about the République du Saugeais is that there’s no way you’re ever going to get to sample all the culinary treasures particular to this region. But hey, no place is perfect. Fr a nce • w inter 2008-09

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Fragrant Roses de Mai—a variety of Centifolia—are grown in Pégomas, near Grasse. Used in some of the world’s top perfumes, they are processed as soon as they are harvested.


g r a s s e Probably no word evokes lovelier scents than the name of this town in southern France.

Long the world capital of perfume, it has recently revamped its International Perfume Museum, giving visitors fresh insight into the seductive world of fragrance. By AMy SerAFIn

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g “Grasse, what a town! The Rome of scents, the Promised Land

of perfumes,” sighs the Italian perfumer Baldini in the film Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, based on Patrick Süskind’s novel of 18thcentury France. “No man can rightly call himself a perfumer unless he has proved his worth in that hallowed place.” So it was then, and so it is today. Grasse, the cradle of the luxury perfume industry, continues to provide between 7 and 9 percent of global turnover in fragrances and food flavorings. That translates into €650 million per year from eaux de cologne, vanilla yogurt—even the smell of gasoline in our cars. The story of perfume in Grasse as well as the rest of the world is now on display at the city’s new and improved International Perfume Museum, which reopened its doors this fall after a four-year, €11.3 million renovation. Originally inaugurated in The pride of 1989, it claims to be the world’s only pubthe museum is a lic museum dedicated to the business of travel case that making fragrances. “We’ve tried to be as once belonged educational as possible, but we also strive to MARIE to make this a pleasant experience, an inANTOINETTE. vitation to dream,” says Marie-Christine The huge Grasse, the aptly named chief curator of mahogany box Grasse’s museums. has compartments With an eye-pleasing overhaul by archifor assorted tect Frédéric Jung, the museum has douobjects including bled in size, to nearly 37,000 square feet. It the floral scents encompasses several existing buildings— the queen loved. an 18th-century townhouse and stables, an abandoned residence, part of a former convent and a medieval stone rampart. Like the perfume business itself, the architecture balances modernity and the past, poetry and industry. Stainless steel pipes, rusted metal door frames, transparent walkways and open staircases are resolutely of the moment yet recall the city’s industrial history. A blown-glass 24

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fountain and pool by contemporary artists Jean-Michel Othoniel and Brigitte Nahon play off the classical garden; planted with roses and jasmine, it reminds visitors of the fields of flowers that once carpeted the hillsides around Grasse. Exotic aromatic plants such as ylang ylang, vanilla and cinnamon grow in a tropical greenhouse, and basil, thyme, mimosa and other local flora scent the air of an open terrace. The museum possesses a collection of 50,000 objects from five continents, tracing four millennia of history. Perfume, soap and cosmetics are put in their anthropological context via such articles as an ancient Greek terracotta aryballos (a spherical flask to hold perfumed oil), a Moroccan ornamental ring for perfuming hair, a Chinese bronze incense burner, 19th-century Bohemian crystal flasks for smelling salts, Brazilian vegetable soaps and a reconstruction of Paris’s


The International Perfume Museum traces the history of perfumery through thousands of objects. Clockwise from top left A porcelain jar of smelling salts (France, 19th century); a glass flacon created by Hector Guimard for Millot (1900); a cut-crystal flask of smelling salts (France, c. 1825); a Bristol Glass bottle (England, 17th century); Merle Norman’s 1940 Adoration (the goddess’s head served as the stopper).

Maison Piver, one of the oldest French perfume shops. The pride of the museum’s collection is a travel case that once belonged to Marie-Antoinette. “In 1791, when she was secretly plotting to flee Paris, the queen wanted to take it with her, so she ordered a copy of the case, saying that she was going to send it as a gift to her sister in the Netherlands,” Marie-Christine Grasse relates. “But her lady-in-waiting grew suspicious, told on her, and the royal family was arrested on the road.” The huge mahogany box weighs 175 pounds, with compartments for assorted objects, including a porcelain tea service, a silver bed warmer, a sewing kit and crystal flasks for carrying the floral scents the queen loved, primarily rose and violet. Other highlights of the collection include a Japanese ceremonial game for identifying incense fragrances, called Kô Dô, and an old

“scent organ” (a desk covered with rows of glass bottles containing natural and synthetic ingredients) once used by a Grasse perfumer. One of the most amusing rooms displays three iconic bottles from each year of the 20th century, many illustrating the frequent pairing of famous crystal makers and great perfumes. Collectors’ pulses will race at the sight of René Lalique’s cobalt-blue spherical bottle with stars for Worth’s first fragrance, Dans la Nuit, from 1924, and the crystal kissing fish by Baccarat for Lubin’s Océan Bleu in 1925. Vigny’s Golliwogg bottle from 1920 is also widely coveted, though of questionable taste today, with its exaggerated black face and tuft of hair made of seal fur. More recent standouts include Yves Saint Laurent’s cinnamon-hued Opium bottle from 1977, Guy Laroche’s black Drakkar Noir flask from 1982, and several specimens (from Diorella Franc e • wi n t e r 2 0 0 8 -0 9

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to Kenzo’s Flowers) by the king of contemporary bottle designers, Serge Mansau. Then there’s Revlon’s Charlie, with its cursive font and squiggly line, which might make you start humming that wonderfully cheesy theme song from 1973 as visions of a confidently liberated Shelley Hack flash by. It’s not easy to create a museum around an ephemeral product, to avoid falling into the trap of simply displaying bottles. The city strived to make this place what Marie-Christine Grasse calls “a cultural tool” rather than a static exhibition space, with workshops, interactive machines and demonstrations of modern techniques such as “headspace,” whereby scientists trap a plant’s scent-bearing molecules to analyze and reproduce them. The building was curiously fragrance-free at its opening last fall, but an olfactory trail through the exhibit is planned for the spring. And as its name indicates, this is a Musée de la Parfumerie, not a Musée du Parfum—an important distinction. The museum may be about a fleeting substance, but it’s also about a very substantial industry.

t

The perfume business put Grasse on the map and is still its

leading activity, though the industry has changed enormously over the years. During the 16th century, French perfumery went hand in hand with glove making. Grasse was a major center for leather tanning, and Queen Catherine de Médicis had introduced the nation to the fashion for scented gloves (they otherwise smelled foul). By the 18th century, there were 21 glove maker-perfumers in the city. Gradually they focused solely on perfume, eschewing leather because of steep taxes and the waning popularity of fine skins. This was the age of Dangerous Liaisons-style libertinage, and perfume was perfectly suited to the art of flirting. Perfume-making techniques were evolving, too. Specialists learned how to make alcohol-based scents and to coax the fragrance out of flowers by laying them on animal fat, a method called enfleurage. Although the Revolution bankrupted many Ancien Régime perfumers, French people continued to douse themselves in fragrance. (There was even a scent called Elixir de la Guillotine.) The 19th century brought increasing industrialization. Volatile solvents such as ether replaced enfleurage as a means of extraction (despite ether’s propensity to burst into flames); French colonies provided new raw materials with exotic smells; and synthetic ingredients started to appear. By the early 20th century, Grasse held a virtual monopoly on the transformation of natural products. The hills surrounding the city were a riot of color, providing thousands of tons of jasmine, roses, orange blossoms and violets. Those same hills are now dotted

oPPosiTe PaGe A worker shovels rose petals into a crate for Grasse’s Roure distillery; it takes four tons of petals to produce a kilo of essential oils. above A visitor admires a display of perfume bottles at the newly reopened International Perfume Museum.

with suburban bungalows and swimming pools. Four miles outside the city, an 18th-century house overlooks a plot of land speckled with tiny white flowers like snowflakes on a shaggy green carpet. A light, sweet scent hangs in the air. The Domaine de Manon, run by Carole Biancalana and her father, Hubert, is one of the last rose and jasmine plantations in the area. In the jasmine field, five elderly workers are hunched over, picking delicate blossoms one by one and dropping them into baskets. They started at 5:30 in the morning and will pick until every flower is gone, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. “The flowers are plentiful today. There’s no breeze,” says Hubert Biancalana, explaining that wind is the mortal enemy of jasmine because it stops the plants from blooming. Biancalana’s father emigrated here from Italy in 1923, along with many others who came to work the fields during the jasmine boom. He saved enough money as a picker that in 1956, he was able to buy the land from the perfumer who employed him. At that time, there were still 5,000 growers in the area, though the war had dealt a blow to the local industry. Hefty labor costs and high taxation both took a toll on growers, but the final straw was the economic crisis of 1975-76. “For two years we didn’t harvest because there was too much stock in the marketplace. That meant two years without income,” says Biancalana. “Many growers became discouraged and sold their fields to people who built houses instead.” Grasse now counts fewer than a dozen jasmine growers, and 30 others that cultivate the famous Centifolia rose. These days, most jasmine comes from India or Egypt, where it’s about 12 times cheaper, and many roses come from Bulgaria and Turkey. Nonetheless, the quality of Grasse’s flowers is irreplaceable, a result of the particular soil conditions and the warm, humid microclimate. These are the only flowers good enough for the formulas of a few perfume classics. At Domaine de Manon and most other local plantations, practically every jasmine flower that’s picked will end up in a bottle of Chanel No. 5. In this way, Chanel (and, to a lesser extent, Jean Patou) guarantees the continued existence of Grasse’s jasmine. Biancalana points out, “The great perfumers know that if this exceptional quality flower disappears one day, they’ll have a problem. We are their image.” Franc e • wi n t e r 2 0 0 8 -0 9

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marketing campaigns, but nobody can beat Grasse when it comes to making the product itself. “We are the Silicon Valley of the perfume industry,” says Han-Paul Bodifée, president of Prodarom, a national association of fragrance manufacturers. He notes that the city houses about 60 companies specializing in two main activities: Transforming natural raw materials into fragrant extracts (as the monstrous Grenouille learned to do with young girls in Perfume) and producing perfume compositions or food flavorings. In addition, Grasse is home to a network of importers, exporters, brokers and other perfume-related professions. Bodifée is confident that the fragrance and flavor trade will be able to withstand the gloom of the current economic climate. “Worldwide, our industry has demonstrated better than average growth, and I assume it will continue to do so. Besides, even during times of recession, people like to treat themselves to small luxuries.” Behind an electronic gate in an industrial zone of the city, the Laboratoire Monique Rémy (LMR) is one of a handful of companies whose sole activity is extracting odors from aromatic plants (flowers, fruits, bark, spices, resins) and animals (civet, beaver), and transforming them into a form that perfume makers can use. LMR is a high-end player in the business. When Rémy created her company in 1983, she stood out by offering totally pure, natural ingredients at a time when other companies provided mainly diluted or synthetic products to cost-conscious clients. Now a subsidiary of the huge American multinational International Flavors and Fragrances, LMR maintains a certain Gallic independence. General manager Bernard Toulemonde points out that though most of his company’s raw materials come from outside France, he rejects genetically modified plants and those Nowadays villas outnumber flower plantations around Grasse, but the remaining treated with pesticides. growers still produce some of the world’s best blooms. ToP Jasmine, one of the essential ingredients of French perfume. above A box containing violets for The air smells lovely here, as The quality of processing at Grasse’s Parfumerie Molinard. it does at just about every place Grasse’s flowers linked to perfume in this city. is irreplaceable, Shelves are lined with tins con- a result of the taining products for sale: rose oil from particular soil Turkey, Mimosa absolute from Mo- conditions and rocco. Toulemonde explains, “What we the warm, humid do is collect plants at the moment they microclimate. are giving off the scent we want, and These are THE then submit them to a physical process ONLY FLOWERS that immobilizes this odor and makes it GOOD ENOUGH available for the rest of the year.” for a few perfume The first part of the process takes classics. place in the field, where the freshly picked flowers are either turned into a although the flowers are nearly gone, Grasse still holds a place solid paste called a “concrete” (one ton of prominence in the trade. Says the city’s mayor, Jean-Pierre Leleux, of flowers produces a kilo of concrete) or distilled to deliver essen“Our industry hasn’t escaped the tempest of globalization and world- tial oils (four tons of rose petals produce a kilo of essence). Barrels of wide competition of the past 30 years, yet Grasse maintains an in- concrete and essential oils are then transported to the Grasse factory, comparable savoir-faire that’s anchored in tradition.” Modern-day where they are transformed into “absolute” through re-extraction or descendants of old family dynasties remain active in the business, hav- into other forms through distillation. ing exhibited an impressive ability to adapt to contemporary challenges. On the factory floor, big steel machines fitted with Florentine flasks Egypt may produce jasmine, Paris and New York create seductive resemble the equipment that’s been used in this city for generations.

a

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pastels had only 30 colors. The arrival of chemical products gave them 300. This is progress. We need chemicals.” As Han-Paul Bodifée of Prodarom explains, synthetics are often (but not always) cheaper, too. “We are continually looking for new and less expensive scents. And if we can replace a synthetic product with an even cheaper synthetic product, we’re interested.” There are stubborn holdouts: natural iris absolute costs a fortune—as much as €150,000 per kilo—and nobody has yet come up with a synthetic version. Lily of the valley, on the other hand, can only be synthetically produced, since the flower is “mute,” meaning that not a drop of fragrance can be squeezed from it. Back at the museum, a dynamic young woman named Christine Saillard is conducting an olfactory workshop, spraying scents onto paper testers and asking an international group of visitors to identify them. “People react according to their life experiences,” she says. The Germans recognize After the flowers are gathered, the perfumes are composed and bottled, and finally cinnamon, the scent of spice cake and Christmas, while the made available to the consumer. ABOVE A perfumer inhales the fragrant steam emitFrench react to the smell of white glue, which reminds them ted from a still. BELOW A dazzling window display at Serge Lutens Parfums in Paris. of school. Saillard passes around a small pot with a brown waxy substance whose heavy molecules take a moment to Though LMR still follows many traditional methods, mastery of them reach the nose. When they do, each person invariably winces from has evolved. “We continue to figure out new ways to use old materials the overpowering stench. It’s musk from the glands of a civet, used as and techniques,” says Toulemonde. He points out an apparatus used a perfume stabilizer (and much less popular today than it once was). for fractional distillation, which divides a fragrance into several parts. Then Saillard hands out a floral scent that’s vexingly familiar, though The lab can select or dispose of elements at will to respond to a per- nobody comes up with the name. It turns out to be a synthetic called fumer’s specific requests—from removing color from an essential oil hedione, similar to jasmine. Some experience a whiff of nostalgia when to erasing an earthy note in patchouli. they smell it, jolted by childhood memories of their fathers. That’s beOn this particular day, a young scientist is experimenting with cause perfumer Edmond Roudnitska made hedione famous in 1966, molecular distillation of roses, which are too delicate to be heated. when he created Dior’s popular “Eau Sauvage” for men. If perfume The rose essence passes through the glass tubing a drop at a time, and has endured for millennia and become big business, it’s largely because one molecule is removed, methyl eugenol, a natural yet potentially it’s an emotional trigger as potent as Proust’s madeleine. carcinogenic material. Toulemonde compares the process to plucking it out with tweezers. Upstairs, the laboratory stores 3,000 natural and synthetic ingredients in a walk-in cooler; perfumers use them to initiate or finish projects. Although making synthetic ingredients is not a major activity in Grasse, they have been an essential tool of the trade as far back as the creation of Guerlain’s Jicky in 1889. (One of the earliest perfumes to combine natural and synthetic elements, Jicky is commonly considered the first modern fragrance.) “I don’t differentiate between natural and synthetic ingredients,” says Jean-Claude Ellena. A native of Grasse and one of the city’s most famous residents, he is currently the in-house perfumer for Hermès and the talent behind legendary scents such as First for Van Cleef & Arpels and Bulgari’s Thé Vert. “Before the 19th century,” he explains, “artists who painted with


Paris’s Memo boutique.

an expanding niche Grasse’s Musée International de la Parfumerie showcases the history of fragrance but also contemporary trends, such as perfume with notes of fruit and candy, the modern practice of scenting everything from car seats to condoms, and one of the biggest developments of the past decade: niche perfumes.

After World WAr II, new players entered the perfume industry (notably the United States), fragrances became more affordable, and this onceelite product went mass market, with an estimated 700 perfume launches in 2007 alone. Now, a more exclusive category of perfumes has emerged. These niche brands forgo advertising, have limited distribution and emphasize what’s in the bottle rather than the bottle itself. Like fashion designers or haute-cuisine chefs, these maîtres parfumeurs enjoy widespread name recognition. Some even have a fan base, judging from the many blogs now devoted to perfume. “I create for myself, for my pleasure,” says one of the most famous, Jean-Claude Ellena. “If I think 30

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Rose Praline by Le Parfum de Rosine.

Serge Lutens and his exotic creations.

I’ve done good work, I put my scent on the market and hope it will be a success.” Not every perfumer enjoys such creative freedom in a business where marketing people often have the last say. Several of these independent companies were launched by noses who had worked for larger perfume makers; others are headed by enthusiastic outsiders who commission their scents from a roster of talent. Often, individuals behind the brands are scions of French luxury families: Guerlain, Hennessy and Ricci, to name a few. So many niche houses have now entered the marketplace that the category name is becoming a misnomer. (Check out the The Scent Room at Le Printemps department store, where you’ll discover no fewer than 25 independent labels.) Prices range from just above that of the average mass-market brand to several hundred euros— the point at which they spin off into another, even more exclusive sub-category that Ellena calls “parfumerie haute couture.”

born in 1989: parfums de nicolaï, where Patricia de Nicolaï (a Guerlain descendant) produces luxurious fragrances, including Les Magnifiques, that boast a high concentration of essential oils. Another early entrant to the niche industry was Annick Goutal, a former pianist and model who discovered a passion for fragrances after meeting a Grasse perfumer. She opened a shop on the rue de Bellechasse in 1980 and sold it to Taittinger in 1985. She died in 1999, at the young age of 53. Her daughter, Camille, now runs the business, along with perfumer Isabelle Doyen. diptyque has become famous for its scented candles, but the company’s three founders have been making eaux de toilette for 40 years. The fragrances are unusual and addictive (such as L’Ombre dans l’Eau, with notes of rose and black currant), and come in big, generous bottles. A British private-equity fund bought Diptyque in 2005; fortunately, there has been no noticeable effect on the label’s originality.

one of the pIoneers of niche perfumes was Jean Laporte, who created l’Artisan parfumeur back in 1976. The company still considers itself a fringe player, but that’s debatable given that it now has boutiques around the world and is owned by an American holding company. Laporte himself left in 1989 to found Maître parfumeur et Gantier, making fragrances redolent of the 17th century as well as bespoke gloves (it is now run by Jean-Paul Millet Lage). Its rue de Grenelle shop is just a few steps away from another niche brand

the MIllennIuM yeAr sAW numerous entries into the niche market. Artistic director Serge Lutens and Shiseido, which had been collaborating since 1992, created parfums serge lutens, available worldwide. Lutens’s exotic, spicy creations reflect his adopted home, Marrakesh. And Frédéric Malle, whose grandfather co-founded Dior perfumes, launched editions de parfums frédéric Malle, giving free rein to a roster of great noses, including Maurice Roucel and Jean-Claude Ellena. It was (and still is) a runaway


Kilian’s Straight to Heaven.

success. Ellena himself co-created The Different Company in 2000, with expensive, high-end perfumes and a newly opened boutique in the Marais. His daughter Céline took over as perfumer in 2005, when he left to work at Hermès. Francis Kurkdjian, who made his name with bestsellers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Le Mâle, created his own workshop in 2001. He’s also the nose behind the brand Indult, sold by subscription only. And perfumer Aliénor Massenet works for the multinational IFF but moonlights for a small new company called Memo; created in 2007, Memo has a boutique on rue des Saint-Pères. Exotic locations inspire its fragrances, such as Inlé, named for a Burmese lake. Then there’s Stéphanie de Saint Aignan, a young perfumer with a nose for fresh scents and a store in the upper Marais; Romano Ricci, Nina’s great grandson, who created the girly collection Juliette Has a Gun in 2007; James Heeley, an English designer living in Paris who in 2003 started to make fragrances sold in watertight containers that can be recycled as vases, and Pierre Guillaume, whose Parfumerie Générale makes numbered juices that first hit the market in 2002. Many of these are available at Evody, a shop on rue Saint-André des Arts that stocks a variety of small labels. The store’s mother-daughter owners recently decided—why not?—to start their own fragrance line, which came out this past winter. In 2006, Etienne de Swardt (the man behind the canine fragrance Oh My Dog) launched the sassy Etat Libre d’Orange, located on the rue

Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian.

des Archives. He commissions perfumers including Antoine Maisondieu (grandson of Albert Camus) to create unisex scents that are much more tasteful than their labels would imply: Jasmin et Cigarette, Putain des Palaces (Luxury Hotel Whore) and the sex-and-adrenaline charged Sécrétions Magnifiques, to name a few. Kilian Hennessy, the dapper young grandson of the founder of the LVMH group, grew up sniffing Cognac. He opened his company, By Kilian, in 2007, with a début collection titled L’Oeuvre Noire. His elixirs are divine and expensive, created by a range of perfumers and sold in black bottles. He himself wears Straight to Heaven, a combination of Martinique rum absolute, nutmeg, patchouli and white musk. YET OTHER NICHE PERFUMES channel the allure of a bygone era. Histoires de Parfums appeared in 2000, with fragrances reflecting the personalities (and named for the birth years) of such famous figures as George Sand, Jules Verne, Casanova and the Marquis de Sade. In 2003, Corsican perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato created Parfum d’Empire, dreaming up olfactory homages to great civilizations and empires from Rome to czarist Russia. Others have revived legendary brands that had disappeared from the marketplace. Lubin, once favored by the Princess Borghese, went out of business in the 1980s but came back to life in 2005 with Idole, a concoction of rum, saffron, bitter orange and black cumin. Lubin’s creative director

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Chasse aux Papillons.

is Olivia Giacobetti, who also created the Costes fragrance and perfume for a label named Iunx (both are sold next to the Hôtel Costes). MarieHélène Rogeon, whose grandfather worked in Paul Poiret’s atelier, decided in 1991 to bring back the fashion designer’s perfume legacy, Les Parfums de Rosine. She has developed her own range of 16 scents with the perfumer François Robert, all based on roses and sold in a boutique in the Place du Palais Royal. Then there’s Jovoy, which dates from the 1920s and was reborn in 2006 with a new line of seven fragrances called Les Sept Parfums Capitaux (a play on the Seven Deadly Sins). Jovoy’s most recent creation is called Terra Incognita, made with white flowers and Rooibos tea. Creed once perfumed Queen Victoria and now offers a Private Collection line, ultra-exclusive scents that cost as much as €200 a bottle. Also on the (very) high end is Paris-based American, Joel Arthur Rosenthal, a.k.a. JAR. Possibly the world’s highest-end jeweler, he started creating weird, wonderful perfumes a few years ago. They’re available at his tiny shop on rue de Castiglione and also at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. Aside from royalty and oil tycoons, few clients today have the €30,000 on hand to pay for a custom-made scent, though a number of houses offer this service, including L’Artisan Parfumeur, Francis Kurkdjian, Patou and Guerlain. A cheaper alternative for seekers of the totally unique is to buy a few different perfumes and layer them. Nobody will ever guess what you’re wearing—and you’ll be in a niche all your own. —AS Franc e • wi n t e r 2 0 0 8 -0 9

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Bonnard’s Interiors Underrated during his lifetime, Pierre Bonnard has been the subject of major museum shows in recent years and is now considered a major talent of the 20th century. A new exhibit at the Met highlights yet another aspect of his oeuvre.

By Sara Romano

“The French Window (Morning at Le Cannet)” (1932) is one of Bonnard’s many depictions of his small house at Le Cannet. It contains many elements typical of the artist’s late work, notably his wife Marthe, seated at the table in the foreground with an indistinguishable figure behind her, and a lush Mediterranean landscape seen through the window. 32

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T

hroughout his career, Pierre Bonnard’s talent was grossly underestimated. And that’s putting it nicely.

In Life with Picasso, Françoise Gilot recalls the Spanish artist saying of Bonnard, “That’s not painting, what he does. He never goes beyond his own sensibility. He doesn’t know how to choose ...The result is a potpourri of indecision.” Still other peers wrote him off as a has-been, an Impressionist copycat, a maker of quaint, bourgeois pictures who ignored the social and political convulsions going on around him. Indeed, during the run-up to World War I—while Picasso was busy denouncing civil war in his seminal “Guernica,” and Salvador Dalî was composing nightmarish visions of melted clocks—Bonnard was producing delicately speckled landscapes and interiors. ‘‘Bonnard matured at a period of time in French art when Surrealism, Fauvism and Dada were all in full swing, so he was an absolute anomaly in that context,” explains Dita Amory, curator of the exhibition “Pierre Bonnard: The Late Interiors” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (January 27 to April 19). “I don’t think he was given his due in his day.” Even after his death in 1947 at age 80, the painter was long overlooked. Family squabbles over the ownership of the art he left behind meant that those works were in escrow and unknown to the public until the 1960s, when the dispute was finally settled. It was not until 1984 that the tide began to turn in Bonnard’s favor. The French curator and art historian Jean Clair’s exhibition at the Centre Pompidou—“Bonnard: Les dernières années”—traveled the world and opened minds to the wonders of Bonnard. In the two decades that followed, a succession of shows—including those at London’s Tate Gallery, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris—boosted Bonnard’s standing in the art world and sparked a burst of public and critical interest. John Elderfield, MoMA’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at the time of its 1998 Bonnard retrospective, expressed this new way of looking at the artist. “On the surface, Bonnard’s paintings appear to 34

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ABOVE: The artist in front of one of his paintings,

wearing his trademark wire-rimmed glasses. RIGHT: “Dining Room Overlooking the Garden (The

Breakfast Room)” (1930-1931) is one of Bonnard’s most characteristic interiors. The table is given nearly as much space as the leafy exterior seen through the tall windows. Marthe, the only human figure in the painting, appears almost as an afterthought.

gently extend the art of the Impressionists,” he wrote in his introduction to the show. “Looked at more closely, they are far more extreme. At first sight, their subject matter is solely the behavior of people and the effects of light in scenes from what often looks like an intensely private existence. To spend time in front of these paintings, however, is to see them change. Figures and objects will move in and out of the viewer’s attention, as each painting seems to present an analysis of the processes of seeing and remembering.” What the MoMA show and all the other exhibitions had in common was an abundance of pictures showing Bonnard’s wife, Marthe, in a white tub. Bonnard made around 150 such paintings, so they were a lasting leitmotif. The Metropolitan exhibition will be different. “You can’t leave a Bonnard exhibition without that resonant memory of Marthe in the bath over and over again,” Amory says. “I thought I would do an exhibition of late interiors without Marthe in the bath, to look at his technique and methodology.” In quality, she asserts, his interiors rank as highly as his celebrated bathtub scenes. Visitors to the exhibition may well agree.

Bonnard was born into a well-to-do family–his father was bureau chief at the war ministry—and he excelled at the elite Paris lycées he attended. He was especially strong in literature, Latin, Greek and philosophy, and dabbled in drawing. “The Seine in


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Paris,” a nuanced watercolor done at age 14, offers proof of the young part-time in the Registry Office and later was employed by the Seine boy’s sure hand. district’s public prosecutor. But little by little, he devoted ever more Pierre did as his father asked and studied law, obtaining his de- of his time and energy to art. An 1890 exhibition of Japanese art so gree at the precocious age of 21. Yet art also started creeping into his dazzled him that, inspired by what he had seen, he showed five paintcurriculum. He took classes at the famed Académie Julian and was ings and four panels at the Salon des Indépendants in March 1891. That same month marked Bonnard’s triumph over the humdrum admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. “What appealed to me was less art itself,” he later confessed, “than the artist’s life and all that it meant middle-class existence he so dreaded: The artist finally proved that he for me: the idea of creativity and freedom of expression and action. I could make a living from his art. The yellow poster he designed for had been attracted to painting and drawing for a long time, but it was the France-Champagne company earned him a comfortable sum and not an irresistible passion; what I wanted at all costs was to escape the the attention of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who became a friend. (Toulouse-Lautrec’s own posters, which came afterward, seem almost monotony of life.” Bonnard began that escape when he met four young men at the derivative.) “I earned one hundred francs,” Bonnard boasted to his Beaux-Arts who were to become lifelong friends. Their names were mother. “I was proud to have it in my pocket!” Bonnard père was just Maurice Denis, Paul Serusier, Ker-Xavier Roussel and Edouard Vuil- as proud, reputedly dancing in the garden when he heard the news. The young painter promptly cut short his law career and made art lard, and together they formed an art movement that adopted Paul Gauguin’s bold choice of color and line. The gang became known “To spend time in front of Bonnard’s paintings as Les Nabis (after the Hebrew/ is to see them change. Figures and objects move Arabic word for “prophet”). in and out of the viewer’s attention.” At the time, Bonnard worked 36

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Villa Le Bosquet

The Most Intimate Interior

LEFT: “Breakfast” (c. 1930) features an extreme close-up of Marthe, pouring herself tea. Her features blend in with the impressionistically dotted background, the pattern of the tablecloth and the large motif on the jug before her. TOP, ABOVE: “Basket of Fruit: Oranges and Persimmons” (c. 1940) and “Basket of Fruit” (c. 1930) appear almost two-dimensional against the flat surface of the table.

his full-time profession. He rented a Paris studio that he shared with Vuillard and Denis, and presented two paintings in the 1892 Salon des Indépendants. From the beginning, Bonnard’s art focused on the everyday, the commonplace, the familiar—domestic surroundings, street scenes, next of kin. Like Japanese prints, his compositions pushed figures away from the center toward the edge, sometimes showing just a torso, a shoulder or an elbow, as if they were framed by a camera’s viewfinder. He also made decorative living-room panels and even designed ornamental plates. In The Shock of the New (Knopf, 1995), critic Robert Hughes calls Bonnard an “intimist.” “He was stirred by small, natural scenes of domestic life, where people were caught unguarded and objects became actors in a drama—but not necessarily a comedy—of little events.” Bonnard himself acknowledged as much in a 1943 interview. “I float between Intimism and decoration; one can’t change how one is made.”

In 1893, the young painter met Maria Boursin, a blue-eyed brunette who preferred to call herself Marthe de Méligny. She had a light, graceful walk and a sensuous body. She also suffered

“You will find our house on avenue Victoria; it is the highest street in the neighborhood—the house is pink.” Those were the directions that Pierre Bonnard gave when he invited Henri Matisse to his villa in Le Cannet. Bonnard loved the little house that he bought in 1926 and renamed Le Bosquet (The Grove). He stayed there often in the late 1920s and ’30s, and in 1939, fleeing war and occupation in Paris, made it his permanent home, spending his final years there with his wife on the lush hills overlooking Cannes. Today the villa is exactly as he left it; walking around it is like climbing into a time machine. You feel Bonnard’s presence at every turn— picture him sitting on the garden bench, cradling his dachshund in the dining room or working on one of several canvases in the upstairs studio. Inside the dining room cupboard are the Vallauris vases in which he kept his paintbrushes. “He painted what was familiar to him, mostly the objects in that very modest house,” says Dita Amory, curator of the Bonnard exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “You’ll be stunned when you see that he made these pictures in those rooms, with their low ceilings and very very spare interiors.” Stunned is right. To those familiar with the paintings, these Mediterranean interiors offer a dizzying sense of déjà vu—especially the minuscule bathroom, no more than a few feet wide, where he watched his wife bathe then depicted her from memory as the twentysomething young woman he first courted. The white clawfoot tub is still there, to the despair of local plumbers who are regularly called in to repair it. Everything is as it was six decades ago—squeezed into the tiniest of spaces, so much smaller than the painter made it seem. The atelier creates an equally vertiginous effect. Its left wall still bears the marks made by the thumbtacks that Bonnard used to pin up his canvases side by side before painting them over and over. On this plain, barren wall, he composed the masterpieces that today fetch millions in the world’s auction houses. The brown table was where he placed his dirtied palettes and paintbrushes; a few still sit on the shelf above. Another wall has a band of dazzling blues

and yellows left over from his day; their origin is a mystery. In the back garden, a tree stump with a few flowerless branches fights for its life. This is the almond tree in Bonnard’s last painting, “Almond Tree in Blossom.” He was so weak by the time he created it that he asked his nephew to paint over the green strip in the bottom left-hand corner with yellow. Bonnard’s bedroom is of monklike simplicity. The Piranesi print you see in his self-portraits still hangs on the wall; the sink and window are as they were when he lived there. The feeling of solitude is overpowering. As for Marthe’s room, he refused to go into it after her death, and visitors are still discouraged from doing so. In the summer, the descendants of Bonnard’s nephews occupy the house and use it as a summer residence. The rest of the year, the house is looked after by Michel and Jeannine Martin, an amiable retired couple who both had a career in book printing. Michel Martin, who worked at the Imprimeries Nationales, befriended Bonnard’s greatnephew Michel Terrasse when the two were working on a book about Bonnard. Terrasse invited the couple to visit the Bonnard house, and, though they live elsewhere, they are now its devoted custodians, patiently showing visiting scholars and journalists­around and flipping open the pages of books to compare the reality with the paintings. “To us, he is the greatest of painters,” says Michel Martin, who believes that Bonnard will receive even more recognition in the years to come. In 2007, the government classified the Bonnard house as a monument historique. Though it is flanked by large, modern apartment building, its new status ensures that this extraordinary time capsule will remain intact. — SR

A view of Bonnard’s studio, photographed by Brassaï. Franc e • wi n t e r 2 0 0 8 -0 9

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“Marthe must have been a strange character. People called her his model, his muse, his jailer.” from a depressive condition that drove her to take frequent baths and made her housebound. “She must have been a strange character,” muses Amory. “People called her his model, his muse, his jailer.” Marthe moved in with Bonnard, who started painting her from every possible angle and never stopped. Childless, she cut all ties with her family. During their early years together, we see her sprawled across a bed in languid post-coital scenes. In later stages, she appears in his diningroom interiors or taking one of her long baths. “Hydrotherapy was very fashionable in her day,” says Amory. “She bathed all the time.” In the early years of the 20th century, Bonnard, who loved sailing, driving and walking, took Marthe with him on regular tours of Europe and North Africa. They crisscrossed France, too, looking for a place that would suit her frail health. Eventually they settled in the countryside between Paris and Normandy, where Bonnard painted prolifically. Picking up where the Impressionists had left off, he used a glistening palette of colors to paint works that blended exteriors and 38

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interiors, showing landscapes from inside a home, through a window or a half-open door. When it came time to hit the road, he rolled up the canvases and tied them to the roof of the car; some are said to have bird droppings on the back. From 1906 onward, his canvases were shown once a year at the Galerie BernheimJeune in Paris, bolstering his reputation. The horrors of World War I never infiltrated Bonnard’s art. Nor did he pay much heed to the turn-of-the-century “ism’s” mushrooming around him. He went about his own artistic explorations, painstakingly working his canvases over and over again, sometimes completing them a decade or two after they were first begun. Though Bonnard was deeply devoted to Marthe, she was not

ABOVE: “Young Women in the Garden (Renée Monchaty and Marthe

Bonnard)” (c. 1921-23; reworked 1945-46) depicts the two women in Bonnard’s life. His affair with Monchaty, interrupted by Marthe, led the former to commit suicide. RIGHT: “Portrait of the Artist in the Bathroom Mirror (Self Portrait)” (1939-1945) shows an aging figure peering into the mirror above his bedroom sink.


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The Musée Bonnard, slated to open in 2010, will be housed in the elegant Hôtel Saint-Vianney.

the only woman in his life. In 1918, he invited a young and attractive blond model by the name of Renée Monchaty into his studio and painted some 20 portraits of her. They became lovers and three years later traveled to Rome together. She is pictured in his painting “Piazza del Popolo” and in another, next to Marthe—“Young Women in the Garden (Renée Monchaty and Marthe Bonnard)”— that is included in the Metropolitan show. When Marthe made Bonnard put an end to the relationship, Monchaty took her own life. The artist was so saddened by the news that it took him 20 years to complete “Young Women in the Garden.”

In 1939, the Bonnards moved to Le Cannet, a village in the hilltops above Cannes. Bonnard had first visited the Côte d’Azur in 1909 and had been awed by the place, calling it “a taste of The Thousand and One Nights: the sea, the walls, the yellows, the colored light and its reflections...!” In 1926, he finally bought a house there, christened Villa Le Bosquet. He and Marthe regularly vacationed in Le Cannet before making it their permanent home. Once they settled into Villa Le Bosquet, they led a shuttered existence. Marthe prevented him from seeing friends or socializing much; the dog’s daily walks provided an alibi for quick meetings with friends. “On the one hand, she circumscribed his life,” says Amory. “On the other hand, her illness allowed him to paint all day and all night without interruption.” He painted Marthe not as the old and ailing woman she had become but as the long-limbed, slim-waisted woman he first fell in love with. Wedded to the memory of that initial infatuation, Bonnard re-created it over and over again on canvas. Memory was his main device for reproducing other scenes too. He drew in a little book on daily walks around the town and often worked compositions on those tiny pages. But he never painted scenes directly, not even those of his own home or wife; he always reconstituted everything back in his studio. “It’s just extraordinary that these paintings all came from his mind, his imagination and his memory of the rooms, of the props, of the figures,” says Amory. The paintings done at Le Cannet feature prominently in the Metropolitan exhibition. Beside the innumerable still lifes—apples, cherries, flowers and assorted fruits laid out in a basket, on the table or on the mantelpiece of the villa—there are intimate interiors that show how Bonnard, though approaching 80, was at the height of his artistic powers. 40

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The Musée Bonnard

LE CANNET’S “CRAzY IDEA” IS ALMOST A REALITY Think back to your last visit to the Côte d’Azur. Chances are you spent an afternoon at one of the museums that have popped up along the coast in honor of the many great painters who lived or worked here: the Matisse or Chagall museums in Nice, the Picasso museum in Antibes, the Renoir museum in Cagnes-sur-Mer. Yet one significant artist has been overlooked, even though he spent the last eight years of his life in the area and painted it extensively. That artist is neglected no more. Pierre Bonnard, who produced some of his finest works in the hills of Le Cannet, will have his own on-site museum here sometime in 2010. The Musée Bonnard will be housed in the Hôtel Saint-Vianney, an elegant mansion surrounded by palm trees. The building will get two modern extensions: a lateral wing with stairs and elevators, and an entrance area with ticket counters. The price tag: €3.55 million, with funds coming from local and regional government as well as, it is hoped, gifts from individuals, collectors and philanthropists. Le Cannet’s mayor, Michèle Tabarot, started lobbying for the project immediately after her election in 1995. “It was a really crazy idea at the start because Le Cannet had plenty of good will and lots of good ideas but didn’t own a single Bonnard painting,” says Yves Pigrenet, the town’s deputy mayor. “We had to start from scratch.” Tabarot decided to get the Bonnard name out in the best possible way: by staging exhibit after exhibit inside a former chapel redubbed “L’Espace Bonnard.”

Well-curated shows of Bonnard’s drawings, of photographs (taken of or by him), of his relationship with Matisse and of the posters he designed in his youth pulled in visitors by the carload. Perhaps as a result, Tabarot’s museum project got the Culture Ministry’s backing four years ago, and in 2007, the future Musée Bonnard was granted the prestigious Musée de France label. Also in 2007, Bonnard’s house—the site that lends the museum its legitimacy—was given the status of a monument historique. Now, curators are going around the world’s top auction houses shopping for Bonnards to ensure that the museum—which concentrates on the works done of or in Le Cannet—is not an empty shell. The collection already counts 25 drawings; a dozen photographs of Bonnard, taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Brassaï, among others; two original posters he designed; three lithographs; and six oil paintings, including “Les Baigneurs à la fin du jour” (1945). One of his last compositions, it shows bathers in the sea and was bought at Christie’s London for €1.3 million. A generous private donor, the Fondation Philippe Meyer, contributed two of the paintings in the collection. Its status as a national museum means that the Musée Bonnard can now angle to get some of the many Bonnard paintings in the state’s collection, which are scattered among museums in Dijon, Besançon, Nice, Paris and even the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. Says Eric Munos, the official in charge of cultural affairs at Le Cannet town hall, “We are here to remind the government, in case it forgets, that we all need to work together to honor Bonnard.” — SR For more information on the future museum and on how to donate, write to museebonnard@mairie-lecannet.fr.

One of these is “Dining Room Overlooking the Garden (The Breakfast Room)” 1930-31, on loan from MoMA. This painting mixes the indoors and the outdoors in a way that is quintessential Bonnard. The eye is first drawn to the luxuriant view from the bay window: a cluster of leafy trees towering over the terrace wall. Then the eye moves inside, to an almost two-dimensional depiction of a broad breakfast table: a porcelain teapot, a sugar bowl, a jar of jam, a wicker bread basket, a plate of fruit. Only then does the viewer notice a figure lurking in the left corner of the canvas, a shrinking woman whose right arm is cut off by the picture frame and whose right hand clutches a teacup. As pale and white as the


From the beginning, Bonnard’s art focused on the everyday, the commonplace, the familiar— domestic surroundings, street scenes, next of kin. tablecloth, she fades, literally, into the wallpaper behind. This is Marthe, shown in the living room of a house where the couple stayed so she could attend a sanatorium. It is also Bonnard in a nutshell: the merger of exterior and interior, the focus on the mundane meal, the dazzling kaleidoscope of color, and the semiinclusion of the human figure, both present and mysteriously absent. Bonnard never tired of these domestic settings. (Someone once asked him to paint a still life of a ceramic jug with some wild flowers, but he refused, saying he hadn’t looked at the jug long enough and didn’t know it well enough.) To a first-time viewer, however, the paintings may seem repetitive, their theme monotonous. “You need to look at them for an extended period of time,” Amory recommends. “You see things you don’t see at the beginning. There are often amorphous, undefined objects in his paintings, even people awho don’t appear human.” Marthe died in 1942. Bonnard’s grief is palpable in his “Portrait ABOVE: In “White Interior” (1932), a chair, a door, a heater, a balcony

and a table compete to be the subjects in the same crowded frame; Marthe’s bent figure is virtually invisible at first glance.

of the Artist in the Bathroom Mirror” (1939-45), a self-portrait which he began before her death and completed afterward. A balding, emaciated old man peers at his reflection in what seems a countdown to mortality. Bonnard was so devastated that a nephew came to live with him, helping him complete his last painting, “Almond Tree in Blossom.” Within five years, Bonnard had passed away as well, and in the ensuing years was often dismissed as a minor painter. Matisse, however, was among those who thought otherwise and said so. When the art historian Christian Zervos wrote a harsh piece in the review Cahier d’art in 1947 entitled “Is Pierre Bonnard a great painter?” an incensed Matisse scrawled an angry reply on his copy of the article: “Yes! I certify that Pierre Bonnard is a great painter for today and assuredly for the future.” Exactly how great will be in evidence at the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition. “Pierre Bonnard: The Late Interiors” is sponsored by the Florence Gould Foundation.The exhibit runs from January 27 through April 19, 2009, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY. metmuseum.org Franc e • wi n t e r 2 0 0 8 -0 9

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“Cognac geeks are everywhere!” says Alexandre Gabriel, owner of Pierre Ferrand Cognac. “Not only in big cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but all across the country.” Gabriel should know. His firm is acknowledged as one of the most successful of the niche Cognacs prized by aficionados who seek out the rare, the unique, the extraordinary. The growing popularity of these small brands is but one of the latest trends in an industry that goes back more than three centuries. LA ROCHELLE

Another trend is Cognac cocktails. Ben Reed, the renowned British mixologist, says that Cognac is perfect for mixed drinks because every brand has its own combination of aromatic and flavor components. To create a new cocktail, he simply identifies one of the many elements—citrus fruit, chocolate, ginger, coffee—and either accentuates it or mixes it with complementary flavors. Flavien Desoblin, founder of the fabled Brandy Library in New York’s Tribeca, has his own theory about Cognac’s growing fan base. “People don’t like to drink the same drinks their parents did,” he explains. “For today’s younger generations, it was their grandparents—not their parents—who drank Cognac, so they are open to it.” Desoblin has even noticed a spike in demand for the Sidecar, that retro-yet-wonderful blend of Cognac, Cointreau and fresh lemon juice. Who drinks Cognac and how they drink it may vary from generation to generation, but one thing remains constant: Cognac’s uncontested status as the noblest of brandies and the finest distilled spirit in the world. Its preeminence derives largely from the fact that it is made from grapes, which are far more complex than the grains used in other spirits. The first whiff of even the cheapest Cognac reveals its unique fruitiness, nuttiness and floral delicacy— traits that are multiplied a hundredfold in older Cognacs. Indeed, the other key to Cognac’s superiority is its ability to transform and become more complex with age, the best reaching their peak after 30 years or more. Like grand cru wines, Cognac owes much of its success to its

unique terroir—the nature of the soil and subsoil, the climate and micro-climates and other conditions that can vary from one plot to another. One of the great joys of drinking Cognac is that its characteristics are determined by its precise place of origin, giving enthusiasts literally hundreds of different tastes to discover. Although wine has been made in Cognac since Roman times, it wasn’t until the 16th century that the Dutch provided the basis for the spirit as we know it today. At the time, they were in the market for liquor for their sailors and realized that brandy—what they called “burnt wine” or “brandewijn”—took up much less space 44

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Grande Champagne Petite Champagne Borderies

Fins Bois

Bons Bois

Bois ordinaires & Bois communs

COGNAC ANGOULEME

CoGNAC’S UNiqUe Terroir The map of the AOC Cognac region shows a series of concentric rings encircling the town of Cognac, extending from the Bay of Biscay on the south and west to the town of Angoulême, more than 75 miles to the east. This area is blessed with a very mild climate—never too dry, too hot or too cold—an essential element in the Cognac equation. Equally important is the chalky soil, hence the names Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. (The word “champagne” comes from “Campania,” an Italian region north of Rome known as far

back as Roman times for its chalkiness.) Virtually all the finest Cognacs come from the deeply chalky soils of the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne; these are the brandies that can age more than 15 years and have the highest levels of concentration, depth and complexity. After 20 years, they develop a special quality the French call “rancio”—a taste that combines almonds, other nuts, raisins, sultanas and candied fruits. The far bigger surrounding circles on both sides of the river are all named after the Bois, the woods that flourished on the slopes before vines were planted. Many of the brandies from the inner circle, the Fins Bois, are deliciously floral and elegant as are a few from the next circle, the Bons Bois. Those from the outermost circle, the Bois Ordinaires, however, are inevitably pretty thin. Lucky for Cognac’s reputation, virtually all the vines in the Bois Ordinaires have been uprooted. There is one exception to the rule that deep chalk is the essential element for any fine Cognac: It’s the Borderies, a small rectangle of land north of Cognac, where the soil is a mix of clay and chalk and the Cognacs are very special, very spicy and rather nutty. They are frequently used in small quantities to strengthen the character of many — NF blended brandies.

onboard than wine, given that distillation concentrates it into a mere eighth of its original volume. Europeans had been distilling wine since the 12th century, and the acid wines produced on the chalky slopes overlooking the Charente River near the little town of Cognac turned out to be ideal for this purpose. Typically, wines and other raw materials require so many distillations to remove impurities that all traces of the original


RÊmy Martin’s gently rolling vineyards lie in the very heart of the prestigious Grande Champagne region.


Cognac grapes are distilled only twice. Some are aged in Limousin oak, renowned for the rich flavors it imparts to the spirit. Clockwise from left: Rémy Martin’s distillery room; demijohns at Martell containing Vieille Champagne 1830; aging brandy is sampled with a glass vial known as a prouvette; a traditional copper still at Martell; oak barrels at Rémy Martin; Rémy Martin’s cellar master, Pierrette Trichet; clear liquid obtained from the second distillation; barrels of Grande Champagne at the Martell cellar.

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taste are lost. The Dutch discovered that Cognac grapes need only two distillations, enabling them to retain the fruit’s flavors. They At first glance, producing Cotechniques. Some distill the wine 40 to 200 years and packaged promptly imported Swedish copper gnac appears to be simplicity with its lees to produce slightly in handcrafted Baccarat stills, matured the spirits in casks itself. Virtually all the wine rericher cognacs; others rarely or decanters. Of course, such rare made from local oak and voilà! quired for distillation is made never do. Some use Limousin Cognacs are available only in from a single grape variety, oak from local forests to speed minute quantities. They had “invented” Cognac. the Ugni Blanc, an acidic, unup the maturation process; othIndeed, there is only one, Smoother and more flavorful than interesting grape that does ers prefer the denser, less poLouis XIII from Rémy Martin, its rivals, the spirit quickly estabnot mature until the middle of rous Trançais oak from central that is sold in any quantity. lished a premium over brandies September. The resulting wine France because it ages brandy The brandies that make up is weak—anything over 10 demore slowly. Nearly all use new the blend, all from the Grande made in other wine-growing areas. grees produces rather flabby oak—some for only a month, Champagne, have matured in Success for such a “premium brandies—and is distilled others for up to a year—before casks in special cellars for more drink” required a market prepared twice in small copper stills transferring the brandy to older than half a century, losing 90 to pay a premium price. That marsimilar to those used in Scotcasks. Yet one house, Delamain, percent of their volume in the tish malt whisky. The process never uses new oak. process. The result can only be ket turned out to be London. In is based on the simple fact that At their best, these carefully described as amazing. On the the late-17th century, “Cognac alcohol evaporates at a lower aged brandies have an extraornose as on the palate, there’s brandy” was one of a number of temperature than water. As a dinary complexity and depth—as a touch of wood holding tofine drinks—along with Chamresult, the fumes can be capwell as being so “long” that an gether a brandy that has a depth tured and cooled, then emerge empty glass will retain traces of of rancio that is unequalled in pagne, claret, sherry and port— from the vat as a strong, raw— their aromas overnight. Some of my experience. This is a Cognac that were popular with the thirsty but aromatically fruity—brandy. those available today are from a to be sniffed at length, then young aristocrats at the court of It is then matured in small single cask hoarded for generaslowly sipped while marveling King Charles II, the “Merry Monoak casks. tions; others such as Hennessy’s at an achievement that brings Yet throughout the process, Richard are made in tiny quantitogether man and nature at arch” who had returned to the each firm employs subtly different their finest. — NF ties from eaux-de-vie aged from throne in 1660 after a decade of dour Puritanism. Even then, Cognac was perceived as something special. In the famous words of author Samuel Johnson, “Claret is a period that saw the emergence of the Big Four, which then prothe liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero duced more than four of every five bottles of Cognac. Martell and Hennessy were joined by Courvoisier, famous as the brandy drunk must drink brandy.” The café society of 17th-century London liked their Cognac by both Napoleon I and Napoleon III, and Rémy Martin, the neat as well as in long drinks. B&S—brandy and soda—remained a only house founded by a local, André Renaud. Then as now, the favorite nightcap for generations of Britons. It was drunk the same Big Four distilled some of their wines themselves while turning to way in early 19th-century America, where it was also enjoyed in smaller firms for additional distilled wines and older Cognacs for mint juleps. In France, fine à l’eau—brandy and water—was long a blending. familiar drink but has now virtually disappeared. Easy success during those postwar boom years bred arrogance. To his credit, André Renaud labeled all Rémy Martin Cognacs Fine As Cognac’s popularity spread across the globe, its success at- Champagne—meaning that at least half of the contents came from tracted the attention of foreign hustlers. One was Jean Martell, the Grande Champagne region, the rest from the Petite Chama former smuggler from the Channel Islands; another was James pagne. But the other three major houses relied exclusively on their Hennessy, a Catholic French army officer who had fled Ireland to brand names, providing consumers with minimal information escape persecution. By the early 19th century, their firms domi- about their brandies. The only indication of age or provenance was nated the world market for Cognac. in the vague terms still required by law, such as VS (Very Special), Both benefited greatly from freer trade between Britain and meaning a minimum of two years in wood; and VSOP (Very SpeFrance and from producers’ newly acquired right to market their cial Old Pale), meaning four years. Even the top ranking XO (eXtra brands in labeled bottles rather than in anonymous casks. Cognac Old) ensured only a mere six years of aging. Then there were the flourished until the 1870s, when its vineyards—along with those other fancy definitions such as Extra, Napoléon and so on. It wasn’t throughout France—were devastated by the phylloxera epidemic. long before Scotch producers, whose labels gave consumers precise For years, scientists searched for rootstocks that were both resistant information regarding the age of their whisky, grabbed a big share to the pesky plant louse and suitable to Cognac’s chalky soils. They of their market, both in France and abroad. Stocks piled up, and finally found them in Denison, Texas, at a nursery belonging to the region was soon mired in overproduction. Thomas Volney Munson. To this day, Munson’s name is revered In the long term, that painful experience was salutory. Since the throughout Cognac. Vineyards were replanted, but it took generations for Cognac to 1970s, farmers have plowed up a third of the 250,000 acres formerly recover from the setback. Even after several decades, the area un- planted with vines, meaning that only the best terroir is now used der cultivation was still not even half the 600,000 acres planted in to grow grapes for Cognac. Moreover, vinification and distillation pre-phylloxera days. Prosperity finally returned after World War II, techniques have improved, and more attention is paid to details

Cognac=brandY+Oak+ Age

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Barrels of Courvoisier Petite and Grande Champagne age quietly in the house’s expansive cellar in Jarnac. Franc e • wi n t e r 2 0 0 8

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such as bottle design. Volume may be lower, but quality has im- The trend was famously expressed by Busta Rhymes in “Pass the Courvoisier, Part I,” where he pleads at the end of every verse— proved dramatically. Each of the Big Four—which still account for 85 percent of regardless of whatever else there is to drink, whatever else is going the region’s production—has developed its own distinctive style. on—to “pass the Courvoisier.” Those produced by Hennessy, far and away the market leader, Of course, the Big Four—and especially Hennessy with its brilliant are rich, while those from Martell tend to be more austere. Rémy marketing machine—have benefited from the publicity provided Martin’s brandies are floral and elegant, those from Courvoisier tend to be sturdy and fruity. was the year color photography St. Germaine liqueur. Through careful blending of hunwas developed. Order the 1820 Those who like their brandy dreds of brandies, each house tries Jacques Hardy Private Reserve, neat won’t find balloon-shaped to faithfully reproduce its signaand you’ll be reminded that this snifters at Brasserie Cognac. ture flavor, year after year. Cognac was bottled when Spain “They concentrate Cognac’s This is not your father’s sold Florida to the United States nose, almost singeing your nose Even more well-defined qualiCognac. So ditch the snifter, for $5 million. André’s French hairs,” says Manager Benjamin ties are found in the Cognacs promothball the cardigan and Restaurant at the Monte Carlo Demarcheiler. “The best glass duced by Hine and Delamain. For please don’t warm it. Cognac Hotel, Las Vegas, 3770 Las Vegas for serving Cognac is Riedel’s centuries the favorite of aristocratic cocktails are the new best Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV; tulip glass. And nobody warms thing—think of this venerable Tel. 702/730-7955. it these days. In fact, our spirit Londoners, they are the most rebrandy as the new vodka. It sommelier says what may well be spected producers of fine brandies. hooks up nicely with just about XO the world’s finest Cognac—Rémy Hine combines fruitiness with eleverything. Cognac cognoscenti in Atlanta Martin 1738—is best served egance, while Delamain displays know the XO in Buckhead’s slightly chilled.” The Brandy Library elegant Intercontinental Hotel. Demarcheiler offers more a unique finesse that comes from With its soft lights, leather banOverlooking Peachtree Street, the than 100 Cognacs by the glass. using only grapes from the Grande quettes, fireplace and warm mabar offers 70 different Cognacs, The oldest is the Pierre Ferrand Champagne and maturing the hogany glow, the Library invites all XO quality. Its best Cognac 1914 vintage, at $187. These spirit exclusively in old casks. scholars and casual imbibers cocktail? According to Bartender days, connoisseurs tend to seek to dip into the classics. Bottles Alex Cobos, it’s the French Conout specialty brands made from The craftsmanship and expense of spirits line the bookshelves nection, made with Hennessy and grapes from a single vineyard. that go into all of these brandies is just waiting to be checked out— Grand Marnier, for $35. Regular But how does a newbie navigate what make Cognac a luxury prodsimply ask a Librarian to pull over customer Frankie Beverly, of R&B this sea of choices? “I usually uct. In addition to a raw material— one of the rolling ladders. Mangroup Frankie Beverly and Maze, suggest Pierre Ferrand Ambré,” ager Ethan Kelly stocks some 230 likes Louis XIII, at $175 a glass. says Demarcheiler. “It’s smooth wine—that costs five times as much Cognacs, including a good seCobos’s favorite: Courvoisier and elegant; women particularly to produce as, say, barley, Cognac lection of rare vintages; many of Napoléon. But Rémy Martin and like it.” His personal favorite? must be stocked and matured for his high-pedigree brands can be Hennessey run a very close sec“That’s easy: Lot 29 by Tesseyears, often for decades before it sipped for $12 to $16 a glass. ond. 3315 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atron. Slightly chalky, extremely The Library also serves 15 lanta, GA; Tel. 404/946-9000. smooth, it’s everything a great is ready for market. The attention different Cognac cocktails, all Cognac should be. I also like paid to packaging reflects the care priced at $13. It recently won PDT Paradis by Hennessey. It’s a that goes into the contents: Bottles the hotly contested Best SideDo Tell. About Please Don’t Tell blend but almost as good as a are of the best quality glass or, in car Award, but its most popular (PDT), the trendy East Side bar single-vineyard Cognac. There’s drink may be the Jarnac Ginger, filled with Prohibition-Era intrigue. not a lot of extravagant packsome cases, crystal; embossed labels a blend of Cognac, lime juice, To find it, head down the stairs of aging; instead, the focus is on are entrusted to only the best printcane sugar and ginger beer. Anpopular hot-dog eatery Crif Dogs, what’s in the bottle.” 1740 Broaders; cork for stoppers is subjected other favorite: the Mixit, with two walk toward the phone booth, way Street, New York, NY; Tel. to intense quality control—even ounces of Cognac and a spoonpress the doorbell. Someone may 212/757-3600. ful of jasmine syrup. No wonder crack open the door. If you’re the caps on the corks are carefully more and more New Yorkers are The LOUNGE in andré’s deemed worthy, you’ll be ushered designed and produced. saying, “Honey, I’ll be at the LiFrenchman André Rochat loves into a modern-day speakeasy While people throughout the brary.” 25 N. Moore Street, New Cognac, so much so that in Januwith dim lights, tufted leather world associate Cognac with luxYork, NY; Tel. 212/226-5545. ary 2009, his renovated lounge booths and exposed brick walls will boast some 300 Cognacs and with a stuffed bear, buck and ury, there are those who still shy BRASSERIE COGNAC a décor reminiscent of Versailles. other very large game. away from it, usually because of A sleek zinc bar and cool tin ceilIndeed, his oldest bottle dates PDT’s best Cognac cocktail? one of two—amusingly opposing give the Brasserie Cognac the back to 1777, when Louis XVI still Manager Jim Meehan recoming—stereotypes: That it is exclulook of a typical Parisian bistro. reigned at that opulent palace. mends the French Maid: Cognac, But peruse the menu and “typiOf course, this extremely rare house-made ginger beer, lime sively sipped after dinner by old cal” disappears—instead of steak brandy costs a king’s ransom: juice and simple syrup served in a men sitting in expensive leather frites, you’ll find cocktails cock$35,000. For the rest of us, there tall glass with cucumber and mint armchairs or that it is drunk only tails cocktails—all for $12. Most will be some 120 Cognacs availfor $13. Anyone interested in exby hip hop musicians seeking to popular is L’Eurasien, a blend of able by the glass. And in a new perimenting with unusual Cognac Rémy Martin, Domaine de Canton twist, Manager Patrick Trundle and food pairing will have a blast: prove they are part of the “bling” (ginger-infused Cognac), ginger will serve them with notes proEverything here—hot dogs, burgculture and can afford the world’s ale and bitters. A top contender is viding historical context. Order ers, potatoes—is deep fried. 113 most expensive spirit (even if they Do-Re-My, made with Rémy Mara glass of Hardy Reserve 1873, St. Marks Place, New York, NY; generally mix it with Coca-Cola). tin, apple juice, Champagne and for instance, and you’ll learn that Tel. 212/614-0386. —Lisa Olson

BEst Bars

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The Summit, created by the world’s top mixologists at the 2008 International Cognac Summit: > Place a lime zest and four thin ginger slices in a glass. > Pour in 3/4 oz. of VSOP Cognac. > Lightly press the lime and ginger two to three times using a pestle. > Fill the glass halfway with ice, then stir well for five seconds. > Pour in 3/4 oz. of VSOP Cognac, add 2 oz. of traditional lemonade and a long strip of cucumber peel. > Stir well for five seconds. Enjoy.

Cognac is gaining favor among trendsetters, particularly as a mixed drink. Clockwise from top: Martell Cosmopolitan; Atlanta’s chic XO Bar; Courvoisier Montpellier Cherry; Courvoisier Exclusif; Martell Raspberry; Courvoisier Saragossa Sour, named for a Napoleonic battle.

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Unique packaging and bottle designs reflect the craftsmanship that goes into producing Cognac. Clockwise from above: A limited edition of Hine in a vintage wooden box; an exclusive limited edition of Rémy Martin V.S.O.P. inspired by Josephine Baker; Camus Extra Elegance; a bottle from Courvoisier’s Erté collector’s edition; Delamain’s Voyage, in a Baccarat bottle.

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Six TO Sip There are several hundred Cognacs from small firms or individual grower-distillers. This sampling gives an idea of their astonishing variety.

thanks to the Folle Blanche component. A natural choice for the house Cognac at the region’s better restaurants. Pierre Ferrand

Paris businessman Alexandre Gabriel is one of the few outsiders to have made it into the inner circle of serious Cognac merchants in recent times. He bought the name Pierre Ferrand from a producer near Segonzac, then started selling brandies exclusively from Angeac, in the heart of the Grande Champagne. He also offers some seriously old single vintages: You want a 1914? He’s got it. Réserve Delicious, aged 20 years, crisp and reminiscent of baked apples. Sélection des Anges The anges (angels) chose well. Long, richly spicy with delicate touches of vanilla and licorice.

Léopold Gourmel

The late Pierrre Voisin was the regional dealer for Fiat cars and tractors. A Cognac devotee, he would buy casks from an especially chalky slope in the Fins Bois. Like many enthusiasts, he soon found he had too much for family use and started to sell the brandies under his wife’s family name. He scorned the usual categories, naming his brandies by their taste—from fruit to flowers to spices—as they matured. Today the firm is run by his sonin-law, Olivier Blanc. Age des Fleurs Aged for 16 years, this is a rich, long, elegant blend of vanilla and, as might be expected, flowers. Age des Epices Round, complex, more than 20 years old with a delicious peppery spiciness.

Interprofessionel de Cognac, the brandy’s ruling body, has created its own cocktail, Summit, made with ginger, lime and lemonade. The other major trend is the rise

in small-house Cognacs. When the Big Four reduced their purchases of young brandies from historic Audry suppliers—the growers and smallTwenty years ago, Bernard Boisscale distillers in the best regions— son inherited the family Cognac new opportunities opened up for business and discovered that these minnows in the Cognac it had been more than 50 years since the house had sold any pond. Many growers started proof its magnificent stock of aged ducing their own Cognacs, and brandies. He’s still mining that small distillers began marketing rich seam of pure gold. their brands more aggressively, creRéserve Spéciale This blend of Grandes and Petites Chamating a new category of niche Copagnes combines delicious fresh gnacs (see sidebar, left). grapiness with a touch of rancio; To the delight of the “Cognac Tesseron 12 to 30 years old. geeks,” there are now some 400 For more than a century, the Exception For once, the name Tesseron family, which also actually makes sense. This Coof these on the market. Many are makes superb wines at Châgnac is 50 years old, and the age Frapin served at New York’s Milk and teau Pontet-Canet and Château shows in its impressive concenThe Frapin family has owned Honey bar. “Small-house Cognacs Lafon-Rochet in the Médoc, tration, depth and length. Château Fontpinot for several as a sipping spirit are alive and has hoarded hundreds of casks centuries. Spread over more of old Cognacs in a romantic Château de Beaulon than 200 acres, it is the bigwell,” says proprietor Sasha Pecrypt beneath an 11th-century By far the most romantic estate gest—and one of the best— traske. “Many customers prefer to church near Cognac. Until in the region, complete with a estates in the region. It’s in steer away from the big names— recently, the Tesserons were picturesque lake. It’s near the the heart of the chalky slopes sometimes it’s a matter of taste, wholesalers but now have Gironde estuary and in the 17th above the little town of Segonreleased a few of their treasures century was the summer resizac, the “capital” of the Grande sometimes it’s because they simply to discerning drinkers, dodging dence of Bishops of Bordeaux. Champagne. The family owes don’t want to be associated with the official ban on providing The owner, Christian Thomas, its fame to Pierre, great‘bling’ culture.” exact ages by “coding” their eschews the otherwise ubiquigrandfather of the present Niche Cognacs all strive to ofage (Lot 90 = 1990). They are tous Ugni Blanc grape in favor owners. He was the first grower one of the few estates to grow of more interesting varieties, to sell his own Cognacs, winning fer something unique, whether it Folle Blanche and Colombard especially the delicious Folle awards from as far afield as is specializing in brandies from grapes in addition to the more Blanche, the predominant CoMadrid and New Orleans. For specific regions or offering singlecommon Ugni Blanc. gnac varietal prior to the phylmore than 50 years, he was vintage Cognacs that express the Lot 90 For the price of a VSOP, loxera epidemic. mayor of Segonzac but resigned you can enjoy a lovely mature 7 years 100 percent Folle in 1941, disgusted by the behavcharacteristics of a particular year. blend with lots of rich earthiness. Blanche—a unique chance to ior of the Nazi occupiers. Typical is Maison Surrenne, which Made from Grande Champagne, savor a Cognac made with the VSOP Not your average VSOP; produces Cognacs from several Petite Champagne and Fins Bois. region’s historic varietal at a older and far more complex. regions—including an 1875 from Lot 53 Deeply rich, plummy in reasonable price. Elegant floral Château Fontpinot XO A percolor and flavor but still fresher notes typical of the Folle Blanche. fect example of a great 35-yearthe Grande Champagne—as well and younger than its age would 12 years Made from a blend of old; a festival of floral and fruity as (relatively) younger ones from suggest. —NF grapes. Yeasty, floral and spicy, aromas and flavors. the Petite Champagne and Borderies. Other standouts are Léopold Gourmel, which makes elegantly by rappers. But all are trying to reach out to other markets, often floral brandies from the Fins Bois, and the Château de Beaulon, by producing expensive specials. These include Courvoisier’s Erté which also offers Fins Bois brandies and is the most beautiful esCollection, in bottles designed by the famous art-deco artist, and tate in the region. Rémy’s limited-edition special VSOP, with a Josephine BakerMost famous of all the estates is Château Fontpinot. Owned inspired label created by award-winning photographer and film by Frapin and located in the heart of the Grande Champagne, it director David LaChapelle. produces a Cognac made solely from grapes grown on the propAnother new Rémy bottling is the smooth and fruity Coeur de erty. Frapin’s latest extravangance is a blend dating back to 1888. Cognac. Designed to be drunk with ice, it is part of an industry- Yes, 1888—it won founder Pierre Frapin a gold medal at the 1889 wide effort to revive Cognac’s image as a flexible drink. In a simi- World’s Fair in Paris. To paraphrase the song in Robert Altman’s lar move, Courvoisier has introduced Exclusif, a special blend film Nashville, the people of Cognac “must be doing something conceived as a base for mixed drinks. Even the Bureau National right to last more than three hundred years.” Franc e • wi n t e r 2 0 0 8 -0 9

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Calendrier

exhibits Los Angeles ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT

The Belles Heures of the Duke of Berry offers a unique opportunity to view one of the finest examples of French medieval manuscript illumination in its unbound form, all of its exquisite details fully accessible to the eye. Commissioned in the early 15th century by one of that era’s greatest patrons of the arts, the book of hours was recently dismantled to allow for restoration and production of a facsimile. The 180 leaves on display contain more than 80 miniature paintings illustrating devotional texts. Through Feb. 8 at the Getty Center; getty.edu.

New York

French Cultural Events in North America

January-March 2009

• Corneille Van Clève’s “Leda and the Swan” (c. 1680-1690), a highlight of “Cast in Bronze,” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

season highlights In the 16th century, thanks largely to Italian artists working at the court of François I, the French came to appreciate bronze for its aesthetic rather than simply utilitarian properties. During the next 300 years, the art of the bronze flourished in France in myriad incarnations, from statuettes to royal monuments. Today, however, the names of most of its leading practitioners are known only to connoisseurs. A case in point is Corneille Van Clève (1645-1732), whose career included serving as Chancellor of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture and creating numerous pieces for Versailles, notably the gilt bronze high altar in the chapel. His “Leda and the Swan,” above, is one of 125 works featured in C ast in B ronze : F rench S culpture from R enaissance to R evolution , the culmination of a decade-long effort by curators and scholars to shed light on this underappreciated subject. Feb. 24 through May 24 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org.

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Fr a nce • w inter 2008-09

© 2 0 0 8 m u s é e d u L o u vr e / P i e rr e P h i l i b e r t; Pa m F r a n c i s ; c o u r t e s y o f fr e n c h i n s t i t u t e / a l l i a n c e fr a n ç a i s e

MASTER CRAFTSMEN

Seeking to sustain its legacy of outstanding craftsmanship, France confers upon its finest artisans the title of maître d’art, recognizing both their expertise and their ability to transmit their knowledge to future generations. Earth and Fire: Master Artisans of France showcases the work of six members of this elite group through 30 one-of-a-kind items, among them a mouth-blown green crystal vase in a design by Ettore Sottsass and an assortment of knives crafted from hand-forged steel and silver, mammoth ivory and precious stones. Also on view are 60 pieces of faience by the Faucon family, whose century-old atelier in Provence closed in 2002. Jan. 14 through Feb. 10 at the French Institute/ Alliance Française; fiaf.org.

New York PARIS/NEW YORK

During the interwar period, when New York was coming into its own in many areas—architecture, music and cuisine, to name a few—it naturally looked to that long-established beacon of sophistication, Paris, for inspiration. The French capital, in turn, saw New York as a center of modernity. Paris/New York: Design Fashion Culture 1925-1940 probes the mutual admiration and rivalry between the two cities through a wide array of items, from menus, photographs and posters to clothing, jewelry and furnishings. Through Feb. 22 at the Museum of the City of New York; mcny.org.

emancipation. Profoundly influenced by the visual arts, Saint Laurent also reinterpreted Impressionism, Pop Art and other movements for the runway. Yves Saint Laurent, a retrospective spanning 40 years, explores the designer’s prolific career through 160 accessorized outfits, along with drawings and videos. Through March 1 at the de Young Museum; famsf.org.

manufactories at a high point in their artistic and technical development. Addressing both the rivalry and the creative exchange that existed among the three establishments, the exhibition is organized around four major decorative themes: antiquity, flowers, scenic views and historic events. Through April 19 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org.

Los Angeles

Baltimore

LANDSCAPE PAINTING

LE ROMAN DE LA ROSE

Sur le Motif: Painting in Nature Around 1800 highlights the critical period when European artists began painting outdoors and masters such as Corot elevated landscape from its previous status as a minor genre. The show’s jumpingoff point is the work of Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, who in 1800 wrote a treatise advocating the direct study of nature, a practice that would find its full expression decades later in the Impressionist movement. Through March 8 at the Getty Center; getty.edu.

An allegory of courtly love written in rhyming couplets, Le Roman de la Rose was composed in the 13th century in two stages by two different authors. It became one of the most popular works of the Middle Ages, as evidenced by hundreds of extant manuscripts. Ten widely varied examples are on view in The Romance of the Rose. Jan. 24 through April 19 at the Walters Art Museum; thewalters.org.

Champaign, IL JEAN LUC MYLAYNE

New York Well-known during her lifetime in her adopted France, the Russian-born Jewish writer Irène Némirovsky gradually faded from public consciousness following her death at Auschwitz in 1942. Her work experienced a dramatic revival of interest in 2004 with the publication of her unfinished novel Suite Française, set in wartime France. Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française presents the original handwritten manuscript as well as never before exhibited family photographs and other mementoes. Through March 22 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage; mjhnyc.org.

Between 2004 and 2007, photographer Jean Luc Mylayne spent months at a time hunkered down in the rugged West Texas countryside around Fort Davis, patiently waiting for birds—notably three species of bluebird that migrate through the area—to grow accustomed to his presence so that he could capture them on film without needing a telephoto lens. Trained as a painter, the artist invented 50 special lenses to produce meditative compositions that transcend mere documentation. Jean Luc Mylayne presents about two dozen of these large-format color images. Jan. 30 through April 5 at Krannert Art Museum; kam.uiuc.edu.

New York

New York

EUROPEAN PORCELAIN

BONNARD

Royal Porcelain from the Twinight Collection, 1800-1850 focuses on pieces produced by the Sèvres, Berlin and Vienna

Comprising 70 oils, watercolors and drawings, Pierre Bonnard: Still Life and the Late Interiors is the first exhibition devoted exclusively to this part of the artist’s oeuvre. Infused with Mediterranean light and color, the pieces on view date from 1923 to 1947, the year of Bonnard’s death. Many were painted at Le Bosquet, the villa near Cannes that he shared with his wife, Marthe. Jan. 27 through April 29 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org.

IRÈNE NÉMIROVSKY

San Francisco

Pittsburgh

YVES SAINT LAURENT

BARBIZON LANDSCAPES

The late Yves Saint Laurent was a pioneer of modern women’s wear thanks to such emblematic designs as le smoking, the safari jacket and the culotte skirt. His willingness to borrow from the male fashion vocabulary prompted many to view his designs as instruments of female

Named after a village near the Forest of Fontainebleau, the Barbizon School of

• Roland Daraspe’s striking “Vase graine” (2002), on display at New York’s FIAF.

• Melody Herrara stars as Marie-

Antoinette in “Marie,” a new ballet premiering in Houston.

painting favored both a style and a subject matter rooted in real life—naturalistic landscapes and depictions of laboring peasants rather than the idealized imagery and historical scenes that reigned at the Salon. Its practitioners embraced plein air practices decades before the Impressionists set up their easels outdoors. The Road to Impressionism: Barbizon Landscapes from the Walters Art Museum examines the school’s place on the art historical spectrum through works by such artists as Théodore Rousseau, Jean-François Millet and Camille Corot. Feb. 7 through May 3 at the Frick Art & Historical Center; thefrickpittsburgh.org.

West Palm Beach IMPRESSIONIST LANDSCAPES

Forty French and American paintings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are displayed in Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism. The exhibit follows the arc of the Impressionist movement, from its origins in the plein air practices of the Barbizon and Realist schools to its full expression in the hands of Monet, Renoir, Sisley and others to its influence on American painters such as George Innes and John Singer Sargent. Feb. 7 through May 10 at the Norton Museum of Art; norton.org. Fr a nce • w inter 2008-09

55


Calendrier

exhibits Los Angeles ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT

The Belles Heures of the Duke of Berry offers a unique opportunity to view one of the finest examples of French medieval manuscript illumination in its unbound form, all of its exquisite details fully accessible to the eye. Commissioned in the early 15th century by one of that era’s greatest patrons of the arts, the book of hours was recently dismantled to allow for restoration and production of a facsimile. The 180 leaves on display contain more than 80 miniature paintings illustrating devotional texts. Through Feb. 8 at the Getty Center; getty.edu.

New York

French Cultural Events in North America

January-March 2009

• Corneille Van Clève’s “Leda and the Swan” (c. 1680-1690), a highlight of “Cast in Bronze,” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

season highlights In the 16th century, thanks largely to Italian artists working at the court of François I, the French came to appreciate bronze for its aesthetic rather than simply utilitarian properties. During the next 300 years, the art of the bronze flourished in France in myriad incarnations, from statuettes to royal monuments. Today, however, the names of most of its leading practitioners are known only to connoisseurs. A case in point is Corneille Van Clève (1645-1732), whose career included serving as Chancellor of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture and creating numerous pieces for Versailles, notably the gilt bronze high altar in the chapel. His “Leda and the Swan,” above, is one of 125 works featured in C ast in B ronze : F rench S culpture from R enaissance to R evolution , the culmination of a decade-long effort by curators and scholars to shed light on this underappreciated subject. Feb. 24 through May 24 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org.

54

Fr a nce • w inter 2008-09

© 2 0 0 8 m u s é e d u L o u vr e / P i e rr e P h i l i b e r t; Pa m F r a n c i s ; c o u r t e s y o f fr e n c h i n s t i t u t e / a l l i a n c e fr a n ç a i s e

MASTER CRAFTSMEN

Seeking to sustain its legacy of outstanding craftsmanship, France confers upon its finest artisans the title of maître d’art, recognizing both their expertise and their ability to transmit their knowledge to future generations. Earth and Fire: Master Artisans of France showcases the work of six members of this elite group through 30 one-of-a-kind items, among them a mouth-blown green crystal vase in a design by Ettore Sottsass and an assortment of knives crafted from hand-forged steel and silver, mammoth ivory and precious stones. Also on view are 60 pieces of faience by the Faucon family, whose century-old atelier in Provence closed in 2002. Jan. 14 through Feb. 10 at the French Institute/ Alliance Française; fiaf.org.

New York PARIS/NEW YORK

During the interwar period, when New York was coming into its own in many areas—architecture, music and cuisine, to name a few—it naturally looked to that long-established beacon of sophistication, Paris, for inspiration. The French capital, in turn, saw New York as a center of modernity. Paris/New York: Design Fashion Culture 1925-1940 probes the mutual admiration and rivalry between the two cities through a wide array of items, from menus, photographs and posters to clothing, jewelry and furnishings. Through Feb. 22 at the Museum of the City of New York; mcny.org.

emancipation. Profoundly influenced by the visual arts, Saint Laurent also reinterpreted Impressionism, Pop Art and other movements for the runway. Yves Saint Laurent, a retrospective spanning 40 years, explores the designer’s prolific career through 160 accessorized outfits, along with drawings and videos. Through March 1 at the de Young Museum; famsf.org.

manufactories at a high point in their artistic and technical development. Addressing both the rivalry and the creative exchange that existed among the three establishments, the exhibition is organized around four major decorative themes: antiquity, flowers, scenic views and historic events. Through April 19 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org.

Los Angeles

Baltimore

LANDSCAPE PAINTING

LE ROMAN DE LA ROSE

Sur le Motif: Painting in Nature Around 1800 highlights the critical period when European artists began painting outdoors and masters such as Corot elevated landscape from its previous status as a minor genre. The show’s jumpingoff point is the work of Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, who in 1800 wrote a treatise advocating the direct study of nature, a practice that would find its full expression decades later in the Impressionist movement. Through March 8 at the Getty Center; getty.edu.

An allegory of courtly love written in rhyming couplets, Le Roman de la Rose was composed in the 13th century in two stages by two different authors. It became one of the most popular works of the Middle Ages, as evidenced by hundreds of extant manuscripts. Ten widely varied examples are on view in The Romance of the Rose. Jan. 24 through April 19 at the Walters Art Museum; thewalters.org.

Champaign, IL JEAN LUC MYLAYNE

New York Well-known during her lifetime in her adopted France, the Russian-born Jewish writer Irène Némirovsky gradually faded from public consciousness following her death at Auschwitz in 1942. Her work experienced a dramatic revival of interest in 2004 with the publication of her unfinished novel Suite Française, set in wartime France. Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française presents the original handwritten manuscript as well as never before exhibited family photographs and other mementoes. Through March 22 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage; mjhnyc.org.

Between 2004 and 2007, photographer Jean Luc Mylayne spent months at a time hunkered down in the rugged West Texas countryside around Fort Davis, patiently waiting for birds—notably three species of bluebird that migrate through the area—to grow accustomed to his presence so that he could capture them on film without needing a telephoto lens. Trained as a painter, the artist invented 50 special lenses to produce meditative compositions that transcend mere documentation. Jean Luc Mylayne presents about two dozen of these large-format color images. Jan. 30 through April 5 at Krannert Art Museum; kam.uiuc.edu.

New York

New York

EUROPEAN PORCELAIN

BONNARD

Royal Porcelain from the Twinight Collection, 1800-1850 focuses on pieces produced by the Sèvres, Berlin and Vienna

Comprising 70 oils, watercolors and drawings, Pierre Bonnard: Still Life and the Late Interiors is the first exhibition devoted exclusively to this part of the artist’s oeuvre. Infused with Mediterranean light and color, the pieces on view date from 1923 to 1947, the year of Bonnard’s death. Many were painted at Le Bosquet, the villa near Cannes that he shared with his wife, Marthe. Jan. 27 through April 29 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org.

IRÈNE NÉMIROVSKY

San Francisco

Pittsburgh

YVES SAINT LAURENT

BARBIZON LANDSCAPES

The late Yves Saint Laurent was a pioneer of modern women’s wear thanks to such emblematic designs as le smoking, the safari jacket and the culotte skirt. His willingness to borrow from the male fashion vocabulary prompted many to view his designs as instruments of female

Named after a village near the Forest of Fontainebleau, the Barbizon School of

• Roland Daraspe’s striking “Vase graine” (2002), on display at New York’s FIAF.

• Melody Herrara stars as Marie-

Antoinette in “Marie,” a new ballet premiering in Houston.

painting favored both a style and a subject matter rooted in real life—naturalistic landscapes and depictions of laboring peasants rather than the idealized imagery and historical scenes that reigned at the Salon. Its practitioners embraced plein air practices decades before the Impressionists set up their easels outdoors. The Road to Impressionism: Barbizon Landscapes from the Walters Art Museum examines the school’s place on the art historical spectrum through works by such artists as Théodore Rousseau, Jean-François Millet and Camille Corot. Feb. 7 through May 3 at the Frick Art & Historical Center; thefrickpittsburgh.org.

West Palm Beach IMPRESSIONIST LANDSCAPES

Forty French and American paintings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are displayed in Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism. The exhibit follows the arc of the Impressionist movement, from its origins in the plein air practices of the Barbizon and Realist schools to its full expression in the hands of Monet, Renoir, Sisley and others to its influence on American painters such as George Innes and John Singer Sargent. Feb. 7 through May 10 at the Norton Museum of Art; norton.org. Fr a nce • w inter 2008-09

55


and the definition of “masterpiece” have evolved over the ages. Through Sept. 6; louvreatlanta.org.

Jan. 29 at the Kennedy Center and Feb. 4 at the Rose Theater, Lincoln Center; operalafayette.org.

Stanford

Philadelphia

RODIN

IMPRESSIONS OF PELLÉAS

The Cantor Arts Center opens its newly expanded Rodin galleries, which allow it to display all of its holdings by the sculptor. Rodin! The Complete Stanford Collection showcases some 200 works in bronze, plaster, ceramic, stone and wax, as well as a rotating selection of works on paper, illustrating the ways in which the artist adapted compositional ideas from one project to the next. The presentation complements the adjacent sculpture garden, home to the largest collection of Rodin bronzes outside Paris. Permanent exhibition opening Feb. 18; museum.stanford.edu.

The Curtis Opera Theatre presents Impressions of Pelléas, a reworking of Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” by the renowned theatrical innovator Peter Brook. In this 90-minute interpretation of the composer’s only completed opera, the tragic consequences of the love triangle between Golaud; his wife, Mélisande; and his brother, Pelléas, take place on an intimate scale, with only two pianos for accompaniment. Feb. 10 through 15 at The Curtis Institute of Music; curtis.edu.

• Corot transformed nature painting in works like “Houses near Orleans” (c. 1830), on view at L.A.’s Getty Center.

Baltimore CIRCUS ART

Opening with vibrant posters by ToulouseLautrec and Jules Chéret, A Circus Family: Picasso to Léger brings together some 75 paintings, sculptures and works on paper featuring clowns, acrobats and other performers. These late 19th- and early 20th-century pieces range from celebrations of the circus as spectacle to social commentary to windows onto the lives of entertainers outside the ring. Feb. 22 through May 17 at the Baltimore Museum of Art; artbma.org.

Philadelphia CÉZANNE AND BEYOND

Cézanne and Beyond explores the evolution of the artist’s career and his still unexhausted influence on generations of artists in France and abroad—Picasso, for one, referred to him as “my one and only master.” To illustrate how Cézanne’s vision informed Cubism and numerous other artistic movements, some 60 of his oils, watercolors and drawings are juxtaposed with dozens of paintings by such diverse artists as Braque, Matisse, Giacometti, Mondrian and Johns. Feb. 26 through May 17 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; philamuseum.org.

Washington, DC LOUISE BOURGEOIS

Still evolving as an artist at the age of 97, Louise Bourgeois has remained at the forefront of the contemporary art scene for some 70 years, driven in part by an enduring need to exorcize memories of

56

Fr a nce • w inter 2008-09

Los Angeles LABÈQUE SISTERS

an unhappy childhood. The most comprehensive retrospective to date of her work, uniting more than 150 paintings, works on paper, installations and sculptures, Louise Bourgeois illustrates the artist’s singular ability to express themes at once personal and universal and to do so in both abstract and figurative modes. Feb. 26 through May 17 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; hirshhorn.si.edu.

The celebrated duo pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque are known for their eclectic repertoire, which ranges from Bach to flamenco. This winter, they join conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in performing the world premiere of Dutch composer Louis Andriessen’s Double Piano Concerto. The program also features Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Janácek’s “Sinfonietta.” Jan. 16 and 18 at Walt Disney Concert Hall; laphil.com.

San Francisco

New York

ARTISTIC LUXURY

OSCAR AND THE PINK LADY

Through nearly 300 pieces of jewelry and decorative objects, Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique compares the styles and techniques of three of the finest designers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The show also explores how these rivals for the most elite of clienteles—royals, celebrities, captains of industry—marketed their creations by presenting them as works of art rather than of craftsmanship. Feb. 7 through May 31 at the Legion of Honor; famsf.org.

Tony Award–winning stage veteran Rosemary Harris stars in Oscar and the Pink Lady, a one-woman show adapted from Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s hugely successful novella of the same name. Harris plays a pink-uniformed hospital volunteer who discovers the letters that Oscar, a recently deceased 10-year-old, wrote to God at her suggestion. In them, he imagines that each of his few remaining days is a decade in the life he will never live. Jan. 16 through 31 at Florence Gould Hall; fiaf.org.

Atlanta

Washington, DC, and New York

LOUVRE ATLANTA

LE DÉSERTEUR

Louvre Atlanta, now in its third and final year, has transformed a wing of the High Museum of Art into an outpost of the venerable French institution. The concluding exhibition, “The Louvre and the Masterpiece,” brings together 91 sculptures, paintings, drawings and decorative items spanning four millennia to explore how taste, connoisseurship

The period instrument ensemble Opéra Lafayette performs Pierre Alexandre Monsigny’s comic opera Le Déserteur (1769), the tale of Alexis, who is arrested for deserting the army after being duped into believing that his fiancée, Louise, has betrayed him. Starring baritone William Sharp and soprano Dominique Labelle. In French and English.

GÉRARD GRISEY

A pupil of both Messiaen and Dutilleux, Gérard Grisey is best known as one of the founders of Spectralism, a method of composition based on computer analysis of sound waves. Monday Evening Concerts presents Gérard Grisey’s Acoustic Spaces, featuring Part I of “Les Espaces Acoustiques,” a cycle of six works created between 1976 and 1985, as well as “Tempus ex Machina” (1979), a percussion sextet. Feb. 16 at Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School; mondayeveningconcerts.org.

Houston MARIE

Houston Ballet presents the world premiere of Marie, based on the life of Marie Antoinette. The ballet is a period piece with a twist: It features powdered wigs and costumes drawn from 18thcentury portraits yet is set to music by Dmitri Shostakovich. Feb. 26 through March 8 at Wortham Theater Center; houstonballet.org.

U.S. Tour QUATUOR ÉBÈNE

Appropriately for a string quartet that one critic described as “combining the fire of youth with an already great maturity,” the Quatuor Ebène (also known as the Ebène Quartet) embraces both contemporary works and the classical canon. The ensemble also has a stated fondness for improvisation and frequently turns to jazz for its encores. The Quatuor Ebène kicks off a U.S. tour this March on the heels of its latest album, featuring works by Debussy, Fauré and Ravel. March 6 through 22 at various U.S. venues; for a complete schedule, visit quatuorebene.com. —Tracy Kendrick For a regularly updated listing of cultural events, go to francemagazine.org.

T h e J . Pa u l G e t t y M u s e u m , L o s A n g e l e s

performing arts

Los Angeles


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Evénement

Vintage Bordeaux Gala a spectacular show of support for french culture

For a moment, it was as if the entire room held its breath.

Then a hand went up, four fingers raised. “Sold!!!” boomed gala chairman Tom Black. Mr. John T. Amend of Dallas, Texas, had just bought the star auction lot of the evening: the entire collection of Médoc wines from the 1855 Classification, all from the 2003 vintage. Sixty-one bottles donated by 61 different châteaux were his for $40,000. The room burst into enthusiastic applause. Mr. Amend’s generous bid, made with his business associate David Haemisegger, was the high point of an evening that showed an outpouring of support for the French-American Cultural Foundation. Held at the Residence of the French Ambassador on December 3, 2008, France Magazine’s “Vintage Bordeaux” gala brought together some of Bordeaux’s most famous grands crus, the talents of celebrity chef Thierry Marx, distinguished guests of honor and wine enthusiasts from throughout the United States. It was a magical evening of great food, great wines and great company—truly the best of French art de vivre.

Pierre Vimont, Ambassador of France, and Karen Taylor, Editor of France Magazine.

Robert Parker and gala chairman Tom Black.

Michelin North America’s Chairman and CEO Dick Wilkerson (far right) and guests.

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Cuisine Solutions President Stanislas Vilgrain and his wife, Aniela.


gala partners

Elaine and Leonard Silverstein, President of the FrenchAmerican Cultural Foundation.

Jean-Charles Cazes, of Cazes Family Estates, and author Jean-Paul Kauffmann.

Alfred Tesseron of Château Pontet-Canet and Cognac Tesseron; Bruno Eynard of Château Lagrange; Emmanuel Cruse of Château d’Issan.

Philippe Castéja, President of the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855.

The Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855 is a professional organization that upholds and protects the 1855 Classification and its prestigious image through joint economic, legal and promotional activities. Headed by President Philippe Castéja, the Conseil supports a number of causes in France and abroad, and generously donated all the grand cru wines for the “Vintage Bordeaux” dinner and live auction. grand-cru-classe.com

Cuisine Solutions has been the world leader in sous-vide products, innovation and training for nearly two decades. Presided over by Stanislas Vilgrain, this award-winning company based in Alexandria, Virginia, caters to top hotels, airlines, restaurants, retailers, home cooks and the U.S. military, and educates leading U.S. chefs in the use of sous-vide techniques. Cuisine Solutions graciously underwrote the “Vintage Bordeaux” dinner. cuisinesolutions.com Seven of the 61 Médoc grand cru wines offered at auction.

Renaud Dutreil, Chairman of LVMH North America.

JW Amend and fiancée Tracie Houston.

Owned by Jean-Michel Cazes, Château Cordeillan-Bages is the leading address in the Médoc. Nestled among the vineyards of Pauillac, this exclusive 29-room inn— part of the elite Relais & Châteaux group— boasts a fabulous two-star kitchen run by Thierry Marx. One of France’s most innovative chefs, Marx and his assistants donated their cutting-edge talents to the “Vintage Bordeaux” gala. cordeillanbages.com

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Evénement Floral arrangements in Médoc and Sauternes hues by Fred Paras.

gala sponsors

William and Rebecca Sanders with Ambassador Vimont.

Sina Khelil and Sonia Zerargui.

Chef Thierry Marx’s “Conical Quail.”

Teresa and John T. Amend.

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Michèle Imhoff and Jean-Marie Zambelli

Artisan Adour Restaurant Air France Baccarat Banque Transatlantique Mr. Tom Black Bordeaux Office of Tourism Mr. Keith Browning Champagne Taittinger Château Batailley Château Doisy Daëne Château d’Issan Château Lafite-Rothschild Château Lagrange Château Lynch-Bages Château Pontet-Canet Château Suduiraut Caudalie USA La Commanderie du Bontemps Médoc, Graves, Sauternes et Barsac Cognac Tesseron Dr. Randy Davis EDF Evian Flammarion The Embassy of France French Soaps Galeries Lafayette iWineRadio/Vin Village Michelin North America Michel Pâtisserie Pernod Ricard USA The Regent Grand Hôtel, Bordeaux Neiman Marcus Relais & Châteaux Sofitel Luxury Hotels La Tupina Restaurant, Bordeaux Valrhona Wine Aromas WineSkin


Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés en 1855 Médoc & Sauternes as seen by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

“For more than 150 years, these wines have represented a terroir and a climate, but also men and women.” www.grand-cru-classe.com


Temps Modernes

Strange Bedfellows? Love and politics: It’s a combination that

interests me personally. As an anarchistic, hedonistic young leftist in the 1970s, I was very much in love with an absolutely charming young woman. She was pretty and vivacious, but she had one major flaw: She liked Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Yes, VGE, who had just been elected president—very bon chic bon genre, a member of the Old Guard, Catholic, a big-game hunter outfitted in cashmere and silk…. What could she possibly be thinking? Well, time passed. Giscard turned out to be more visionary and reform-minded than I had anticipated. Among other things, he gave us the first G7, lowered the voting age to 18 and legalized abortion. Perhaps my darling was right, and I was wrong to consider her a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. Of course, I too have changed over time. I’m still a hedonist, but I’ve shelved all my anarchistic tendencies. They required a whole lot of faith in human nature, and after three decades of journalism, frankly, that’s Mission Impossible. But one thing hasn’t changed: After 30 years, I’m still in love with my lovely Giscardienne. To be sure, we don’t always see eye to eye. We have spirited discussions on all kinds of topics: What justifies prison? Should prostitution be legalized? Do politics depend on a market economy? Which are fairer—proportional or progressive taxes? We never get bored. Sometimes our arguments get a little heated, but that’s what makes life so interesting. It would be so dull to live with someone you always agree with. Politics and l’amour became a favorite Paris dinner-table topic when President Nicolas Sarkozy married Carla Bruni. “How could they?” our friends wondered. He’s on the right (or so we thought before the financial crisis, when we all became Keynesians), and she says she’s on the left. “So what?” my Giscardienne and I chorus. “It’s stimulating to disagree, and fun too.” “Maybe,” retort our friends—most of whom lean left, especially post-crisis—“but you don’t take politics seriously.” “Sure we do,” we respond. “How can you love someone who doesn’t vote the same way you do?” shouts another friend, who happens to be in politics. We all argued. It 64

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was a wonderful evening. We’re going to do it again next week. The French are so intrigued by the subject that a sociologist has written a book about it. Based on extensive interviews, Toi, moi et la politique: amour et conviction by Anne Muxel, head of the Political Research Center at Sciences-Po, may be the first to explore the personal side of political convictions in France. What happens to our ideas within the confines of the couple or the family circle? Three-fourths of the time, one’s family dictates one’s affiliations, with members sharing political loyalties. Most respondents are fine with that—they think you can’t love someone if you don’t agree politically. Similar ideas, they believe, create household harmony. So does silence, which saves conflict-averse spouses from having to disagree. For some, especially on the left, notes Muxel, political agreement is a “categorical imperative”: If you vote left, loving someone who votes right is absolutely out of the question. The opposite, however, doesn’t seem to hold true. Historically, tolerance is a value more often associated with the left, but not in this case—perhaps because the right is more “liberal” (in the French, free-market sense of the term) than the left. Or perhaps it has become more centrist and less passionate. In any case, this seems to be a time for pragmatism, a time to defuse political drama. And apart from obtuse fundamentalists, hopelessly stupid fascists, Taliban of every political persuasion—in short, extremists of every stripe—I find all intelligent women likable. I can therefore love them even if they haven’t voted for my favorite candidate, who inevitably disappoints me after few months anyway. And frankly, I wouldn’t wish “domestic tranquility” on anybody, let alone a relationship in which silence is golden. I’d say that boredom, rather than disagreement, is grounds for divorce. The reporter André Fontaine once wrote a book (on East-West détente) with a nice title: Un seul lit pour deux rêves (“One bed for two dreams”). My lovely Giscardienne and I wake up in this same bed every morning, still happy to resume our lively and delightful conversation on the f state of our latest differences.

GARY CLEMENT

by MICHEL FAURE


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France Magazine #88 - Winter 2008-09  

Since 1985, sophisticated Americans have relied on France Magazine for authoritative coverage of French travel destinations, society, busine...