View from window of the Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris
One of shows open early (from 10am) on Saturday morning was Ilse Bing at Galerie Karsten Greve in rue Debellyme in the 3e. We had plenty of time after breakfast so decided to walk most of the way there from the edge of the 3e and on our way there we peeped through the large glass windows of a small gallery showing the work of Boris Mikhlailov; I decided it was probably not worth trying to come back to see it later when the gallery was open.
I found the Ilse Bing show a little disappointing. Not that the work was bad, but that there was really nothing that added at all to what I already knew of her work. Born in 1899, she abandoned her studies as an architect to become a photographer in 1928. She was one of the first to buy a Leica in 1929, and according to the information at the show introduced many other photographers in Paris to the camera. Apart from a few early images from Frankfurt her work is typical of the work of modernist photographers of the era. The pictures were mainly from her time in Paris, where she came in 1930, leaving for America in 1941 after having been interned in 1940 as an enemy alien. You can see a rather more varied collection of her work on Luminous Lint, where there is also a more detailed biography.
When I first came to Paris, much of the area around here was pretty run down, but now it is stuffed with galleries and design workshops, and although we were too early for some of them, and others were closed on Saturdays, there were still plenty to look into, and too many to remember.
Louis Stettner hanging in the small Galerie David Guiraud
One which was closed then, but which I was able to come back to for a quick look in the afternoon was Galerie David Guiraud in the rue du Perche showing Les Chefs-d’œuvre (the Masterpieces) of Louis Stettner. Some years ago I wrote about his work and in particular the fine images he made in Paris in the immediate post-war years. Although there were a few great pictures made after his return to American (and you can see a great deal of his work on his web site), it was clear from this show that this early period remained by far his most productive. There were two pictures showing a couple of children on the street hanging next to each other; the better known perhaps gives them something of an alien quality, and I prefer the immense vitality of the other image.
A private back street in the centre of Paris
At the end of the rue du Perche La Galerie Particulière has premises on both sides of the street. The smaller was showing work by Michael Wolf but the larger hall on the other side was devoted to the work of Todd Hido, The enchanted realm (on show until 16 Jan 2013.) Hido, born in 1968 in Kent, Ohio, drives around America, and when he sees something that takes his fancy (and mostly this seems to happen on the edges of small towns) and takes pictures of desolate rows of houses, often in fairly dramatic light and other perhaps rather clichéd subjects. Some of the pictures are perhaps more about the weather, as he often seems to find the light he likes just after a brief storm and sometimes takes his pictures through a rain-spattered windscreen. Although I actually like the work, I don’t see it as anything particularly special, and certainly not something I would spend large amounts of money on or indeed hang on my walls. But perhaps I might occasionally take a look at a book of his work.
We met a couple with balloons our way to the Polka Galerie
From there we made our way east to the rue St Gilles for a show by Daido Moryami at the Polka Galerie, with large (perhaps too large) prints of 30 previously unpublished images from his stay in Paris from 1988-90. They had a kind of shock value with their lack of mid-tones and subtlety, but also a different outlook that gave them some excitement, although I think his best work is from Japan. The high-contrast look was taken even further with the giant silkscreen prints that were on display in the office building in the courtyard behind the front gallery, and I felt these were perhaps too crude, at least when seen close to. Silk screen is of course essentially high contrast – you either print ink or you don’t (although using halftone screens can produce the illusion of continuous tone) and Moriyama obviously relished the opportunity this gave him. The silk screens remain on view until 12 Jan 2013.
It was time for an early lunch before the tour we were joining in the afternoon, and we found a bistro on the Boulevard Beaumarchais. Linda rushed to a table beside a radiator to warm herself up.
Place des Vosges
After our meal I sat in the Place des Vosges and logged on using the Paris free wifi there to read my e-mail, while Linda walked round the square. Unfortunately there still don’t seem to be many places with free wi-fi in Paris – much less then in London, and although my BT account lets me use the Fon network, there seem to be very few sites and when I found one it there appeared to be no way to log in without paying. Neither the BT or Fon websites give any help on how to use the networks abroad. But I was really too busy to spend much time on the Internet anyway.
Saturday continues in another post. More pictures shortly on My London Diary.
All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.