September 25, 2011

From the Middle Ages to Modern: An Abundance of Architecture

Galérie Dorée in the Banque de France

During Journées du Patrimoine, we were treated to the treasures of the gold and gild and grace of the past. From the Galérie Dorée in the Banque de France to the sweeping staircases of the embassies.

Life in Paris always offers more … a view of both ends of a spectrum. So, we can also seek out modern architecture ... a little less gold and gild. 

Le Corbusier (aka Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) is the Swiss-born French architect of the 20th century who is one of the pioneers of this modern movement. 

His 50-year career included the synthesis of various arts, as well as the design of furniture and buildings constructed throughout central Europe, India, Russia, and North and South America.

Villa Cook in Boulogne-Billancourt
He is best known for his dedication to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities. In Boulogne-Billancourt, he built several houses: the double house/workshop for the sculptors Jacques Lipchitz and Oscar Mietschaninoff, the villa Cook, and the building Molitor, where he had his own apartment and workshop.

The villa Cook was built for Jeanne and William Cook (friends of Gertrude Stein) in 1927. The house emphasized space and light and was called the first “true cubic house.”

If you want to know more about Le Corbusier, join us for our visit to the Museum of the 30s in Boulogne-Billancourt on 29 September. Find out more here. 

September 18, 2011

A Taste of WICE: September 20th Fête

Wine tasting and exhibits and food, oh my!
Come and join us for a taste of WICE … this Tuesday, September 20 from 2–6 pm at the American Church. This celebration of the rentrée offers the opportunity to see old friends, meet the new folks in town, and get a taste of things to come this fall at WICE.

You’ll see a memorable photography exhibition by WICE photo students as well as demonstrations of painting, drawing, and calligraphy.

You can learn about wine (and taste, then taste some more) with a degustation led by our popular wine instructor.

Or show off your wine knowledge with a wine quiz … and win a delicious bottle to take home with you.

The cooking booth will have recipe cards for you and lemon bars to dive into. And, there will be a reading of creative works by some of the WICE writers.

You’ll be able to talk with instructors in all our departments, including Visual Arts, Languages, Creative Writing and Literature, Art and Culture, and Living in France. And, you can sign up for courses with the on-site staff and benefit from discounts provided for some classes.

Plus refreshments and door prizes. Hope to see you on Tuesday afternoon!

American Church
65, quai d’Orsay, 75007

Métro: Invalides, Alma Marceau

September 14, 2011

The Allure of Heritage

Credit: Meredith Mullins
The Journées du Patrimoine, coming up this weekend (September 17&18), offers a unique opportunity to feel a part of French history and culture (whether you were born in France or are connected to French heritage by other roots).

We are able, for two proud days each September, to see historic and elegant places, some of which are not usually open to the public. Hundreds of government buildings, private residences, and hôtel particuliers are accessible. The journées du patrimoine interactive website is helpful to plan your journey and check on the day(s) and hours of opening. You can also pick up a schedule at the Ministry of Culture in the Palais Royal just before the weekend.

Lee Hubert, WICE’s expert guide for Paris by Arrondissement walks, has years of Patrimoine experience. Her favorites include:

Hôtel de Toulouse (Banque de France)
2, rue Radziwill; 1st
(Offers the lovely 18th century Galérie dorée, not usually open to the public)

Hôtel de Matignon (Prime Minister’s Residence)
57 rue de Varenne; 7th

Also on the rue de Varenne … the Hôtel de la Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville (Ambassade d’Italie)

Hôtel de Noirmoutier (Prefecture de Paris)
138 rue de Grenelle; 7th
(Includes beautiful carvings inspired by the Fables de la Fontaine)

The rue de Grenelle is a treasure trove, with lots of other embassies (and gardens), including:
Hôtel Chanac de Pompadour (Ambassade de Suisse)
Hôtel d’Avaray (Dutch Ambassador Residence)
Hôtel d’Estrées (Russian Ambassador Residence)
Hôtel de Breteuil (Ambassade d’Irlande)
2, rue Rude; 16th

Other longtime favorites (these venues are often crowded, so go early):

Hotel de Ville 3 rue Lobau; 4th
The library and grand ballrooms are spectacular.

Hotel de Lauzun 17 quai d’Anjou; 4th
The carved, mirrored, painted, and gilded interior inspired many of its residents, including Gautier and Baudelaire (who wrote much of Fleurs du Mal here and formed his famous hashish club to experiment with altered states).

Observatoire de Paris 61, avenue de la Observatoire; 14th

Institut de France 23 quai Conti; 6th

Sénat 15, rue de Vaugirard; 6th

Hôtel d’Evreux (Palais de l’Elysée) Avenue Gabriel; 8th

To continue your historic and cultural wanderings after the weekend, join Lee Hubert for her upcoming tour of the 2nd arrondissement on September 27. To add a camera to those wanderings, join Meredith Mullins for the Exploring Paris through the Lens course, beginning September 26.

September 5, 2011

Photo Tip: The Magic Hours

Credit: Meredith Mullins
Paris is, indeed, the City of Light. We get more than our fair share of moments when the light just takes our breath away. It’s good to know, though, that the best hours for photographing are in the early morning (for an hour or two after sunrise) and in the late afternoon (for an hour or two before sunset). These book-ends of the day are called the magic hours... and for good reason. The light is soft and diffused. The light source (the sun) is low in the sky and provides directional side-lighting, sculpting everything it illuminates with beautiful dimensionality. Shadows are long and interesting. And the contrast between the highlights and shadows is less intense, allowing for easier exposure of a fuller tonal range in the photo.

In Paris, there is also another time that is easy to love as a photographer. It’s that time, about 30 minutes after the sun has set, when the sky is a rich, deep blue, and the street lamps and monument lights have just come on. Absolutely magic!