The Museum of Arts and Decoration on the Rue Rivoli has a big Rene Lalique exhibition. While I’ve long been a Lalique freak on the small jewelry, some of his grosser grander stuff turns me off completely. Still, there’s a deliciously huge embossed glass door at the end of the gallery that’s a stunner.
Up on the fifth floor—the new turf of the Musee de la Publicite, or Advertising Museum—there’s a funky show in circa 1900 aperitif posters that were commissioned but never executed. If you’re as into Art Nouveau as I am, you eyeballs will goggle gleefully at these “imaginary” posters for the aperitif Byhrr.
Now walk back toward the Metro entrance for the most accessible entrance to the Louvre. (But don’t fail to savour I.M. Pei’s great glass pyramid of a central entrance. It may turn out to be his chef d’oeuvre.)
I have an unbending rule that I never go to the Louvre except to see something very specific. (Culture drones have been known to drop from utter dehydration from trying to bite off more Louvre than their minds could effectively chew: That’s really what the Mona Lisa is smirking at—culture vultures circling their own cadavers.)
You should save an hour to take in the Louis Kahn show at the Pompidou (Metro 1 / Hotel de Ville). It’s amazing how just the flood of light in the fifth-floor exhibition space made me think I was seeing a significantly different exhibit from when it was shown at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Linger longer at the Pomp over the astonishingly fresh exhibit on Czech Cubism, especially the furniture and the architecture. I knew I had lots of art to Czech out in Prague and Bratislava after seeing that great intro to “The Eight” at the Brooklyn Museum a few years back. Here’s a grand swatch of it.
When you trek back to the Hotel de Ville stop, pause to be harrowed by a terrifyingly true exhibition, “Le Temps Des Rafles” (“The Time of the Roundups”), in the reception room of City Hall. I thought I’d seen and felt the worst of the Holocaust, I was wrong.
To memorialize the 50th anniversary of the first roundup of Jews in Paris, lawyer Serge Klarsfeld has assembled items that will make you quake: the telex Klaus Barbie sent consigning 44 children of Isieux to the camps, demented sociograms in which factotums determine just how Aryan a person is, a canister of Zyklon B, an Auschwitz prisoner’s uniform.
Klarsfeld told me the exhibit will circulate throughout France for the next two years. So if you get to Paris after it closes at City Hall, look for it at the Memorial du Martyr Juif Inconnu, 17 Rue Geoffroy, one stop up on Metro 1 (St. Paul). It will be there until the actual anniversary of the first roundup in July.
And, of course, EuroDisney has just opened. I trekked out there, poison pen in hand, to blast away at my two least favorite PoMo architects, Princeton’s Michael Graves and Columbia’s Robert A.M. Stern. Alas, both of them have hit architectural home runs—well, Stern’s is at least a triple.
Graves’ Hotel New York is a glorious evocation of Deco, with saucy linoleum concourse floors touting up one corridor the METS and down another the YANKS. Period photos of the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig garnish the walls.
Stern’s Hotel Cheyenne is Authentic Hokey, if I may improvise a rubric. As I sought an eye-opening cup of coffee, I blinked at the chalk-scrawled sign greeting me, “HOWDY PARDNER.”
The “hotel” is actually a congeries of theme hotelettes: Sitting Bull, Wyatt Earp and—the one I visited—Annie Oakley. Photos of the markswoman abound. Most of the rooms have a double bunk bed flanking a king-size one for the parents; 75% are handicapped accessible. For traveling families, a launderette is handily nearby.
What really won over my doubting heart: The design level of the gifts is MOMA-worthy. I did all my Christmas shopping in one fell swooperoo. April Fool’s Day indeed.
I haven’t checked out the fantasy parts, but the hotels are bell-ringers.
Reprinted from Welcomat: After Dark, Hazard-at-Large, May 6, 1992