Paris is truly art-ful, as in: full of art.
Unbelievable, formidable. Even when I see it, it’s hard for me to take it all in, such local movements of historical and modern European art. Which I studied in my undergraduate textbooks of art. I let it all absorb, a feature of my research here in situ, in Paris, being the wonders and education of this place itself. Everywhere the actual artifacts are on view, like walking into Brancusi’s atelier yesterday. A small museum next to the Pompidou Museum houses a collection of Brancusi’s sculptures. All set up to his exact(ing) specifications, as if in his actual studio of the day. His forms are smooth, organically curving, rounding without edge. An oblong head lies sideways on a wooden block, Cycladic in appearance, the eyes are unreadable and serene, the nose a clean, long line. Behind this, form after form rests in the studio, on the floor or atop piers in a precision of space, as if grown from nature itself, or the human expression of such.
Last weekend I went to visit La Musée de la Mode, in the sumptuous building and grounds of the Palais Galliera. The exhibition was of the fashion/textile designer Jeanne Lanvin. I became completely absorbed in the details of her extraordinary art and craft. Her dresses, the clean cut lines of the 1920s, and 30s. Her velvet blue, and endless hand-made details in embroidery and beading of dresses. We need these dresses now! They float and flow, and look comfortable to wear draped upon the body. Lanvin’s motto/logo is an image of mother and daughter. Phrases from maternal life made their way into her fashion pages, like, “have you finished your home work?” and, “you’re going to fast maman!” Her daughter an enduring feature of her life, a motivation and inspiration for work and art.
In my state of wandering Paris, these art-full viewings impress upon me like an oracle. I am con-currently immersed in this theme of art and mother-lines. Working on a paper that juxtaposes Cixous’ artful mother texts (in particular “Eve escapes” 2011), with my own mother texts. I work autophotographically to make series of photographs “at home,” about home, and on visits to my mother’s home. Also on a maternal theme, a whole corpus of Cixous’ recent books are devoted to the figure of her mother, who lived a long-life of over 100 years. Her books portray the daughter-writer who is constantly (in both serious and comedic ways) pulled between the presence of the beloved mother, with whom she lives and cares in proximity, and the needs of her art in writing. The impending and unimaginable (dreaded) death of her mother, and the call of Writing itself, are always on her mind, as she writes about writing and thinks and dreams in the presence of writing (and Mother). Cixous, in the writer’s voice, is always bridging this impossible gap of life and art. Mother and art keep arriving together in text, an exquisite evocation of living art and artful living, with life left alive on the page.