Saturday I went to the center “Georges Pompidou” in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. I saw the original and colorful work of Jeff Koons a contemporary illustrator, painter and sculptor. Born in York, Pennsylvania, on January 21, 1955, artist Jeff Koons made a name for himself by using everyday objects in special installations that touched on consumerism and the human experience. Some of his art has consisted of overtly sexual themes while others have been seen as a form of neo-kitsch, such as his balloon dogs.
During the exhibition, we can see different pieces using several materials : first his well-known chrome stainless steel sculptures but Jeff Koons used also porcelain, polychrome wood, polychrome aluminium, etc…
I have chosen to analyse one well-known piece of his collection : the Balloon Dog.
The Balloon Dog is one of the most famous pieces of Jeff Koons. Since 12 November 2013, Jeff Koons has held the sale price record of work for a living artist. Sold at auction in New York, his orange version of the Balloon Dog reached 58.4 million of dollars. An absolute record for this 60-year-old American. This Balloon Dog exists in five copies of different colors, it is a giant replica in chrome steel of these little animals made in balloons that you can find for some euros in the street. The creations of the artist are linked to childhood due to many aspects:
First, with the representation of animals which are quite particularly liked during this period. It is common that the child asks for a pet such as a dog and it is why the artist creates numerous Balloon Dog which arouse nostalgia in the grown-up spectators. These sculptures echo their childhood, a time when they did not know the worries of adult life.
Then, the material and the color of the works; they also contribuate to this will of finding its memories and feelings back. The bright and plain colors are indeed the characteristics of his drawings: the children will tend not to shade them. A child will not bother himself with representing a dog with such color. These hues also refer to balloons which are also colorful.
Thirdly, if animal-balloons are represented in this way and not in a realistic way it is because we can find them during the carnivals or funfairs. Once again, it is the place which the children appreciate and it is completely the kind of memories that they can bring back home. These animal-balloons are important for them who perceive them as objects difficult to realize. It is likely that the adults, contemplating these works, had them between their hands during their childhood and Koons tries to make them feel the same feelings as they did then.
Finally, the last element is the brilliant surface of statues. At first, it can, by far, give the illusion of transparency as real balloons in the shape of animals. The reflections can actually persuade that we see what is beyond the statue, but it is opaque in fact. Closely, it is once again a reference to the childhood with the activity of the distorting mirrors in the carnivals.
These elements that we meet in this Balloon Dog, also remind us of the definition given of the kitsch. The public is pulled in a crowd of memories and past feelings by looking at the sculpture.
Jeff Koons at Pompidou.
First let’s come back on the controvertial artist’s career ! Jeffrey “Jeff” Koons was born on January 21st 1955 in York, Pennsylvania. His father was an interior decorator and his mother worked as a seamstress. He has always been interested in art, mostly by Salvador Dali that he admired so much he went to visit him at his hotel in New York.
Koons studied art and painting at The school of Art Institute of Chicago, soon after college he established himself in New York in the district of SoHo.
His first piece of art was the Equilibrium series, mainly focused on basketball with the use of a few Nike publicities and of basket balls floatting in salted water solution.
He started what we can call kitch art. He created sculptures representing inflatable toys that are extremely realistic. He manufactured the sculpures with stainless steel and was able to make them look straight like balloons.
Along the years he is mostly known for his kitch art that became scandalous when he created the “Made in Heaven” series with his ex-wife and porn-star Ilona Staller also known as La Cicciolina. The painting and sculpture reprensent the couple in more than subjective positions and set the couple in their intimacy.
Koons is famous for his taste of color, details, transformation. His most famous piece of art must be the balloon dog he made in 1994 and that is also one of the most expensive piece of art ever.
The exhibition at the Centre Pompidou is great; it exposes many different pictures and sculpures that represent different periods in Jeff Koons’s art such as the Inflatables, the Banality, the Gazing Ball and even the Celebration.
I recommend it to art lovers, curious people even kids !!
The pieces of art I preferred were the Split Rocker , and the Balloon Dog.
The exhibition takes place until April 27th 2015.
The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy from a screenplay by Mario Puzo and Coppola. The film is based on a crime novel written by Mario Puzo en 1969.
It relates the story of a fictious mafia family based in New York City which is headed by Don Vito Corleon, who became synonymous with the Italian Mafia as he is an immigrant from Sicily. The story spans the years 1945-55 and focuses on the transformation of Michael Corleone who thereafter becomes a ruthless Mafia boss.
The film starts on the wedding day of Vito’s Corlene daughter. Vito is the Don or in others words the “boss” of the Corleone family. He is a native Sicilian married to Carmela with whom he has four children : Sonny, Fredo, Michael and Connie. Vito is in his office and hears a request from one of his godson : Jonny Fontane, a popular singer, who pleads for help in getting the main role in a movie because he is refused by the director Jack Woltz. The Don reassures Johnny by saying that he will “make an offer he couldn’t refuse”.
During the wedding, Michael explains to his girlfriend Kay the violent way his father settles business with his adversary as she ignores all the practices and rules proper to the mafia argot. He also adds that those methods are not his.
Later, Tom Hagen (adopted by Vito Coreleone) is sent to Hollywood in order to persuade the film director to appoint John in the film. Tom is welcomed in the director’s property. The latter learns that in fact Tom is working for Don Vito Coreleone. The guest is then shown the racehorse that Jack Woltz just purchased and which prize raises to 600 000$. But during the dinner, he declares that he will not hire Jonny Fontanein his film. The morning after, he wakes up with the bloody head of his horse in the bed ; he is horrified.
Virgil, the “Turk” Sollozzo, who controls heroine’s traffic in New York asks Don Corleone a legal and political protection and one milion dollars in order to develop his business. But the latter declines the offer. Then, Luca Brasi, a loyal man of the Corleone is sent to get some information about the Tattaglia family but he is murdered at the venue.
While buying some oranges, Vito is injured by a revolver, but he survives. Soon after, a packet containing a dead fish is delivered to the Corleone ; it is a message used to say that Luca Brasi “sleeps with fishes”. Michael decides to start being part of the family business and so kills Sollozzo and MacCluskey, the police captain, in order to save his father’s life who is at stake. For the first time Michael gets involved in the criminal environment.
Micheal is then sent to Sicily where he meets Apollonia, who will become his wife. But, the latter is killed by a car bomb intended for Michael.
Instead of perpetuating this cycle of vengeance, Vito Corleone is in search of peace with the other families so that his son can return home. Once, Michael comes back home he marries with Kay and tells her that the family business will become completely legal.
From now on, Michael is the head of the ‘family’ and his father becomes his most faithful adviser. Vito dies in his garden of a heart attack while he is playing with his grandson. Soon after, Michael murders the other head of families because they want to take revenge.
Kay witnesses a confrontation of Connie and requests explanations from Michael, but he answers : ” Do not question me about my business”. But due to her insistence, he accepts a question but saying “only this time” to finally deny any implication in Carlo’s death. She seems relieved by Michael’s denial. However, she starts being suspicious when she observes people showing their respects to Michael, kissing his hand and addressing him as they used to address Vito Corleone.
Awards and Nominations
The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the greatest film in world cinema and as one of the most influential gangster film. The film remains the box office leader for 1972.
The same year, it won three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (referring to Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay for Puzo and Coppola. Among those three Oscars, the film got several nominations such as the Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Caan, Al Pacino..) or the Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium.
The success spawned two sequels: The Godfather Part II in 1974, and The Godfather Part III in 1990.
Why I liked it
First of all, I liked the film because of its genre. Then, what really struck me in this film is that even though it is a mafia “family”, Don Corleone refuses being part of the drug traffiking because he is worried about his image. So, even if he is part of the prostitution and underground gambling. Indeed, he remains on businesses which are considered “less dirty”.
Lilly Singh, known as “IISuperwomanII” is a Youtube sensation. I’ve already tackled YouTube through some famous video-makers but I feel like Lilly deserves an entire article. There are several reasons why I absolutely like her.
First and foremost, she sheds light on “minorities”. Obviously, Lilly is a woman, but she does not talk about makeup or clothes or anything too “girly’. Her parents come from Punjab, in India, and her family is still quite traditional. In her videos, she often confronts her point of view, as an Indian woman, to what most people may experience. For instance, even though she does it through laughter, she makes many videos about forced marriages. She lives in Canada and has an Occidental way of life; however she manages to keep a link with her other country, India. It is a recurring theme because of the “lack of a female presence especially within the South Asian community” on the internet. She wants to raise awareness so as to reduce people’s misconceptions “There’s ignorance in every single community and I’m well aware of that; but I think because I’ve been more exposed to ignorance in the South Asian community – especially in relation to divorced or single mothers, abuse, racism and homophobia – it irritates me.”
Another reason why she should be admired: she has a degree in psychology. It is very rare for Internet sensations to have attended university: another famous graduate, Tyler Oakley, is one of the most famous representatives of the LGBT community and obtained a degree from Michigan State University. Lilly’s videos are not didactic but sometimes she uses psychology. For example, one of the videos I prefer is called “5 minutes of EPIC motivation” and, trust me, you’ll probably stop procrastinating right after watching it. You can really see she has knowledge, not because she brags about it, but because she uses it wisely through every single video she makes. She acts like a “girl next door”, she dresses very casually and doesn’t really watch her language but she is undoubtedly funny and clever. I really feel like she is an ideal role model for Asian girls -or whoever watches her- because she proves that life is not about what you have, but rather about what you do with what you have. To put it in a nutshell, she is truly inspiring.
Still not convinced? Here’s a list of factual reasons why it’s almost impossible not to like her:
1. She calls her community “Team Super”. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a team I’d like to be part of !
2. This community belongs to an imaginary place called “Unicorn Island”. What did I just say? It’s absolutely not imaginary. Unicorns exist.
3. Two of the things she prefers in life are food and sleep. I might have finally found someone who has the same opinion as me.
4. Lilly always portrays her parents as very strict yet they are the funniest characters she has ever played. She plays both of them, and is as great wearing a sari and glasses as she is with fake chest hair.
5. She knows many celebrities: Jay Sean, Connor Franta, Jenna Marbles, Grace Helbig, Colleen Ballinger,…
6. She sheds light on communities who are under represented in the public eye.
7. Lilly took part in the 2014 Youtube Rewind, alongside with the people who made 2014.
8. She manages to stay close to her fans: each month, the 14th ,she does an “Ask Superwoman Live”, which often lasts a few hours (!!!)
9. She has made a few music videos. She has a nice voice, but that’s not the most important thing about these videos: the lyrics of her songs are hilarious, such as: ” gonna clean my room, gonna take a broom, and a vacuum”. She made an entire song out of these sentences, and despite the appearances her freestyle makes it sound really good.
I could probably go on for a long time, but I’m not the best at showing you why watching her is worth it: she is. She once said “Many people can hurt others. There is no talent in that. True talent is being able to smile and take someone’s hurt away.” : this definition applies perfectly to Lilly.
Here is the link to her videos:
Candlemas or “candle celebration” is a renowned, religious and traditional celebration with pagan origins which is linked to light. It also corresponds to a Christian religious celebration called “The Presentation of Christ to the Temple”. It is actually celebrated on 2nd February that is 39 days after Christmas.
Originally, at Roman time, it was a celebration of the divinity Pan. All night, believers roamed the streets of Rome and agitated torches. In 472, Pope Gélase I decided to christianise this celebration which would become “The presentation of Christ to the Temple”.
Then, candle processions were organized according to a precise technique on that day and it also became known as Candlemas. Every believer must get a candle at the church and bring it home making sure to keep it alight. This blessed candle is supposed to have many powers, and it will protect people who keep it at home.
Meanwhile, another tradition appeared, that one of crepes. This tradition comes from an old myth which said that if you don’t make crepes the day of Candlemas, the wheat will be rotten all year.
Moreover, when we make crepes, we must respect a custom : indeed the farmers flip the first crepes with the right hand and with the left hand they must hold a gold coin. Then the gold coin is rolled-up in the crepe and put on the top of a wardrobe until the following year. The one who flips his crepe with skill will be blessed until the next Candlemas.
Today, candle processions and other rites don’t exist anymore but we still have the crepes tradition.
There are also other beliefs linked to the weather. In many countries, we believe that Candlemas day, a bear goes out of his den. If the temperature is mild and if he sees the sun, he quickly returns to hibernating again.
In other countries, it is the marmot which goes out. If she sees her shadow, it means that there is sun; as it scares her she quickly returns to continue to hibernate because it knows that the winter is still going to last.
For the food lovers : the crepe’s recipe.
Ingredients for four persons : – 250 g of flour, 4 eggs, 1/2 l of milk, 1 pinch of salt, 2 dessert spoons of sugar, 50 g of melted butter.
Pour the flour in a bowl; dig a hole in the middle and add the eggs. Beat well. Pour the milk little by little. Add the salt, the sugar and the melted better; mix quickly so that it doesn’t cook the eggs.
Heat up the frying pan and put a knob of butter. Put a ladle of crepe batter and put it in the frying pan. Wait for the crepe to cook on one side and flip it over. Serve it hot accompanied with sugar, jams, nutella, fruit…
1930: Born Catherine Marie-Agnes Fal de Saint Phalle at Neuilly-sur-Seine, from a wealthy family.
1932: Her father is bankrupted after the stock market crash in 1929. Niki is sent with her elder brother to live with their grandparents in the Nievre.
1933: The family is then reunited in Greenwich, Connecticut. The family lives in the United States but often comes back to the South of France in the maternal grandfather’s castle designed by Le Notre. She started to be influenced by two different ways of living.
1937: The family moves to New York City, where Catherine Marie-Agnes, called Niki goes to the Convent of the Sacred Heart. She falls into comic book reading and pays weekly visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
She hated conformity and authority and had to go to several different schools because she never adapted to any of them.
It is only when she finally settled down in Brearly School, that she found interest in reading other literary genres such as Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare and Dostoevsky whom she admired. She then started to write her own stories, poems and plays. She had so much passion and inspiration that it got her expelled from Brearly after she painted on the Dean statuary. She graduated in 1947, from a private girl boarding school in Maryland called Old Field.
1948: She went back to New York and worked as a fashion model for the biggest fashion magazines names such as Vogue, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle. She both worked in the United States and in France.
1949: At the age of eighteen she runs away several times with Harry Mathews and finally settles in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She starts painting, exploring her inspiration, experimenting styles while her husband studies music at Harvard. She has a first child named Laura in 1951.
1952: The couple moves back to Paris where she studies acting and where he continues his music studies. They cherish their daughter a lot and want to give her a real opening onto the world by travelling a lot through Europe mostly in Italy, Spain … always visiting artistic places such as museums and cathedrals. She is very much impressed by the elegance and the delicacy of the art and the power of faith found in cathedrals. They are a big inspiration for her future art.
1953: She is diagnosed with a nervous breakdown and is hospitalized in Nice where she paints the crisis in her mind. It is after she hits rock bottom that she realizes the importance art has on her life and starts to paint all the time, seeing it as the only way to communicate and understand the world.
1954: She slowly goes back to a social life in Paris where she meets Hugh Weiss, who becomes her mentor amazed by her self-taught style. She moves to Spain where she has a son Philip in 1955. Spain opens her to various new styles especially after she meets with Antonio Gaudi. She starts using different materials and adds sculpture and architecture to the strings of her bow.
1956: She goes back to France and lives in the Alps. She first exhibits in Switzerland and along her journey meets with various contemporary artists such as Kenneth Koch.
1959: She splits up with her husband and her children live with her ex-husband. She sets up her own studio in the impasse Rosin in Paris and drowns in her art. She collaborates with Jean Tangibly, her long-time friend and inspiration. She becomes, through her bicultural background, the link between American and French art and the ambassador of avant-gardism.
1961: She starts her series of paintings including shootings. The target of her “tirs” (shoots) are the painting, and she makes art from the shot of a rifle, cannon or pistol creating explosions of colors. She then exhibits all around the world mostly in the United States to which she is still very attached. She is introduced to Salvador Dali through her entrance in the Nouveau-Realisme mouvement and is invited to attend one of the celebrations of Dali’s art.
1963: She creates “King Kong” one of her most famous piece and is inspired by horror movies; starts creating monsters and dragons.
1965: She starts thinking about the position of women in society after the pregnancy of her dearest friend Clarisse. She creates the “everywoman” named “Nanas”. One of her versions of a “Nana” is called “Hon” and is a giant, being the entrance of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. The visitors enter the exhibition between her legs. She and her art start to be very discussed and related in worldwide paper.
1967: She is exposed to toxic fumes produced by polyester she manipulates for a new exhibition “Le Paradis Fantastique”. This really spot her lungs but it is all the materials that she has been using all along which really disintegrates her vital parts.
1969: She first establishes her permanent architectural project in her south of France mansion. It is in her garden that she exposes her art from previous exhibitions and where she keeps in and out various objects in three buildings.
1971: She marries Jean Tinguely on July 13th. She writes and produces the movie Daddy in which she plays the lead role. It is a psychological and surreal exploration of father-daughter relationships as the daughter is a child, then a teen and finally an adult.
1974: She builds three large scale “Nanas” in Hannover, Germany. They are named Sophie, Charlotte and Caroline representing three feminist figures of Hannover. She is hospitalized with serious lung issues and goes to live in the Swiss mountains for her health.
1978: Lives for a while in Malibu, California and has her first solo show in Japan at Gallery Watari, Tokyo.
1980: First show is organized in an experimental space, called SPACE NIKI, in Tokyo. It is a huge collection of her work in medias, films and artistic pieces.
1982: She creates a fragrance entitled “Niki” first sold in the American market. She uses the money she makes from the fragrance to finance her garden in France where she gathers the biggest pieces of her collection.
1989: She collaborates with her son Philip Mathews on an animated film based on her AIDS book. This film, drawings for the film, and a revised edition of the AIDS book, are published by The Agence Francaise de lutte contre le sida.
1991: Her husband Jean Tinguely dies.
1994: She settles down in California where she works and lives.
1996: She decides to open the Garden to the public.
2002: She dies in San Diego, because of her chronic breathing deficiency.
I chose to write this article about Niki, because after I went to her exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, I felt so inspired and free. The colors and the forms she uses to create her art are big, shiny and colorful and make you want to be happy. Despite the problems she had, both family and medical ones, she managed to create something special of her art, an art that conveys the values she believed in like feminism. Even though her French exhibition is over for now, I would love to go back or even to visit her garden in the South of France. Maybe one day…
Three weeks ago, I discovered the very colorful artists’ squat at the 59 rue de Rivoli. At the heart of Paris, this Haussmannian building houses a group of modern artists.
At the beginning, in 1999, the “KGB” (the trio Kalex, Gaspard Delanöe and Bruno) discovered this abandoned place (left by the national bank) and decided to settle there. A few days later, a lot of other artists came in the building. The city hall of Paris accepted not to expell them, nevertheless, they had to keep their workshops open for the public between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Today, this balance between the government and those artists still exists. Moreover, this is very impressive. Indeed, the outside of the building is always decorated with different creations made by the artists, changed each month.
But the inside is just as impressive. The stairwell is entirely covered by paint, collage, knickknacks, recycled objects, sequins…
You climb up the stairs and you arrive in front of a very colorful door with a lot of inscriptions on it : it is the ground floor.
Then, you can enter inside of the artists’ home, there are beds, kitchens and bathrooms… But especially some pieces of art everywhere: On the walls, on the ground. When you enter another room, you are confronted with another artistic universe. All the artists are different : women, men, French or foreigners, young people, old people. In their image, all the artistic creations are diverse and heterogeneous : some collages, paintings, photographs, graffitis, personal drawings, frescos made with some pieces of ceramic…
There are two things which struck me : one room within which there is a huge and impressive mess.
But it seems to be “an artistic mess”, with a lot of heterogeneous objects from everywhere. The second thing is an exhibition of little paintings made with hair, and, thanks to a play of light, you can see very beautiful shapes. Each floor is the discovery of a new universe, sometimes sweet ,funny or provoking. The artists are novice or experienced. For example, I met an Italian artist who made the Florence’s School of Fine Arts and he had all the points as well as the congratulations of the jury. In all, the building has about four or five floors and houses about twenty artists from all over the world. At the end of the visit, you can drink a glass of mulled wine or lemonade according to the season. (Almost) all the artists are very nice and welcoming, open-minded and happy to talk with you about their passion (or anything else).
If you don’t like to spend about five hours in a museum with pieces of art that you don’t like either, if you love art and feel free when you see it, 59 Rivoli is a place for you.