The National Library of France Reopens with Renovations That Add 21st Century Details to the Beaux-Arts Gem
After more than a decade of renovations by architect Bruno Gaudin, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France reopened last fall with more light and space to view both the massive collections and the original Beaux-Arts features of the space.
Spread across two sites, the Richelieu and François-Mitterrand, the now-updated repository at Richelieu dates back to the 18th century. French architect Henri Labrouste originally designed the main reading room, known as the Salle Ovale, which is largely preserved with a vaulted glass ceiling spanning 60 feet, mosaics cloaking the ceilings, and hundreds of thousands of volumes lining the perimeter and interior shelves. The regal space is now open to the public for the first time.
For the renovation, Gaudin added a large, steel and aluminum staircase that spirals toward the upper floors, which house a museum and the nearly 150-foot-long Mazarin Gallery with its Baroque frescoed ceiling. A glass walkway with an angular, sloping roof connects the east and west sides of the library, and the architect added a new entrance for greater accessibility.
Alongside books, the library also stores a vast array of historical documents and artworks totaling 22 million objects. Inside its halls, you’ll find the second-largest collection of Greek vases in the world, original prints from Rembrandt and Picasso, an engraving by Matisse, a Gutenberg Bible, and Charlemagne’s ivory chess set, to name a few.
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Infrared Light Enhances Versailles, Provence, and the Beaches of Normandy with Dreamy Shades of Pink
Previously having captured the Dolomites and New York City’s Central Park in a candy-colored glow, photographer Paolo Pettigiani now adds urban and rural France to his ongoing collection of infrared images. The magical series documents the rolling lavender fields of Provence in watermelon hues and Versailles’s landscaped terraces or the Gothic abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel in bright, saturated tones. Pettigiani shoots each location with a full-spectrum camera that unveils otherwise invisible wavelengths and enhances the trees, grasses, and stone surfaces that reflect infrared light with varying shades of pink.
See more from the France Infraland series on Pettigiani’s Behance and Instagram, and shop prints of the surreal landscapes on Lumas.
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Documentary Food History
Immerse Yourself in the Luxurious Process of Artisan Butter Making at a French Shop
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better pairing for the flood of sourdough loaves baked in recent months than a pat of butter, and perhaps a tour of Le Beurre Bordier will inspire the next craze for ambitious home cooks. Claudia Romeo, a journalist with Food Insider, meets with artisan Jean-Yves Bordier to document the processes of French butter making at the Bordeaux shop, revealing the slow and luxurious methods of manufacturing the milky staple.
Le Beurre Bordier is dedicated to 19th-century practices, including using a wooden malaxage, a large grooved wheel, to churn the substance and extract excess water. Workers knead the butter by hand, constantly slicing it with their fingers and turning it over and over, before shaping it into miniature cones and stamped cylinders. The entire process is measured and manual, similar to the laborious nature of baking bread from scratch.
For more of Food Insider’s deep dives into global food culture, head to YouTube.
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Infrared Photographs by Pierre-Louis Ferrer Capture French Landscapes in Bright Yellow Hues
In French photographer Pierre-Louis Ferrer’s vibrant photographs, Dordogne, France is transformed into an enchanted land bathed in canary yellow. Ferrer’s colorful photographs illustrate the country’s idyllic topography, where the leaves upon the trees, fresh grass, and sculpted shrubbery are captured in the same vivid color.
While photographing, Ferrer takes time to observe his environment and decide on the best photographic technique to use. For his Dordogne photographs, Ferrer used an infrared photography technique which allowed him to capture the landscape in brilliant yellows. “My artistic approach is based on the invisible and imperceptible,” Ferrer tells Colossal. “I work with invisible parts of light (infrared and ultraviolet) and with techniques like long exposure to offer alternative views of our world.”
This yellow effect in Ferrer’s Dordogne photographs is due to a mix of visible and infrared light, and each plant species appears different depending on how it reacts to the light. “I use a selective filter that let’s pass a large part of infrared light and a small part of visible light,” Ferrer explains. “The main subjects of this technique are trees and foliage because they react a lot under infrared light.”
Although yellow is prevalent in nature; found in bananas, autumnal leaves, egg yolks, and the irises of some animal’s eyes, in Ferrer’s photographs he standardizes all natural elements, highlighting the color’s prevalence in natural forms.
As human eyes are not used to infrared light (due to its longer wavelengths), Ferrer’s photographs invite viewers to see Dordogne as through they are in a different dimension. The extravagant Jardins Suspendus at Marqueyssac and its ivy-covered châteaux are transformed into an ethereal world that might otherwise only appear in paintings.
Although fantastical, Ferrer’s photographs encourage mindfulness and allow us to reflect upon the importance of nature. “My goals are to invite contemplation, to realize the place of nature in urban places, to make aware of the impact of our environment on us, and our impact on the environment.”
To view more about his work visit his website and Instagram.
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The Walls of a Fortress City in Southern France Ripple With Bright Yellow Concentric Circles
Twenty years ago, the fortress city of Carcassonne in southern France was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In celebration of the important anniversary, Swiss artist Felice Varini (previously) was commissioned by France’s Centre des Monuments Nationaux to install a massive illusion of concentric yellow circles on the city’s border. The installation, titled “Concentric Concentric,” was installed this spring and will remain up through September, 2018.
Although at first glance the striking yellow marks appear to be painted directly on the surface of the ancient stones—a somewhat alarming gesture for a declared historic site—the circles are actually very thin pieces of colored aluminum, which were carefully adhered to the city’s walls and turrets by local art students. Varini’s bold installation has garnered quite a bit of attention, not all of it positive. In a video interview, included below, the artist explains how he conceived of this particular work. You can see more of his colorful illusions on Facebook. (via Arrested Motion)
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A Skeletal Wooden Kraken Climbs From Remote Ruins in France
French artist Thomas Voillaume, a.k.a. APACH, likes to mix his background in sculpture and video to 3D map digital works onto larger-than-life public sculptures in urban environments. For his 2016 sculpture The Kraken however, the artist decided to construct the work with a more minimal approach. The piece is an open wooden structure built into the ruins of Val d’Escrein, a remote valley in Hautes-Alpes, France. Its body is situated at the center of the stone building, while its six pointed legs reach over the crumbling walls.
Voillaume’s work is one of three monumental installations scattered throughout the region, including eleven illuminated dandelion sculptures formed from clusters of milk bottles by Alice and David Bertizzolo and a giant wooden hand by Pedro Marzorati. You can take a look at more of Voillaume’s work on his website and Instagram, and view a behind-the-scenes video of The Kraken’s construction (with horses!) in the video below. (via Colossal Submissions)
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