This week the Paris Musées added 100,000 digital copies of its artworks to the public domain, making them free and unrestricted for the public to download and use. From Claude Monet’s “Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” to Paul Cézanne’s “Portrait of Ambroise Vollard,” the collection contains work from artists, such as Gustave Courbet, Victor Hugo, and Rembrandt, that are housed at 14 museums in Paris like the Musée d’Art Moderne, Petit Palais, and even the catacombs.
Each file contains the high-resolution image, a description about the piece, and the location of the original work, in addition to an exhibition history and citation tips. Most of the images available right now capture 2D works, although there are lower resolution files available of pieces that are not yet in the public domain, providing visitors to the site a chance to view more of the museums’ collections. The site also offers virtual exhibitions, with a project centered on the collections at Maison de Victor Hugo currently on view. (via Hyperallergic)
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A circular net in a bright shades of neon greens, yellows, and pinks hovers above the Paris-based shopping complex Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann in a new installation to celebrate the impending arrival of summer. The suspended playground gives visitors a chance to at once lie underneath the brilliant dome at the center of the building, while also watching shoppers bustling on the ground floor below. The installation is a part of the store’s Funorama initiative which in addition to the central play area, also includes “fun zones” such as old school arcade games, a VR experience, and foosball. Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann invites guests to play, bounce, and lounge on the colorful structure through June 9, 2019. (via fubiz)
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With the help of a small army of 400 volunteers, French artist JR (previously) pasted thousands of strips of paper around the Louvre in Paris, turning the courtyard around the museum into a massive optical illusion. Installed in honor of the structure’s 30th anniversary, the collage titled “The Secret of the Great Pyramid” provides a glimpse at what may lie beneath the iconic glass pyramid.
A follow-up to his 2016 work that made the museum disappear against the backdrop of the Louvre Palace, JR’s new illusion reveals a construction site with the tip of the pyramid at its center and a much larger structure extending down into a rocky quarry. In a “Photo of the Day” post on his website, the artist explains that the installation was designed to last a single weekend. “The images, like life, are ephemeral,” JR writes. “Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. The process is all about participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir catchers. This project is also about presence and absence, about reality and memories, about impermanence.”
Some visitors took pieces of the installation home, while other strips torn by foot traffic have been discarded. To see more of JR’s large-scale photo installations, follow the artist on Instagram.
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Slow Lens is the newest piece from French artist Vincent Leroy, who often explores optics and light in his large-scale installation work. The piece is suspended from above, and a network of curved, translucent lenses distorts the viewer’s perspective. Displayed en plein air, the connected lenses slowly rotate and ofter multiplied visions of the surrounding environment. Leroy installed and documented Slow Lens in various locations around Paris, including in highway lanes that were vacant due to pollution-induced city traffic restrictions.
The artist shares with Colossal that he seeks to spark a focus on detail, and inspire contemplation and dreaming, and notes that the work is particularly abstract when viewed at night. You can watch a brief video below that shows Slow Lens in motion. Vincent Leroy is represented by Denise Rene Gallery in Paris. The artist shares more of his work on Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
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Edited Film Footage from 1890's Paris Explores Some of the Everyday Thrills of Late 19th-Century Life
Videographer Guy Jones (previously) slows down film from the late 1800s to early 1900s to more accurately match the speed at which modern footage is recorded and played. In addition to editing the pace of the century-old film, Jones also adds in sound effects to make the scenes more relatable. The editor creates foley to accompany the clomping of horses’ hooves, indistinctive background chatter of crowds, and the ringing of train bells.
In one of his Youtube videos from September, Jones edited together footage from Paris during the Belle Époque-era (1896-1900). The clips include visitors to the 1900 Paris Exposition standing on a moving walkway, a shot of the Eiffel Tower from a boat as it travels down the Seine River, and a short clip of boys playing with miniature sailboats in the Tuileries Garden. Passersby stare into the camera as they walk by in each scene, like a goateed man who walks across the screen near a minute and eight seconds into the clip, and then quickly returns for second appearance
The films were taken by the Lumière brothers, some of the first filmmakers in history. They are cited with making some of the first documentaries, albeit extremely short ones. You can see more of Jones’ video edits on Youtube. (via Kottke)
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Against the backdrop of Paris Fashion Week which introduced several collaborative projects between high fashion brands and big names from the art world (Dior partnered with KAWS and Takashi Murakami continued collaborating with Virgil Abloh, the new artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection), the French capital was hit for the first time hit by the world’s most elusive street artist—Banksy.
Without previous announcement or warning, Parisians began to discover several new street pieces that quickly materialized in the urban/street art galaxy of the social media universe and were eventually confirmed on Banksy’s official Instagram account.
The first piece was found near the Porte de la Chapelle metro station, where Paris’ refugee centre “La Bulle,” was located until August 2017. A city within a city, it was home to a makeshift camp of some 2,700 refugees and was dismantled an estimated 35 times before 2,000 migrants were bussed to temporary shelters. This was done as part of Emmanuel Macron’s wish to remove the refugees “off the streets, out of the woods,” as stated during his campaign.
With this in mind, Banksy revisited his “Go Flock Yourself” piece from 2008, and created a new version as commentary on the current political situation in France and throughout Europe. Depicting a black girl painting a Victorian wallpaper pattern over a swastika, the artist is commenting on the way politicians are concealing wrongdoing and potentially fascist policies.
The second and third pieces appeared soon thereafter. One depicts a suited man luring a three-legged dog with a bone while hiding a saw behind his back, a metaphor for politicians tricking people with promises that often have a masked, devastating agenda. The other is Banksy’s take on the iconic painting “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David, a symbol of French power and influence. By covering the rider with his own cape, the artist is commenting on the current misguided way the government is leading the country, blinding people with propaganda and false promises.
The last three pieces introduce Bansky’s signature rats to their genesis—Parisian artist Blek Le Rat and his rat stencils were a great influence on the Bristol-born artist, or as he stated in one of his recent IG posts: “The birthplace of modern stencil art.” Placing them around the city in ways that interact with local graffiti and building facades, it may appear as though they’re having fun blowing things up. But in reality, they are a reminder of a volatile period of civil unrest that took place in May 1968 when the government temporarily ceased to function.
In one piece a rat is propelled by a popping champagne cork. Using this symbol of affluence as their vehicle to overtake obstacles, the rodents are once again Banksy’s metaphor for working class people making significant change when they join together and fight for similar cause.
Of particular note in this Banksy “invasion” was that some of the works were miraculously revised overnight, allowing the artist to highlight one of the biggest advantages of stencil technique–its ability to be applied quickly and precisely. With this in mind, a small rat prepared to blow up a Pompidou Center sign suddenly morphed into a much larger rat with bandanna covered face. It now wields a large X-Acto knife, a common symbol of stencil cutting.
Included here are many of the works that have since emerged in Paris, but you can see several more here.
Update: This article was updated on 6/28/18 to include new images and details.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.