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Art Of The Day Weekly

#266 - from 5 July 2012 to 11 July 2012

Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (photo R. Pic)


Bethlehem, the heritage of discord

In the consensual atmosphere that reigns in Europe, we have a tendency to forget that old stones are not put in their place innocently only to lure tourists. They can also keep passions alive as we can see in the recent case of the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem being included in the list of World heritage. Yet nothing should contradict this decision made by Unesco: the construction that attracts pilgrims from all over the world digs its roots into two millenniums of history. But as we know nothing is simple in this region. All we need to do is remember that Jerusalem was included in the same list upon the request of Jordan, a third country. This would go in favor for the concept of universality which tends to take over in the field of justice: when Spanish judge Garzón brought the Chilean Pinochet to justice he believed the importance and non-applicability of limitations of his crimes authorized all magistrates to take him to court. Israel and the U.S.A. who fear the irreversibility of the process to give recognition to Palestine would have preferred for the request concerning Bethlehem to come from another country, and that fewer diplomatic consequences would be attached. The case is interesting and shows there is some way to go before heritage is free from political and just considered as a common heritage of mankind, like water and air.
• The Church of the Nativity was included in the World Heritage list of UNESCO on 29 June 2012, together with 25 other sites, of which the Mining Basin of Pas-de-Calais in France and the major mines in Wallonia in Belgium.

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Jean Prouvé in front of his house in Nancy, circa 1955. Archives Prouvé family © Adagp, Paris

Jean Prouvé in four dimensions

NANCY - He is one of the major builders of the XXth century, the pioneer of the wall-curtain - of which we can see an example at the Maison du peuple, in Clichy - the virtuoso of prefabricated homes- an example was exposed on the roof of the Centre Pompidou after breaking records in an auction. But this great industrialist who would be 111 years old today was also a decorator, an artisan with iron, a humanist, concerned with contributing to the improvement of living conditions of his contemporaries. All these dimensions are explored in an urban itinerary that concerns his own home and his plant in Maxéville, as well as in four exhibitions that each explores a facet of his talent.
Jean Prouvé à Nancy, from 30 June to 29 October 2012 (musée de l'Ecole de Nancy, musée Lorrain, musée des Beaux-Arts, galeries Poirel).

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These exhibitions also open this week

William Blake, a chief dreamer

MADRID - The CaixaForum unveils the baffling imagination, the hybrid visions of the secular and the sacred of William Blake, through 80 works shown in Spain for the first time. From 4 July to 21 October 2012.

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A feast for kings

BLOIS – What did people eat in the times of François Ist? And according to what ritual? And what about forks? At the royal castle, which hosted the best writers and artists, Festins de la Renaissance makes things clear about the golden age of French gastronomy. From 7 July to 21 October 2012.

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Wolinski, top 500

PARIS – From Charlie Hebdo to the French Bibliothèque nationale: Georges Wolinski, press drawer, caricaturist, a fine observer who exposes contemporary society has made the big leap. In the fund he recently donated to the institution, 500 of his original drawings are being shown. From 28 June to 2 September 2012.

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The 'Wyman Fragment', Bible, Paul's Epistle to the Romans, in Greek uncials, manuscript on vellum, Egypt (probably region of Fustat, late IIIrd century. Estimate: £150,000-200,000 (EUR 181,890-242,521)

At the beginning, was the written word

LONDON – Paper, what old stuff! It’s passé… This material to which Erik Orsenna has just dedicated a loving advocacy, is the back bone of the auction presented by Sotheby’s based on the Schoyen collection. What ancient things and so expensive! One example is the Wyman fragment of St Paul’s epistle to the Romans, transcribed in Greek uncials in Egypt in the IIIrd century, estimated at 150 000 £. Or yet the commentary on Saint Benoit’s rule by Smaragdus from Saint-Mihiel, a real buy at 50 000 £, traced in tiny Visigoths on vellum, over by Burgos in the Xth century. And so it goes, with some other 58 exceptional pieces of which many have seen the centuries go by. The matter tickles us: how will we recuperate in some one thousand years a post facebook or a tweet sent today? We would easily bet that it will be more complicated than to decypher the manuscripts of the Dead Sea…
The History of Script : 60 Important Manuscript Leaves from the Schoyen Collection, at Sotheby’s on 10 July 2012.

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Marc Lathuillière, Portrait : Agnès Varda

Marc Lathuillière walks in the steps of Ulysse

He was a journalist, a great traveler –whose travels took him to Thailand, to Nepal, to India, r the USA. Then he skipped over to plastic creation while all seems to forbid this type of transformation… Lathuillière the traveler reached out to meet human beings, Lathuillière the artist questions their identity and their future. And he confronts them to hybrid forms which technology and the global village make inevitable («Le peuple fluo» presented in Bangkok) or by covering them with masks that sap their personal identity (the series «France face perdue» or the «11 Menteurs de Vientiane»). Just like Depardon, Lathuillière did his tour of France but the residents he met all look the same. A little distressing. Fortunately, in our times, clothes suffice to give us an identity! His last project, Ithaque, brings together the themes of exile by invading La Rochelle, the city of great departures.
Ithaque de Marc Lathuillière, expositions in various museums and monuments of La Rochelle (musée d’histoire naturelle, musée des Beaux-Arts, Musée maritime, La Coursive scène nationale, towers of La Rochelle) as of 28 June 2012

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The Impressionist wind rose

At what floor of the place Dauphine did Pissarro stand to paint the Seine without being bothered by the dust? Who remembers that at the hotel-Drouot in 1878, during the Hoschedé auction, a Corot was sold for 7 francs? Do you know that according to a brand new theory Vincent van Gogh death at the auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise was actually a murder by two bad boys in a scenario in the Pasolini style? By combining knowledge and anecdotes, Schlesser leads his readers, on the beaten paths of Impressionism of course (how could the Folies-Bergère or the Grands Boulevards not be included in this list?) but we also go off beat by nurturing his texts with the latest data taken from research. We would have loved to spend an afternoon with him at the Ferme Saint-Siméon so that he could tell us how Alphonse Allais had changed mère Toutain’s horses into zebras with a pot of paint… We would have reprimanded him if he had forgotten to tell us that the Impressionists fetishist beverage, the absinthe seen in Caillebotte’s painting Dans un café, forbidden in 1915, is now again authorized. He should taste the one of the Combier distillery in Saumur...
Escapades impressionnistes, de Paris à Honfleur, by Thomas Schlesser, Parigramme, 2012, 224 p., €19.90.

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BEIRUT - The modern and contemporary art fair Beyrouth Art Fair will be held from 5 to 8 July 2012.

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BRITTANY - The 21st edition of «L'art dans les chapelles», an event that combines contemporary art and religious patrimony in the region of Pontivy, wil be held from 6 July to 16 September 2012.

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PIAZZA ARMERINA (Sicily) – Villa Romana del Casale, knownfor its famous Roman mosaics of bathers in bikinis, will reopen to the public on 4 July 2012.

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