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Among the films being screened this month by the Museum of Modern Art for the series Modern Matinees: The Body Politic is, above, “The President’s Analyst,” featuring, left, James Coburn, and directed by Theodore J. Flicker in 1967. (USA). Courtesy Photofest.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak
To the memory of Jill Johnston, my Chantal Akerman. And for Ingrid, her widow, in profound appreciation. And for Chris, roommate sublime. And for Ben, collaborator, friend, and twin. And for Mark Dendy, idol and vector. And for P., friend and counselor. And for Amandine and spouse, voisines parisiennes des jours du 49 rue de Paradis.
I wasn’t going to take this brazenly political approach to writing about the exhibition Chantal Akerman: “Maniac Shadows,” which opened last Saturday at the Ferme du Buisson outside Paris, where it continues through February 19, because much as viewing art in a political and social context has almost existential importance to me as a journalist and citizen — and is, I feel, an honorable way to promote art’s societal relevance and thus potentially garner it a larger audience — I’m hyper-aware that it’s also unfair to impose my worldview, or angle and prism for viewing the world, on the subject I’m writing about. What should prime is capturing, as best I can, his or her expression as he or she intended it. It also didn’t seem fair to enlist Akerman, ipso facto and post-mortem, in a cause some might perceive as narrowly and exclusively centered on the rights of gay people, given that (as far as I can observe — and I might be wrong, because I certainly haven’t seen everything) her work doesn’t seem to focus particularly on the facet of her identity related to her sexual orientation; like all complete artists worth the designation, she’s neither defined nor limited by her own particular identities. (Even though obviously they inform her work, particularly Akerman’s Jewish background, which includes being the child of a Holocaust survivor, a frequent source of inspiration. But so is having lived in Brussels, Paris, and New York….And Godard’s “Pierrot le fou.”) And as a foreigner in these brittle times, I’m not particularly comfortable commenting on local politics, a subject which might justly be seen as none of my onions and a pursuit which thus might seem ungracious.
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Besides Tintin, among the 68% of lots on offer sold during Artcurial’s Paris Bandes Desinées (Comics) and Hergé sales last week-end which helped the auction house gross $4.72 million, surpassing its pre-sale estimates by nearly $500,000, was, above, a rare Sunday color strip from George Herriman (1880 -1944)’s surrealistic “Krazy Kat” strip. The china ink and watercolor signed and framed original, measuring 57 x 37 cm, is one of only 12 remaining color strip originals.. Estimated pre-sale at 35,000 – 45,000 Euros, the lot sold for 38,300 Euros, or $40,598. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.
It may represent just one small step for Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock, but the price paid by a European collector Saturday at Artcurial Paris for the original page depicting the Hergé characters’ landing on the moon from the 1954 “On a marché sur la lune” (We walked on the moon) represented one giant leap for Tintin-kind: 1,553,312 Euros ($1,646,510), doubling Artcurial’s pre-sale estimate of 700,000 – 900,000 Euros and the most ever paid for a single original page by Hergé. An ensemble of the originals for 20 Christmas-themed cards created in 1942-43, meanwhile — pre-sale estimated at 60,000 – 120,000 Euros a pop by the leading auction house for all things Tintin — yielded a total of 1.5 million Euros, or $1.5 million. It’s enough to leave even a life-long Tintin fan… speechless. Above: Hergé (Georges Rémi dit), historic page from the album “On a marché sur la lune,” published in 1954. Copyright Hergé / Moulinsart 2016. — Paul Ben-Itzak
Hergé (Georges Rémi dit): Snow card, China ink and watercolor on paper, 1942/43, original drawing and printed edition. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 60,000 – 120,000 Euros / $66,000 – 132,000 (each). Copyright Hergé / Moulinsart 2016.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak
Several years ago, taking the Thalys train from Paris to Brussels, I encountered a young Belgian psychologist who related how her grandmother had escaped from arriving at the death camps by jumping naked from a speeding train. So when I saw that the 20 original China ink drawings for a series of Christmas cards featuring Tintin and other characters — being auctioned off by Artcurial in Paris tomorrow for prices pre-sale estimated at a whopping $66,000 – $132,000 apiece — were designed by Hergé in 1942-43, I found it problematic that at a time when Belgian Jews were being deported from the occupied country to their deaths, Hergé was producing happy-go-lucky, business-as-usual Christmas cards to be sold to luckier Belgians.
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Basé en Dordogne, Paul Ben-Itzak, le redacteur / journaliste / animateur de l’Arts Voyager, francaisanglaistraduction, et Dance Insider, cherche un logement a Paris. (Location, sous-location, co-location, ou echange pour services — traduction/ redaction, DJ, cuisine, website development, etc.) Merci de me contacter a email@example.com. (Il faut copier cette addresse mail a votre messagerie.) Avec moi j’ai une petite chatte blanche, trés propre. (Je l’attache — voir la photo — seulement quand elle proméne sur le balcon, histoire d’empecher qu’elle saute!)