Have Pen, will Travel: A forward-looking memoir of Paris, the Dordogne, Cahors, Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami Beach, New York, Maryland, Montana, Connecticut, San Francisco, Reno, and the High Sierras

chi steinberg train smallPaul Ben-Itzak’s new 40-page Memoir, including art by Ansel Adams, Robert L. Berry, Lou Chapman, James Daugherty, Gustave Caillebotte, Jacob Lawrence, Sylvie Lesgourgues, David Levinthal, Roy Lichtenstein, Sam Peckinpah, Charles M. Russell, Saul Steinberg, and Frank Lloyd Wright from both current exhibitions and the AV Archives, is now available. To receive your own copy as a PDF or Word document, including 35 illustrations, please send $19.95 to the AV by designating your PayPal payment to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn about payment by check. Your purchase includes a complimentary one-year subscription to the Arts Voyager and Dance Insider ($29.95 value). Above: Saul Steinberg, “Train,” From the exhibition Along the Lines: Selected Drawings by Saul Steinberg, on view through October 29 at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Ascenseur au Pantheon du Cinema: Jeanne Moreau est morte — Long live Jeanne Moreau

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

Jeanne Moreau, the embodiment of French film and muse to the giants of French and World cinema for seven decades, including Francois Truffaut (“Jules and Jim”), Louis Malle (“Ascenseur pour l’echaffaud”), Orson Welles, Luis Bunuel and countless others, was found dead in her Paris apartment this morning by her maid, French radio reported. Jeanne Moreau was 89 years old.

After making her theatrical debut at Jean Vilar’s Festival d’Avignon in 1947 and subsequently joining the Comedie Francaise before leaving it for Vilar’s new and pioneering Theatre National Populaire in 1951, Moreau never really left the French stage or screen, continuing to be a formidable presence with her distinctive gravelly voice well into the current decade.

“My voice changed with the years and the cigarettes, but my voice is like that,” Moreau said. “One should never take advantage of one’s tools; at that instant one becomes manipulative. Even with men, I never played the coquette.”

“She’s an absolute monument,” declared the actor Pierre Arditti, speaking today on French public radio. “The very model of what an actor must make of her metier. She’s the very example, that is to say that she was always conscious of her art; when it came to playing someone else, she always mined herself.”

“In a certain manor, she incarnated the modern woman even before the explosion of feminism,” explained Eve Beton, a cinema commentator for French public radio, adding, “This was a woman who loved words; her home was packed with books.” Among other signature moments, Beton singled out Moreau’s poignant portrayal of an ex-convict in Bertrand Blier’s 1974 “Les Valseuses,” which made stars of Gerard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere, as two incorrigible youth on a rampage through France. “They encounter this woman as she’s being let out of prison, they sleep with her, and the next morning she commits suicide.” Moreau’s brief appearance was so moving that it eclipsed that of an icon of a younger generation whom the two seduce earlier in the film: Isabelle Huppert.

It was one of many roles in which Moreau revealed what Serge Toubiana, the former director of the Cinematheque Francaise, described as her strong sense of a ‘sovereign self.’ “She had such a taste for liberty,” Toubiana said, “that she revolutionized the very concept of what it meant to be a star. I rarely encountered such an independent personality. Truffaut said of her, in ‘Jules and Jim,’ ‘She is prestigious.'” For Orson Welles, who directed Moreau in his 1962 “The Trial” after Kafka, Toubiana said, she “incarnated the French language, the French panache.”

While it was not her debut film — among other roles, she’d already held her own opposite French film legend Jean Gabin (France’s answer to Humphrey Bogart) in Jacques Decker’s 1954 Paris polaire “Touchez pas au Grisbi” — the film which announced Moreau’s arrival, Toubiana remembered, was Louis Malle’s 1957 “Ascenseur pour l’echafaud” when, to the melancholy trumpet notes of Miles Davis, she walked the Paris streets, sans make-up (Moreau didn’t need any to make an indelible impression), in search of her man.

Also speaking on French public radio this afternoon, Jean-Claude Carrier, who adapted the scenario for Luis Bunuel’s 1964 “Diary of a Chamber Maid,” recalled, “One day Jeanne came to see me and said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on with Luis. He’s not telling me anything. I have the impression that he doesn’t like what I’m doing.” When Carrier reported the remark to the director, Bunuel replied, “What do you want me to tell her? It’s she who’s teaching me things about the character.”

If Toubiana and others pointed to Moreau’s audacity, for the actress it was an audacity she put to the service of the directors with whom she worked in over 130 films. “What’s interesting,” she said in a recent interview, “is to have commenced in 1948 and have told stories in a different way…. with the Nouvelle Vague, and after, it changed again. In fact these are always the same stories, but told in a different manner. And it’s good to allow a young woman or young man to be conscious, and to have the audacity to express his desire and not be timorous. One should never submit.”

Word up!: Macron names renowned publisher new French culture minister

PARIS — From a minister of culture during the precedent administration who famously admitted that she didn’t have time to read books, newly inaugurated president Emmanuel Macron and his freshly-minted prime minister Edouard Philippe, both famous readers and promoters of literature, today took a major step in recuperating the image of a portfolio for years honored by Andre Malraux by naming as the country’s minister of culture and communications Françoise Nyssen, long-time director of Arles-based Actes Sud, one of the crème de la crème of French publishers. Together with Macron’s campaign promise to increase library hours at night and on the week-ends, and Philippe’s record as mayor of Havre in sending bookmobiles around the coastal city, the appointment of Nyssen, who also founded a school focused on listening to the child after the suicide of one of her own children, augurs well.

Europe at the Crossroads: Portes Ouvertes de Belleville & the Prè Saint-Gervais, Performers from Around the World — Artists Converge on Paris; Help the Arts Voyager be there

Parce que oui, la Culture française – comme d’ailleurs tous les cultures qui déferle vers Paris – appartient au monde qu’elle a si souvent rayonné, et il faut refusé de la laisse etre confiné et sequestré par les forces de l’Obscurantisme.

For subscription and sponsorship opportunities starting at $69, contact Paul Ben-Itzak at artsvoyager@gmail.com.

 The Open Studios or Portes Ouvertes de Belleville  and those of the Prè Saint-Gervais, performers including Berlin’s Constanza Macras, Portugal’s Vera Mantero, a major exhibition devoted to Camille Pissarro paintings rarely seen in France, Belgium’s Alain Platel, Spain’s Israel Galvan, Crystal Pite — these are just a few of the major cultural happenings in Paris and environs this Spring that the Arts Voyager and Dance Insider will be able to cover with your support.

Many of you first read about these internationally renowned artists and events for the first time in English in our journals and, continuing our 20-year mission of bringing you stories not told elsewhere, we’ll also be reporting on Giulio D’Anna, a Netherlands-based Italian choreographer whose “OOOOOOO” is inspired by Zagreb’s “Museum of Broken Relationships,” and Jasna Vinovrski’s “Lady Justice,” addressing the relationship between justice and art. Speaking of art, we’d also like to bring you Yasmina Reza’s “Art” as interpreted at the Theatre de la Bastille by the pioneering Belgium theater company STAN . And of intersections between art and society, this year’s Chantiers (Building Projects) d’Europe festival at the Theatre de la Ville features countries in the front lines of the refugee crisis, notably in six short films from Greece addressing this topic and a public brainstorming session with artists from six countries. Most of all we’ll be able to bring you into the studios of the 200+ artists taking part in the Open Studios of Belleville — a neighborhood which in its very MULTI-CULTURAL contours and dimensions provides the best retort to the cloistered vision of French culture represented by the National Front. (We share the FN’s stated pride in traditional French culture; we simply argue that this definition is too limited and does not do justice to the grandeur and ouverture to the world that has always been French culture.) Click here to read our coverage of last year’s Open Studios / Portes Ouvertes de Belleville.

Already a subscriber or sponsor? Please forward this story to your colleagues. Want to become one? Contact us at paulbenitzak@gmail.com . Subscribers receive full access to our 20-year archive of more than 2,000 reviews by 150 leading artist-critics of performances on five continents, plus five years of the Jill Johnston Letter as well as Arts Voyager art galleries, film reviews, and travelogues from Paris, New York, and across the U.S.. Sponsors receive this plus advertising on The Dance Insider, and/or the Arts Voyager.

France, too, is at the crossroads. On May 7  the country will choose between the fear represented by the National Front and the hope and optimism represented by Emmanuel Macron. Between closure and opening. In the campaign between these two ‘cultures’ that has raged in this country for the past two years, CULTURE has been all but forgotten. (Among Macron’s refreshing ideas: More library hours.) With your help, we will be able to do our part in restoring some light to what has always been France’s principal calling card around the world. Our calling for more than 20 years.Many thanks and

Cheers,

Paul
artsvoyager@gmail.com

Liberté & Fraternité: Brassens stripped by Sfar

brassens-by-sfar

“Brassens Danse.” ©Joann Sfar and courtesy Cité de la Musique.

brassens-doisneau“Georges Brassens au métro Glaciére avec un sans abri, 1953.” (Georges Brassens at the Metro Glaciere with a homeless man, 1953.) ©Robert Doisneau and courtesy Cité de la Musique.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

If there are four things the French adore, they are: anniversaries, anarchists, comics, and Georges Brassens. The new exhibition at the Cité de la Musique at the parc La Villette in the north of Paris, co-curated by comics giant Joann Sfar (author of “The Rabbi’s Cat” comics series and director of the film “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life”) testifies to all these amours in a giant way, commemorating the 90th anniversary of the birth and 30th of the death of Brassens, France’s signature poet-troubador, in an creatively curated exhibition that uses comics to help revive the anarchist the patina of nostalgia has often obscured.

To receive the rest of the article from the Arts Voyager Archives, first published June 1, 2011, including more cartoons by Joann Sfar, Arts Voyager & Dance Insider subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Arts Voyager & Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, employees, company, association and collective members, etc.) and receive full access to our  Archive of 2,000 articles by 150 leading critics on performances, film, and art and culture from five continents published from 1998 through 2017. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check or in Euros. Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com .

Vivre Utopié

mekas-film

Louise Bourgeois in Jonas Mekas’s new “Sleepless Nights Stories.” Image courtesy Jonas Mekas.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

Halfway through “La Commune,” Peter Watkins’s 5-hour, 45-minute tour de force which simultaneously resurrects the insurrectional barricades Parisians erected around their city to stave off a new monarchist-leaning government and tears down the barricades between documentary and fiction, I had to stop and e-mail a Parisian friend to ask if she’d seen the film. My friend — an artist denizen of Belleville, one of the quarters which lead the rebellion — had not even heard of it. This vindicated Watkins as far as the one reservation I have about “La Commune,” that the otherwise educative inter-titles, filling in the basic historical timeline around the events of March – May 1871, sometimes cede to the film-maker’s rants about the obstacles to getting his film distributed in France — even its co-producer the German-French television network Arté screened “La Commune” from 11 at night to 4 in the morning — and claims that the Commune is under-taught in French schools. The media blockade is not incidental, indeed validates the pertinence of a film which resurrects a utopian societal ideal which directly menaces the financial elites.

To receive the rest of this article from the Arts Voyager Archives, first published December 13, 2011, including more images and, in addition to “La Commune,” reviews of Alain Tanner’s “Charles, Dead or Alive” and Jonas Mekas’s “Sleepless Nights,” Arts Voyager & Dance Insider subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Arts Voyager & Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, employees, company, association and collective members, etc.) and receive full access to our Archive of 2,000 articles by 150 leading critics on performances, film, and art and culture from five continents published from 1998 through 2017. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check or in Euros. Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com .

 

Pourquoi je voterai Benoît Hamon

Par Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

“Il faut se saisir de la réalité tant qu’il est vécu par nos compatriotes.”

— Benoît Hamon, France Inter, le 23 janvier 2017

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” (Volez comme un papillon, piquez comme un abeille)

— Muhammad Ali, citation collée au dessus du bureau de Benoit Hamon

De l’extrême gauche a l’extrême droite — avec quelques exceptions sur quelques points de la part de Yannick Jadot & Emmanuel Macron — tous les candidats à l’élection presidentielle française dit qu’ils sont seuls à détenir la verité. Or, leur verités sont presque toutes basées sur un idéologie plutôt que sur une analyse froide des faits. Sauf Benoît Hamon.

Voici un exemple: Dans notre société, il y en a qui disent que la soi-disant “révolution” numérique est formidable, et il y en a d’autres (comme votre serviteur) qui disent que c’est un malédiction malsaine car elle remplace les humains par des robots (ou, si tu prefère, le travail individuel par l’automatique et les ‘algorithmes,’ donc l’humain devient plus et plus obsolète en faveur de la robotique). Benoît Hamon, par contre, dit (pour resumer): “Ecoutez, qu’on l’aime ou qu’on se mefie, le numérique est là. La mondialisation — et le perte d’emploi qu’elle implique, comme pour le numerique — est là. Alors comment faire face?”

Comme *une* solution possible, Hamon a proposé le “revenu universel.” *MAIS,* à la différence des autres politiciens — surtout ceux qui lui sont presque tous tombés dessus — il a précisé (je résume encore), “C’est ma verité, mais ce n’est pas moi qui ai le monopole de la vérité. On peut discuter.”

Donc, pour moi, la question n’est pas, “Est-ce que le revenu universel vas nous sauver” ni non plus, “Mais comment on va payer pour ça?” L’important c’est plutôt dans le fait que Benoît Hamon a posé la question: “Le numérique et le mondialisation sont là. Il y a des gens qui souffrent au cause de ça. Est-ce qu’il y a un moyen d’améliorer leur souffrance? Voila une idée. Est-ce que vous en avez une autre?”