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Related: France - Baron Haussmann - Paris, May 1968 revolt - Paris Commune - Centre Pompidou - Notre Dame cathedral - La Vie Parisienne - Montmartre - city

Key texts of Parisian history: The Arcades Project (1927 - 1940)

Over the past hundred years, the Moulin Rouge has remained a popular tourist destination for many visitors each year.

More than a million people took the elevator to the top of the Eiffel tower when it was opened at the 1889 Exposition Universelle. The Eiffel Tower, the tallest building in the world at the time, was France's answer to the Crystal Palace of the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Paris is the capital of France. It is a leading global cultural center and is renowned for its defining neo-classical architecture as well as its unrivaled influence in fashion and the arts. Nicknamed "the City of Light" or "Gay Paree" since the 19th century, Paris has a reputation as a "romantic" city.

Since the 1860s to the 1940s, Paris has been a remarkable crucible of creativity. The aesthetic debates of that decade were central to the formal direction modern painting, literature, and music would take. Walter Benjamin called Paris "the capital of the 19th century".

Baron Haussmann's massive renovation of the city created amazing perspectives and broad boulevards, but also replaced poorer neighborhoods and created fast routes to move troops through the city to quell unrest. Yet there was also a second Paris at the limits of Haussmann's city on the hill of Montmartre with her windmills, cabarets and vineyards. Café culture, cabarets, arcades (19th century covered malls), anarchism, the mixing of classes, the radicalization of art and artistic movements caused by the academic salon system, a boisterous willingness to shock… all this made for a stunning vibrancy.

Although briefly challenged during the early 20th century by Weimar Berlin, Paris remained the cultural capital of the western world until WWII. It exercised a magnetic attraction upon several generations of artists and intellectuals, large numbers of whom migrated to the French capital from all over the world.

After World War II, Paris lost its position as cultural capital of the world to New York, which became the focal point of new artistic movements. [May 2006]

Modern art originated in Paris

Modern art was introduced to America during World War I when a number of the artists in the Montmartre and Montparnasse Quarters of Paris, France fled the War. Francis Picabia (1879–1953), was responsible for bringing Modern Art to New York City. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_art [Aug 2004]

Discotheque [...]

The word discotheque stands for record library. Discotheques were the first places where recordings were played instead of live bands, they were clandestine nightclubs in Paris during WWII where recordings of American jazz artists were played.

Discotheques originated in occupied Paris during the Second World War. The Nazis banned jazz and closed many of the dance clubs, breaking up jazz groups and driving fans into illicit cellars to listen to recorded music. One of these venues - on the rue Huchette - called itself La Discothèque. Then Paul Pacine opened the Whiskey a Go-Go, where dancers would hit the floor accompanied by records played by disc jockeys on a phonograph. Pacine went on to open other clubs in Europe, while in Paris Chez Régine opened in 1960, catering to the self-styled beautiful people. The upmarket thrills of Régine's enjoyed by the American jet-set in turn inspired New York's Le Club, although it didn't last long, closing soon after a new venue in New York took off in 1961: the Peppermint Lounge. --Dave Haslam, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v22/n01/hasl02_.html [LRB | Vol. 22 No. 1 dated 6 January 2000 | Dave Haslam]

Interwar subcultures

The inter-war years were another period of consolidated growth for Paris's homosexual subcultures. Though not as spectacularly visible as those of Weimar Berlin, the other major European center of glbtq life of the time, Paris of the 1920s and 1930s offered a range of venues and social pleasures for gay men, lesbians, and their friends. --http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/paris.html [Aug 2004]

Jazz in Paris

The French kept jazz alive during the war by listening to New Orleans and swing-era music on records and inventing the discotheque as an underground place to do so. After the war many French fans, who never developed a taste for more progressive jazz, opened clubs around the country featuring New Orleans music. And the Americans returned in force, some to live for a while, others to stay forever.

Perhaps because the French have a knack for maintaining traditions, they still support quite a few jazz clubs that opened forty or fifty years ago. Caveau de la Huchette, at 5 rue de la Huchette, a main street in the Latin Quarter, has survived since 1946, un demi-siècle, or a half-century, as its advertisements boast. Lionel Hampton and Art Blakey played there, and the club still celebrates the fact that it was once the scene of a huge jam session led by Sidney Bechet, a national hero in France. Caveau de la Huchette belongs to Dany Doriz, a vibes player who also owns the Slow Club, at 130 rue de Rivoli. His are the two oldest surviving clubs in the city. Both present blues, swing, and New Orleans music and cater to people who want to dance.--http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/2000/2/2000_2_42.shtml

The Secret Paris of the '30s (2001) - Brassai, Richard Miller

The Secret Paris of the '30s (2001) - Brassai, Richard Miller [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"During my first years in Paris I lived at night, going to bed at sunrise, getting up at sunset, wandering about the city from Montparnasse to Montmartre. And even though I had always ignored and disliked photography before, I was inspired to become a photographer by my desire to translate all the things that enchanted me in the nocturnal Paris I was experiencing." --Book Description

Alone, or in the company of friends, Brassaï discovered and recorded the forbidden Paris of the 1930s, its brothels, whores, pimps, opium dens, and transvestite cafés—the sordid yet fascinating bas-monde where high society mingled with the underworld. The Secret Paris of the '30s is one of the most remarkable photographic memoirs ever published: like his predecessor Toulouse-Lautrec, Brassaï chose to portray a hidden and daring subject matter. His photographs reveal a milieu previously known only through books such as the novels of Henry Miller (a frequent companion of Brassaï's nocturnal rambles), the seamy, grimy, yet infinitely exciting reality that tourists still think of when they seek "Paris by night." These unique pictures are accompanied by an immensely interesting text in which Brassaï reminisces and describes the extraordinary conditions under which he took his photographs. 150 b/w photographs.

Paris, Capital of Modernity (2003) David Harvey

Paris, Capital of Modernity (2003) David Harvey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Drawing on essays written over the last 30 years, Harvey brings one of the most fascinating and confounding periods of French-or for that matter, European-history into sharp relief. He asserts that two conceptions of modernity were nurtured in Paris in the years after the First Empire-one bourgeois, and the other founded on the idea of the "social republic" geared toward benefiting all classes of citizens. Harvey traces these conflicting movements over the decades leading up to the Revolution of 1848 and charts their reverberations through the final days of the Paris Commune. The book is richly illustrated with over a hundred period photographs and cartoons by Daumier and others, which serve to reinforce the notion of Paris as a city of contrasts in a period of profound change. And Harvey is as comfortable and adept at quoting pertinent passages from the romantic novelists as he is offering detailed economic analyses of real estate and labor market dynamics. By making use of primary sources from diverse disciplines, he offers a thorough examination of the period: he explores, for instance, the role of women and class strictures and the consequences of urban planning and public transportation. The worst that can be said of this exhaustive investigation into the complicated and turbulent era of the Second Empire is that Harvey presupposes an intermediate knowledge of many of the important actors and events. As he weaves the humanities, philosophy, economics and sociology into a detailed tapestry, the author leaves remedial explanations of Parisian and French social movements to the authors listed in a well-annotated bibliography. This is not a problem in and of itself, but readers expecting a breezy history of the "City of Lights" may find themselves overwhelmed by the complexity and depth of this book. --Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Collecting David Harvey's finest work on Paris during the second empire, Paris, Capital of Modernity offers brilliant insights ranging from the birth of consumerist spectacle on the Parisian boulevards, the creative visions of Balzac, Baudelaire and Zola, and the reactionary cultural politics of the bombastic Sacre Couer. The book is heavily illustrated and includes a number drawings, portraits and cartoons by Daumier, one of the greatest political caricaturists of the nineteenth century.--Product Description, Amazon.com

The Painting of Modern Life, Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers - Timothy J. Clark

The Painting of Modern Life - Timothy J. Clark [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Paris of the 1860s and 1870s was supposedly a brand-new city, equipped with boulevards, cafés, parks, and suburban pleasure grounds--the birthplace of those habits of commerce and leisure that constitute "modern life." Questioning those who view Impressionism solely in terms of artistic technique, T. J. Clark describes the painting of Manet, Degas, Seurat, and others as an attempt to give form to that modernity and seek out its typical representatives--be they bar-maids, boaters, prostitutes, sightseers, or petits bourgeois lunching on the grass. The central question of The Painting of Modern Life is this: did modern painting as it came into being celebrate the consumer-oriented culture of the Paris of Napoleon III, or open it to critical scrutiny? The revised edition of this classic book includes a new preface by the author. --Book Description via Amazon.com

Not surprisingly, The Painting of Modern of Life has been negatively "reviewed" by every major writer (except Greil Marcus) who has devoted more than a paragraph to it. The manner in which The New York Times responded to it may be paradigmatic: it chose to publish two "reviews" of Clark's book, one devoted to Clark's "politics" and one devoted to his "aesthetics," precisely because his book is an attempt to supercede the contradiction between politics and aesthetics. In its "review" of the "politics" of The Painting of Modern Life, the NYT claimed that "ultimately [Clark] remains weighed down by the chains of ideology"; in its "review" of the book's "aesthetics," it claimed that Clark's book is "seriously flawed" in its lack of attention to the Impressionist painters' concern with "light and color." One isn't sure which is the more preposterous: the ridiculous content of the respective "reviews," or their spectacular separation from each other. --http://www.notbored.org/manet.html [Jul 2004]

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