Exactly one year ago this week, I was on my way to Paris. We flew out on Thursday and arrived on Friday, and as the plane touched down on French soil I burst into tears. I had worked myself up so much for that trip, and though it had only been nine or ten months since my last trip to Paris, I was hungry for the city, the energy, the language, the food in ways that were overwhelming. Can you say ‘dramatique‘?
However much of a cliché it might be, my love for Paris is unquantifiable and all-consuming (exhibit A: my entire blog). It was passed onto me genetically, and though I might have fought it when I was an angsty teenager, if you know me at all you know that “Francophile” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
So imagine my surprise and heart-bursting joy on that trip last March, on the day we arrived no less, when my boyfriend went down on one knee in the gardens of the Musée Rodin, forever tying us together and to Paris.
Sure, I had to break up with Gary Oldman once we got home (but I still see him sometimes on the side!), but I’d say that was a small price to pay for the perfect engagement. We still have some wedding planning to do, but we took last year just to enjoy being engaged without the pressure of picking table linens and spending all of our money. All of those details are being sorted out now, don’t you worry, and I promise to share some more soon.
I can’t believe it was a year ago! Where does the time go? Surely I’m overdue for another trip to Paris, right? A year is just too long.
On one hand, I’m excited to share another post in this series (my favorite series, fueling the macabre fascination I have with art heists), but on the other, the simple fact that I have another art heist to share with you means that there was another art heist. Aside from being horribly depressing and scary (I was just at the museum on Sunday, and my heart sunk at the thought of blank walls where masterpieces should be), this particular heist is especially puzzling in its chronology.
Sometime last month, eleven paintings by Cuban painters turned up for sale at an art gallery in Miami. Not suspicious on its own, but art dealer Ramon Cernuda, who purchased a painting by Eduardo Abela (“Carnaval Infantil”, above) was astute enough to realize it had come from Cuba’s National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, and, he surmised correctly, likely not legally. He contacted the museum and turned the painting over to the FBI. It wasn’t until late last week that the museum confirmed indeed roughly 100 works of art had been stolen from storage, “knifed out of their frames in a warehouse. The frames were re-stacked in a way that the canvases’ absence wasn’t readily noticed.” No signs of forced entry were discovered.
Not only did the museum not announce the heist had occurred at all until after the paintings were discovered elsewhere (a detail usually desirable in other art heist cases, where recovery of stolen works is rare), they have yet to release a full list of what exactly is missing. However, in a statement released by the Cuban National Council of Cultural Patrimony, it is believed that “most of the stolen works are from the period called Arte Cubano and are mostly pieces by Leopoldo Romañach.” Oddly, the FBI cannot ”confirm or deny the existence of an investigation,” though Cernuda has stated The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation “has begun grand jury proceedings in the case.”
Julian Radcliffe, superhero in the recovery of stolen art and chairman of the Art Loss Register, has offered to help track down the remaining missing works. The Art Loss Register has successfully recovered almost 2,000 pieces of stolen artwork since 1991 (what I wouldn’t give to work there!). The problem, Radcliffe, said, is that Cuba may be sensitive about the entire scandal, because “some missing museum items in the past included works expropriated from families that went into exile after the 1959 revolution.”
My mom’s birthday was Saturday, and on Sunday morning we met at (where else?) the art museum to have a fancy, champagne filled brunch (there were macarons! and eggs benedict! and a cheese board! and plenty of gossip!) and then wander our favorite galleries (European art, 1850-1900). In her words, in order of artist importance, “There’s Renoir, then Monet, and then blahbideeblahbideeblah.” I got her to relent a bit (Cassatt and Degas and Cezanne and Van Gogh!) when pressed, but she wasn’t budging on anything post-1920 which explains a lot about me. We happened to wander into the contemporary American art wing only to scramble for an exit like we’d been lit on fire upon discovering Duchamp’s toilet statue (I don’t even know, you guys), escaping back to the safety of the Impressionists.
Art, top to bottom: ‘Garden of Armida’ Wallpaper, Édouard Muller; ‘Under the Pines, Evening’, Claude Monet (and close-up); ‘The Large Washerwoman,’ Pierre-Auguste Renoir; ‘Pythian Sibyl’ , Marcello; ‘The Moorish Chief’, Eduard Charlemont; ‘Still Life with Flowers and Fruit’, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (close-up).
I’d forgotten how much fun these are, but last week put me back in the swing of things.
1. The nonstop LOLs this video brought me:
Some hilarious wizard dubbed an Evgeni Plushenko ice skating performance from the mid-90s with Ginuwine’s R&B bump-and-grind anthem “Pony,” and while it might seem random, the result is superb. Plushenko’s original routine somehow, magically, lines up perfectly with the song, and if you can make it to 2:55 when his pants come off (seriously!) without tears rolling down your face, you must have a more mature sense of humor. Thankfully, I do not, and I therefore found this hysterical and much more preferable to the actual ice skating we saw at the Olympics.
No explanation necessary. (!!!!)
3. My new bag, in preparation and expectation of spring:
I know, color! A few weeks ago I undertook an exhaustive search, employing all of my Internet Squirreling skills, to find The Perfect Spring Bag. Requirements: red or poppy, crossbody, big enough to hold my camera, zipper closure, under $300. You guys, it was a doozy, full of drama (I bought a bag I thought was The One, only to find out it wasn’t big enough, and then the company tried to screw me on their return policy, oy) but has a happy ending: I happened to wander into Macy’s when they were having a Coach sale, and the rest, as they say, is history. For just a little more than half my original budget thanks to the sale, this beauty met all of my requirements and then some. I’m in lurve.
4. This wonderfully weird Google Maps screencap:
I spend a large amount of my time “wandering” around Paris in Google Maps, as you know by now. Whatever, I miss Paris, it’s cheaper than a flight, and if I lean really close to the computer screen I can almost delude myself into believing for a moment that I’m there. So imagine my shock during a leisurely “stroll” through Parc Monceau when I came across a pair of legs, running on their own accord. Legs! What a delightfully awful Photoshop job, Google! I rire‘d so hard I thought I would need my inhaler. It’s the little things.
5. This stunning book-shaped lamp:
I can’t even! Designer Max Gunawan’s Lumio Book Lamp looks like a normal hardcover book when closed, but fans open and becomes an LED nightlight. “The strong neodymium magnets embedded within its covers allow this transformable light to be expanded 180 degrees to its fullest brightness, or mounted upon any magnetic surface.” It’s powered by a rechargeable battery, good for up to eight hours at a time, which is plenty of time for reading in bed before falling asleep (just make sure you close both books!). Currently backordered, but definitely on my wishlist.
What are you up to this weekend? My mom’s birthday is tomorrow, and we’re going to brunch at the museum on Sunday to celebrate. Tomorrow, unfortunately, is also Jamal’s departure date; he’s going to India (again) and South Africa (again!) for two weeks for work. Boo! In his absence, I plan on eating popcorn for dinner, unabashedly wearing my biggest sweatpants around the house, binging on tv shows, and missing him terribly.
Alternate title: “Things Erin Needs.” Alternate Title: “When is the Next Holiday?” Alternate Title: “Apologies to My Bank Account.”
If, like me, you’re an unabashed Francophile (je parle français presque couramment ces jours!) and can’t resist the siren call of La Belle France, you’re left aching for all things Parisian in between trips to the most beautiful city on earth. Fear not! There are always ways to add a little Paree to your life (eating macarons and watching “Amélie” on the sofa, donning a beret, subsisting solely on sex and cigarettes, etc etc), but in case you need help, here are a few things to tide you over:
1. Airport Tag Pillow/ 2. Eiffel Tower Construction Poster / 3. Map Mugs / 4. T-Shirt / 5. Dior Oui ring / 6. Ladurée Caramel au Buerre Salé / 7. Eiffel Tower Scarf / 8. Élysées tray / 9. Voyage Map tray / 10. Paris Sketchbook / 11. Paris Street Style
I’ve coveted that Dior ring for years and am vowing here and now to buy it the next time I’m near a Dior store, price-tag be damned.
Artist and world-traveler Erik Gauger’s series of Paris sketches stopped me in my tracks. Drawn with black pen and filled in with either watercolor and markers, Gauger has perfectly captured both the exquisite details of the city, and my heart (that little green Citroën!). The sketches are undeniably charmant but the highlight for me was getting the chance to see his moleskine notebooks from the trip. I can’t imagine anything more personal than an artists’ sketchbook, so that he included them is such a treat. Even his rough notes are gorgeous; look at the detail on Sacre-Cœur!
It’s been a really, really (really) long time since I did a Friday Five, and to bring it back I thought I’d change up the format a bit. Instead of a round-up of things I want to buy right now, here are five things that are making me happy this week:
1. This Barnes & Noble Classics collection:
Sure, the set costs $1,496, but for 199 paperback volumes of some of the world’s greatest works of literature, no price is too high (and it works out to just around $7 a book). I picked up a collection of T.S. Eliot poems over the weekend from this collection, and I’d forgotten what an incredible value and resource these are; introductions from other authors or literary scholars, end notes, bibliographies, discussion questions. I’ve also read Dracula and Frankenstein in this series.
2. This commercial from the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion:
The CIDI delivered a 33 second (hilarious) rebuttal to Russia’s anti-gay stance. Well played, Canada, well played.
3. These art-inspired socks:
After realizing that 90% of my socks had holes in them, I went to Macy’s and did the most grown-up thing I’ve done in a while: I bought myself new socks. Seriously, for someone whose sock collection to date was furnished entirely by her mother via Christmas presents, this was monumental. Of course, now I have my eye on these adorable art-y socks. The Mona Lisa on your feet-sa! ($8)
4. House of Cards Season 2:
You guys. Are you watching House of Cards? Why aren’t you watching House of Cards? Stop what you’re doing and go binge-watch the entire first and second seasons of this unbelievably evil and amazing show. Go. Right now. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Netflix released all 13 episodes at once, but we’ve been pacing ourselves and just watching one or two a night. I’m simultaneously in love with and terrified of Robin Wright Penn’s character (and her hair, mon dieu).
5. This photo, ”Hotel de Sens, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville”, by Eugene Atget:
One of these days I will do a full post on Eugene Atget’s photography of Paris at the turn of the last century. He was (and remains to be) a huge inspiration, and there are countless photographs I could share, but this one in particular has been on my mind recently. For Christmas, Jamal bought me a beautiful book of Atget’s work that I’ve been pouring over and falling in love with; old Paris, just after the reconstruction under Haussmann, holds such an allure for me. Can you imagine walking along this street as it existed in this photo? (cue: “These people don’t have any antibiotics.”)
Have a wonderful weekend, kiddos. What are you up to?
If yesterday’s apartment was classic Parisian, today’s surely couldn’t be more different. This maison atelier might not have luxe details straight out of a Haussmann sketch, but it is unexpected and charmingly unique. Located in the 14eme arrondissement, south of the city center near Parc Montsouris, this home is over 5100ft² (!!) spread out over five bedrooms, a double-height living room, a private courtyard, and a workshop (fulfulling the ‘atelier’ aspect). Likely because this home is photographed furnished, I’m imagining it’s inhabited by artists or world travelers. Maybe a cultural anthropologist? Gallery owner?
Whoever the owners are, they have impeccable taste; the space is inviting and not stuffy. Can you imagine having dinner in that kitchen, the doors to the garden slightly ajar, a cool night breeze floating in? Honestly, it reminds me of my dad’s apartment/art studio (though this is roughly 10 times the size).
Not that you have to, but if could pick between this home and yesterday’s, which would you choose? If you need help deciding, this might sway you: this home is listed at $8.6 million. Zut alors!
What do you picture when you hear the words “classic Parisian apartment”? Herringbone wood floors, large casement windows, scrolling iron railings, intricate moldings, sun-drenched rooms, fireplaces with built-in mirrors above them, oui? What a dream, to own such an architecturally iconic space. This apartment checks every single one of those boxes:
I’ve left out photos of the updated bathrooms and kitchen, because while they are functional and modern, they clash with the rest of the gorgeous details of the apartment. I simply cannot get over how picture-perfect it is; as if someone drew from scratch what they thought a classic Haussmann apartment should look like. This is real! We could live there! Quick, who has $5.25 million?? I don’t think I would even furnish it (I couldn’t afford to!) but rather spend my time running back and forth between all the rooms squealing in delight like a child on Christmas.
I’m not usually overly personal on here, but I couldn’t let to today pass without wishing a very happy Valentine’s Day to Jamal. Thank you for being the best travel companion, for knowing just what to say when I’m lost in an anxiety spiral, for always volunteering to take Fitz out in the rain, for supporting me always in all ways, and for being funny even (especially) when you don’t think you are. I love you!
“You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.”
Er, that quote is kind of romantic, right? Happy Valentine’s Day, kiddos. Je vous adore.