1. Charlie Hebdo, Before the Massacre:
In French class this week we discussed the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and our teacher, Rachel, had a copy of the latest issue of the satirical magazine for us to read. It’s hard enough to find the words in English to describe the atrocity of the shootings and the anguish that followed, let alone in French. But we tried, even if as much I could say was, “C’est insupportable, que la liberté d’expression a été attaqué.” Rachel showed us this New York Times Op-Doc of the Charlie Hebdo headquarters during a production meeting in 2006. To say it was difficult to see the cartoonists and editors drawing, discussing, and choosing a cover illustration featuring the prophet Muhammed, unaware of the fate that would befall them and their beloved magazine both five years later, when their offices were firebombed, as well as two weeks ago, would be to cheapen the very acute sense of loss. “We laugh at everything. This is what we do. No subject is off-limits…We are lucky. France is a paradise,” Georges Wolinski says in the video.
2. An Infographic showing the age famous authors published their first book:
According to this wildly fascinating infographic, I’m either a few years late at publishing my first novel (Kerouac was 21!) or I have plenty of time ahead of me (Jane Austen published “Sense and Sensibility” at 37!). Also interesting, F. Scott Fitzgerald only published four books in his lifetime (and one posthumously) while Nora Roberts has published over 200, giving stock to the age-old “Quality over quantity” adage.
3. “A Museum in England Is Hiding a Forgery Among Its Masterpieces”
In a move that is sure to spark a conversation about how we value and valuate art, the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London is placing a £120 forgery amongst its collection of Rubens, Rembrandt, and Poussin, and leaving it up to visitors to solve the mystery. Part of an exhibition titled, “Made in China: A Doug Fishbone Project,” set to open in February, Fishbone commissioned a replica from a Chinese company that exists solely to churn out copies of great works. He says hanging the replica in the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery “gives our [replica] some provenance, and it’s interesting to see if that changes its value.” While the artist is quick to say this is not a cheap “spot the fake” stunt, the museum might sell “I Failed to Spot the Replica” t-shirts. Because as my father always said, every good cultural experience must end in a retail experience.
Thanks to Samantha for the link!
4. “Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au bon Dieu?” (“What did we do to God?”)
Also from French class, the preview for this movie had us in (much-needed) hysterics. A stuffy, not-so-mildly racist French couple with four daughters and four “undesirable” sons-in-law. Deemed too politically incorrect for the US by some film critics, the movie doesn’t make fun of the interracial marriages, but rather makes fun of the conservative, “old French” parents, and uses humor to have a more serious discourse on an “I’m not racist, but…” culture in France. At least, that’s what I think Rachel was saying.
5. Charles Marville, the Photographer of Paris:
For Christmas, Jamal bought me the Metropolitan Museum of Art catalog from last year’s exhibition of Charles Marville’s photography of Paris. I didn’t get to see the show when it was at the Met or the National Gallery in DC, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting getting my hands on a copy of the exhibition catalog. It was backordered until after the new year, and it just arrived this week. I have been pouring over it nightly since. The book is a behemoth, at over 250 pages and almost 5lbs, with hundreds of Marville’s photographs of Paris in the mid-1800s reprinted with striking clarity. I can’t tell you how incredible it is to see the wide avenues, some still under construction, completely empty, void of people and carriages. It is an absolute gem.