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‘Casablanca’ piano auctioned for $600,000, less than expected – UPI.com

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

This screenshot shows Sydney Greenstreet and H...

NEW YORK, Dec. 15 (UPI) — A piano briefly seen in 1942’s “Casablanca” sold at auction for $602,500, about half of the highest estimates for the item, New York’s Sotheby’s said.

The winning bidder, whose name was not reported, bid $500,000 on the item Friday, though commissions added $102,000 to the total, The New York Times reported. Sotheby’s had estimated the piano would sell for between $800,000 and $1.2 million.

The piano was one of two used in “Casablanca,” and was small, with 58 keys, 30 fewer than a conventional piano.

It was used in a flashback scene at a Paris cafe named “La Belle Aurore.” The piano was on camera for 1 minute and 10 seconds, and actor Dooley Wilson, who played Sam in the classic film, mimicked playing it while singing in the film, the Times reported.

Sotheby’s last auctioned the piano in 1988 for $155,000, the second-highest price for Hollywood memorabilia at the time, the newspaper said.

via ‘Casablanca’ piano auctioned for $600,000, less than expected – UPI.com.

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France: ‘Astounding’ Louvre branch to open in Lens – Telegraph

December 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Français : Maison du projet du Louvre-Lens, Le...

Until right now, you went to Lens in northern France for second-division football and slag heaps and other fine mining memories. You might also have used it as a base from which to see Great War battlefields. What you didn’t get much of was world-class culture. As you wouldn’t in Wigan, so you didn’t in Lens. The depressed former coal town apparently had problems beyond the reach of Raphael.

Which is precisely why, in a splendid burst of reverse thinking, the place is about to open an art gallery of astounding breadth and brio, containing works from across the history of human creativity. In the year’s major French cultural initiative, the Louvre has broken out of Paris to establish its first provincial base on a disused colliery site hemmed in by miners’ housing estates.

President François Hollande inaugurates the Louvre-Lens next Tuesday. It opens properly to the public on December 12. It is no mean branch office. The €150  million (£121m) building is of deceptive simplicity, a succession of four connected rectangles, and a square, all in aluminium and lots of glass. It has been kept long and low – a single storey – to avoid crushing locals with worthiness. The Japanese architects want the neighbours to come in, not stay stuck outside, awestruck. It could be a big leisure centre – which, in a sense, it is.

via France: ‘Astounding’ Louvre branch to open in Lens – Telegraph.

Ropac Gallery Vies Gagosian With Cymbals, Live Horse – Bloomberg

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

“Open the door and leave it like that,” Thaddaeus Ropac tells one of his 60 employees as he crosses the courtyard of his new gallery on the outskirts of Paris.

The Austrian-born dealer has just inaugurated the French capital’s biggest commercial contemporary-art space. He hopes to encourage more visitors to follow him inside, now that the French government has rejected a proposal to include artworks in calculating wealth tax.

Super-size galleries in New York and London are being followed by Ropac’s mega-space, where he is showing works by the German artists Anselm Kiefer and the late Joseph Beuys. Larry Gagosian has also just opened a new space on Paris’s northern rim with a Kiefer show, in a week when galleries at the Fiac fair have been vying for the attention of choosy buyers.

“I was surprised Gagosian decided to open with Kiefer,” says Ropac, who had been the first to approach the French-based artist 18 months ago. “Actually, it turns out Paris has profited from all the attention. I’m quite relaxed about it now.”

Ropac, 52, has converted a former boiler factory at Pantin — a site on Paris’s eastern rim reachable by Metro — into a 50,000 square-foot (4,645 square meter) complex. Gagosian has chosen an old 17,760 square-foot industrial building in the north of the city at the private-jet airport of Le Bourget.

Exodus Fears

France’s Socialist government is planning a 75 percent tax band on all income of more than 1 million euros ($1.3 million). The country’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, is seeking dual Belgian citizenship.

via Ropac Gallery Vies Gagosian With Cymbals, Live Horse – Bloomberg.

Louvre, Versailles Palace weigh in on French art tax row | Reuters

October 18, 2012 Leave a comment
The Palace of Versailles in 1722 Français : Le...Reuters – Top Paris art galleries and the Palace of Versailles have weighed in against an unpopular push to extend wealth tax to art, complaining in a letter to the government that such a move could drive historic collections out of France.

The daily Liberation printed an excerpt from a letter it said was signed by the heads of the Louvre, Versailles, the Musee d’Orsay, the Pompidou Centre and others and sent to the culture minister and President Francois Hollande, saying the tax would crush the art world.

“There’s a risk that France will contribute to the disappearance of historic collections that have been passed down through the generations,” Liberation quoted the letter, written on Friday and also signed by several city mayors, as saying.

Spokespeople for the various art galleries could not be reached for comment.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault appeared to sound the death knell on Tuesday for the push for art works worth over 50,000 euros $64,700 to be included in assets used to calculate a person’s fortune, saying the Socialist government opposed it.

“Artworks will not be included in the calculation of wealth tax. That’s the government’s position,” he told Europe 1 radio.

Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac cautioned that the proposal was not buried yet.

“We will have a frank discussion with the Socialist group. It is possible for a government to be beaten by its parliamentary majority,” he told France Inter radio.

Currently, only assets like real estate or cash savings count towards wealth tax. Net assets of more than 1.3 million euros are taxed at 0.25 percent on top of income tax, and the rate doubles to 0.5 percent for assets above 3 million euros.

via Louvre, Versailles Palace weigh in on French art tax row | Reuters.

Bubbledogs Mix Champagne With British Bangers in London – Bloomberg

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

A bore at the next table in a Paris brasserie once ruined my dinner by insisting that I was wrong to accompany my food with Champagne, which was an aperitif.

This gastronomical gendarme was drunk, which might explain it.

I myself, sober though I was, wondered about the lineup of Champagne and hot dogs at the new London restaurant Bubbledogs.

Any doubts were misplaced. I’m more excited by Bubbledogs than any new London restaurant I’ve tried since Dabbous, where you can wait months for a table. The hot dogs are great, the Champagnes are varied and inexpensive, and the service is first- class.

To use a phrase I dislike, what’s not to like?

There’s a choice of about a dozen hot dogs, each of which is available as beef, pork or vegetarian. For the purist, there’s the Naked Dog, at 6 pounds ($9.75). The top price is 8 pounds for the BLT, which comes with caramelized lettuce and truffle mayo. There are no starters and no desserts.

(Crif Dogs, in New York, helped inspire Bubbledogs.)

Sides are restricted to tots (potato croquettes), sweet- potato fries and coleslaw. That’s it. I can’t think why anyone would want more choice in a hot-dog restaurant. If anything, I’d like things simpler: no sides and a single price.

Those who shrug that it’s hard to get hot dogs wrong should eat their words. Simplicity is complex: You might get away with a mistake in an elaborate fine-dining meal, but there is nowhere to hide with a sausage and a bread roll.

via Bubbledogs Mix Champagne With British Bangers in London – Bloomberg.

Gallic charm brings slice of Paris to Dublin – Food & Drink, Lifestyle – Independent.ie

October 2, 2012 1 comment

Cover of "La Bicyclette"

Whenever life is beautiful, I like to add a soupcon of French 1960s pop to the equation. It’s my way of heightening the experience, like adding a Technicolour dropper to your black-and-white life.

It can transform the dullest experience. A touch of Yves Montand‘s La Bicyclette is enough to morph your daily commute into a carefree jaunt on a merry double-decker bus where everyone suppresses indulgent smiles. When life is a little flat, Brigitte Bardot‘s Bubblegum is the perfectly wonky soundtrack to raise a wry smile. And Edith Piaf‘s Sous Le Ciel De Paris, well, that is for when life needs to be just a little bit more bearable. It’s just one of those things, like Madeleines, perhaps.

There is simply never a situation, I feel, that cannot be vastly improved by the addition of French accordion and French cake. Okay, I realise I’m veering dangerously close to another French lady who liked her cake a bit too much, and things didn’t end well for her, so, moving swiftly on …

What I’m trying to say is I am a Francophile. I love France — the art, the food, the way of life, the weather, the beautiful cities.

My idea of a perfect day is running around Paris until I fall down from exhaustion (or from too much Kir pêche), but that happens way less often than I would like.

Surprisingly, good authentic French restaurants are thinner on the ground in Ireland than you might expect and the best ones don’t tend to shout about themselves.

Take Les Freres Jacques on Dublin’s Dame Street. This restaurant has been quietly here since 1986 (no mean feat in itself) and most people pass by its unassuming window without even noticing it (its doorway is off-street, around the side of the Olympia).

via Gallic charm brings slice of Paris to Dublin – Food & Drink, Lifestyle – Independent.ie.

Paris plane crash spurs cultural growth in Atlanta – Yahoo! News

Montage of Atlanta images. From top to bottom ...ATLANTA (AP) — Fifty years ago, a group of 106 influential cultural and civic leaders from Atlanta traveled to Europe to visit famous museums and demonstrate the ascendant southern city’s commitment to culture.

The Atlanta area’s population in 1962 had recently hit a million people, but political and business leaders worried the growth wouldn’t continue if the city didn’t improve its museums and venues for theater and music. The city’s cultural development would be altered forever by the trip, but in ways that had to do more with its tragic end.

The group was on its way home June 3 when its chartered Air France plane crashed on takeoff at Orly Field in Paris, killing all but two flight attendants. It had been the worst single plane crash to date.

“The community was just in shock,” said Joe Bankoff, outgoing president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. “I mean, to lose over 100 people in a moment was just unbelievable. But to lose such a cross section of Atlanta was particularly important.”

On the flight were artists, company leaders, the first woman elected to the city’s school board and other leaders. Among the sites on their packed agenda were the Louvre in Paris, the Coliseum in Rome and London Bridge.

Out of the city’s grief grew a sense that something needed to be done to memorialize them, to improve on its tiny art museum in an old house and struggling art school.

“These people were heads of companies in Atlanta. They were the wives who did a lot of the volunteer work at the art association,” said Susan Lowance, who had traveled with the group but had decided to stay in Europe longer to visit friends.

She believes the development of the arts center is a fitting tribute to her friends.

“These were people who had a stake in what was going to happen, and what happened was wonderful,” Lowance said.

Atlanta is now home to a world-class art museum that has collaborated with the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Louvre, a Grammy-winning symphony orchestra and other top-notch cultural institutions.

via Paris plane crash spurs cultural growth in Atlanta – Yahoo! News.

Strange Random Culture Quote:

Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future. – Albert Camus

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