The Center Georges Pompidou offers a great retrospective of a major photographer Walker Evans (1903-1975) who spent most of his life as a photographer interested in the vernacular, in everyday life, in urban banality. He examined the American soul through its roads, advertisements, ordinary buildings, cars, pedestrians, and so on. It has marked generations of photographers.And at the end of the exhibition, a splendid text that questions less our look than the pleasure to look and evokes the spring of the artist.In this malicious parallel between church and museum, a question and then an affirmation come to mind: “What did you go to see in the desert? ”
Matthew 11: 7-9. As they were going away, Jesus began to say to the crowd about John, “What have you gone to see in the wilderness?” A reed stirred by the wind? But what did you go to see? A man dressed in precious clothes? Behold, those who wear precious garments are in the houses of kings. What have you gone to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet”
Can we establish a parallel between the prophet and the artist?
Here’s a video I pieced together featuring Cabrel’s excellent French cover of Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” Pictured are Linda and I at the 70 AD Roman amphitheatre in Nîmes where we saw Cabrel in concert on 7/22/2016.
Also, there’s lovely Linda kayaking in Ilse Sur La Sorgue, and dancing in a bike taxi while being pedalled through Paris.
I went to really great exhibition on Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation at Paris’ Pompidou Musee a few days ago. I was pretty nuts about The Beats when I was in my twenties, reading Kerouac’s “On The Road,”Ann Charter’s great biography on Kerouac, Dennis McNally’s excellent “Desolate Angel,” Burroughs, Ginsberg, Snyder, McClure – all of it.
I hadn’t visited these old friends for quite some time, so this experience really took me to a place I’d nearly forgotten, but such animportant influence on who I’ve become.
“Everything belongs to me because I’m poor,” read the projected type on the first wall of the exhibit. Was that a quote from Kerouac or St. Francis?
The music playing from different sources along the exhibit was appropriately Bop (Dexter Gorden, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie.) Kerouac was crazy about jazz and hated the stereotyped media portrayal of the bearded beatnik with “folk” guitar and bongos strapped to their backs.
Here’s a video from jazz singer Mark Murphy singing “Parker’s Mood” that includes a piece from Kerouac’s “On The Road” about the first time he heard Charlie Parker play. Fantastic!
Kerouac was very proud of his French Canadian Catholic heritage, and would still speak French when in the presence of his Memere, well after he became the famed, often vilified author. The exhibition had a really cool film of Jack interviewed for French television, with Jack proudly performing his talents as train conductor with a brakeman’s lantern.
There was a display the the teletype paper upon which Kerouac typed the entire manuscript of “On The Road”; wall projections of the cult film “Pull My Daisy” narrated by Jack; clips from Dylan’s film “Renaldo and Clara;” another film clip with Dylan and Ginsberg at a grave site in France (Baudelaire or Rimbaud?) Dylan says, “I want to be buried in an unmarked grave.” “No you don’t,” I thought.
I loved the entire Beat Generation exhibit – absolutely awesome. There was also a second exhibit on Paul Klee, as well as sections dedicated to Picasso, Marc Chagal, and others. I’ll be sure to post pictures of these later.
“So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty” – Kerouac/On the Road