Dear fellow Babblers,
Every few weeks I spend three days in Paris to dream. I come to Paris to dream about dreams, to dream of dreams of dreams. In Paris dreams and art are one. Dreams and art are created on off the other and it’s this coexistence between the two that brings me back to Paris, making it harder and harder for me to leave again each time. I often come to Paris and walk, observe and photograph moments, daily life and the art of the city, becoming a part of my own art. Ever since I’ve moved to France I’ve become increasingly fascinated with the art that I’ve discovered living within all the big touristy sites of Paris, but also even within it’s garbage piles. This post I’m writing off a stream of consciousness to share with all of you my fleeting and lasting impressions of Paris and how I’ve managed to capture the artistic capital of the world behind a lens.
A walk about Paris is a walk to remember. Paris, it’s cobblestoned streets, sidewalk cafes, sunlit Seine – once you see it, it becomes a part of you. It’s the only place in the world where trash, a park bench, the underground metro can be considered an art. From it’s very beginnings Paris has attracted painters, writers, romantics from all over the world. All of those novelists writing the Paris of their time – Hugo, Balzac, Zola. The bourgeois painters of the Parisian nineteenth century who subserved the classic figures, aiming instead towards the fleeting moment- Monet, Renoir, Degas. The artists interested in taking the impressionist ideal a step further through methods such as pointillism and abstraction – Cezanne, Seurat, Gaugin. Those artists flocking to Paris for inspiration and hope from neighboring countries – Van Gogh and Picasso. To the lost generation of writers returning home to America after World War I, disenchanted and hopeful for a new definition to their writing, discovering it across sea in Paris – Stein, Hemingway, Fitzgerald.
In Paris nothing is or ever was simple. People starve, steal suffer and its all still considered an art. History has proven such, from Claude’s mental decline in Zola‘s L’Oeuvre to the crippled veteran trotting away from us in Manet‘s ‘The Rue Mosnier With Flags‘. Stepping through Paris today is an awakening of the senses. The traveler, the Parisian inhabitant, the student wakes up to Paris, breathes in it’s silence and feels its wonder and magic. The vendors set up their carts of melons and fresh figs at 4 am, the beggars wander through the Gard du Nord believing that today is the day their fortune will change, the musician sit on the steps of the Sacre Coeur with faith that the tourists will offer them more than a video of them on Instagram.
Every few weeks I take a train from Joigny to Paris. For three days I wander like one of the Parisian flaneurs of Monet’s time with no real direction, location or watch to time me. I photograph the streets, people, sky. The Parisian artists of before me, with their rendering of basically everything subject for a paint stroke or a poetic phrase inspired me to take up photography to snapshot all of these hidden moments behind a lens. I have been traveling to different areas around Ile de France in search of creating Paris itself as a subject. I have also went to specifically historical places such as Auvers-sur-Oise, the site of Van Gogh‘s death in search of understanding what about this small town was it that gripped the troubled artist. The idea of the fleeting moment, the unprepared pose, the sun rising or the rain crashing behind the Seine – in the footsteps of Parisian artists before me – brings my photography to life. I walk throughout empty and crowded streets of the city in search of the little things that people don’t often pay attention too. But I also take in the beauty that all the tourists flock to Paris for. I occasion museums, galleries and admire the street art before city workers come to paint over it. In these moments all of Paris belongs to me the way I belong to the pictures in my camera. Everything is magically beautiful and nothing hurts. I’ve been practicing this new sort of photography for about 6 months now, with writers and artists serving as my inspiration that moments, time and it’s disappearance ran all be rendered a part of art, just so as long as it shakes and changes the world kindly.
Paris Behind a Lens is what I call this gallery that I have put together in the past months. With my areas of interest being in nineteenth and twentieth century artists like Monet and Van Gogh I have chosen to superimpose the ideals they follow on their tableau on my own medium. In this series I am mainly focusing on sunlight and the idea of impressions and capturing it’s movement. However by choosing photography over paint, representing moments seems to be already done without saying. As a result, angle and movement becomes equally important in my shots. I have accumulated several shots of the same scene such as the Eiffel Tower and views from Montmartre under different light, angle and weather conditions, but all the while with Impressionism and it’s successors in mind.
(All shots above are taken from my Canon G9X model II camera)
Feel free to comment below or send me an email if you’re interested in any of my shots of Paris, or have an questions, comments, or recommendations related to the Parisian art world.