Vernissage: A Parisian Retrospective

Yesterday evening, a few friends and I attended the opening of a special new exhibit at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College. The exhibit is titled, “Paris Night and Day: Photography Between the Wars,” and it features photographs from the age of the daguerrotype onward (1918-1939).

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An excerpt from the museum website:

Between 1918 and 1939, Paris drew a diverse international community of artists and writers who nourished each other’s creativity to produce one of the richest cultural moments of the twentieth century. Photographers were among them, and in a city where social and artistic hierarchies had been unsettled by the war they played a central role in recording and defining a new vision of modern life. Representing the City of Light at its most romantic and its most sinister, the images in Paris Night & Day: Photography between the Wars show how photographers like Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Ilse Bing, André Kertész, Bill Brandt, Lisette Model, Dora Maar, and Brassaï used their cameras and darkrooms to represent modern subjects in startling new ways.

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I was particularly struck by Brassaï’s photographs–one in particular, “Bijou” (1939), about a woman named Mme Bijou, decked out in finery, who was once rich and now lives off charity and reads palms.

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One detail I found charming was that the informational plaques were written and edited by Boston College students as part of a one-semester course designed around the curation of the museum. Some of my friends had their writing featured as part of the exhibit!

Our lovely evening was accompanied by a jazz band, hot chocolate, and an Eiffel Tower print cake.

For more information on the exhibit, please visit the McMullen Museum website.

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