My first full day in Paris I went to the Grand Palais at the end of the Champs Elysees to check out the expo on Nouveau Realisme. In general, I wasn't entirely awed by the expo. These were a group of artists who were post-Dada (how could you get any stranger than Dada?), which included Raymond Hains, Arman, Yves Klein, Daniel Spoerri, Martial Raysse, Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely. Here is what struck me from the expo. First off, the Blue Man Group is totally derivative of Yves Klein. He even patented his signature shade of blue. I wonder if Yves Klein would like BMG, or despise them. Second, the Nouveaux Realistes were burning art way before Burning Man was even conceived, but I bet you they would be repeat burners year after year if the majority of them were still here (in fact, I'll have to check if they are around. Maybe they have been to Burning Man). Third, my favorite artist of the whole show was Niki de Saint Phalle, and not just because she was the only woman in the group, but because I actually liked her art. She makes these immense nanas, some pregnant, but all vibrant with color. I had no idea she was the artist behind the Sun God, the statue in the center of the campus of my alma mater, UC San Diego.
That evening I met Anne and her friend Anne from high school for dinner and drinks by the Canal at Quai de Valmy in the 10th arrondissement, made famous by Amelie Poulain from the scene in her movie. With the legislative elections on Sunday, Paris is currently covered in political posters for candidates. Anne pointed out the affiche for her party (the PCF), whose slogan we thought was quite catchy: "Nos vies valent plus que leurs profits!" (Translation: Our lives matter more than their profits!) In true communist style, she and I headed over to a cafe called la Bellevilloise in Menilmontant, which was the first co-op in Paris, apparently founded days after the Paris Commune in 1877. We each had a biere blanche, and exhausted, went home.