March 25, 2012

Exploring Paris

Photo by Anna Hobbs
Those of us who are lucky enough to live in Paris can often call ourselves explorers. Every day, new worlds present themselves. Undiscovered treasures appear just around a corner or through a slightly open courtyard door. A unique cast of characters passes through our lives, sharing a bit of their unfolding stories if we are observant enough to catch a glimpse. And with just a subtle shift in light or weather, even familiar haunts take on new life.

Photo by Jeanne MacInnes
This week, the WICE photography advanced class altered their normal time slot and became night wanderers. And when darkness falls, wild and beautiful things happen, especially in the Trocadero/Tour Eiffel area.

Join the WICE photography program and explore Paris with a new way of looking at the world. There are several more courses left in the spring program. Take a look. In fact, a creative photography one-day workshop is coming up this Saturday (March 31). It's family friendly, so bring your teenagers and/or spouse. Find out more here

Photo by Pamela Spurdon

Photo by Lorena Coletta
Photo by Petra Nass

Posted by Photography Instructor Meredith Mullins

March 11, 2012

Berenice Abbott at the Jeu de Paume

To continue our week's focus on visual arts, we introduce the new exhibit of the American photographer Berenice Abbott at the Jeu de Paume. Women photographers were a minority in the early days of photography, and the ones who rose to the challenge were exceptionally strong personalities with unique perspectives.

Berenice Abbott was no exception. Born in 1898, she came to Paris in 1921, studied sculpture, experimented with photography, and worked with Man Ray before opening her own portrait studio in 1926. She photographed the heart of the avant-garde scene, including American expatriates, bohemians, and the literary community. Influenced heavily by surrealism, her subjects were often in disguise, or in dramatic light with strong graphic backgrounds, or distorted in her printing process.

Jean Cocteau (1926)
When she returned to New York City in the early 1930s, she launched a "documentary portrait" of the city ... to show the diversity of people at work and play, as well as the contrast of old and the new and how these forces are integrally linked. Like Eugene Atget, whom she greatly admired, her diligence and attention to detail provided a historical record as well as an artistic interpretation of a changing city. Her honest camera showed moments of destruction as well as reconstruction.

In the summer of 1935, Abbott took to the road to capture America through its people and their habitats (farms, diners, bars, and dance halls). She went first to the southern U.S. and later along Route 1 of the east coast creating images that documented life during that difficult period. And, in the 1950s, she produced a remarkable series of photographs as she documented the laws of physics.

Throughout these varied projects, she remained true to her art. "Photography can never grow up if it imitates some other medium. It has to walk alone; it has to be itself."

The Berenice Abbott exhibit at the Jeu de Paume includes 120 photographs as well as books and documents never before exhibited. It runs until 29 April.

Avoid the long lines for this popular exhibit and join the special WICE guided tour on Tuesday evening, March 13 at 18h45. For more information, click here.

Posted by Meredith Mullins.
Photographs courtesy of Jeu de Paume press site/Ronald Kurtz/Commerce Graphics © Berenice Abbott. 

March 6, 2012

An Integration of Arts

Painting by Jane Vernhes
In keeping with a blog focus on visual arts this week, we turn now to a WICE artist who has one foot in the painting world and one in the photography world (or shall we say an eye here and an eye there). Jane Vernhes took Jan Olsson's painting class, which focused on using photographs as inspiration and/or as a reference document. She also took the Introduction to Digital Photography Class with Meredith Mullins to add to her knowledge of photography—how to capture a moment or a pose or a certain quality of light. The techniques she learned in both classes are making a difference in how she sees the world and in how she paints it.

The photograph shown below was Jane's record of a scene from her window that struck her as beautiful—the spring color and misty morning light of her garden. The technical limitations of the camera's contrast range prevented the correct exposure of both the darker inside of the house and the bright outside light of the garden. Plus, there were a few distracting elements in the foreground. In Jane's own words, the photo needs some work.

Photograph by Jane Vernhes
But painters begin with a blank canvas and can use a photograph to inspire their work or to help them remember a mood or a palette of colors. In her painting class, Jane learned that having the confidence to use composition and color spontaneously was important. You can change the palette to create more harmony among the hues. You can simplify foreground or background to limit distractions. She painted the garden in more saturated tones and simplified the interior to create a lovely rendition of what she felt that misty morning.

Jane is a long-time resident of France, arriving in 1973 from Scotland to finish her studies in Ecology and work for UNESCO. Now enjoying retirement, she spends time doing exactly what makes her happy—gardening, cooking, walking in the country, and painting. For her, painting is an expression of her love for life and the allure of nature. To communicate these feelings and this beauty to others is one small way to make the world a better place.

The Artist ... Jane Vernhes
If your feet are in the painting world, join the new acrylic and mixed-media painting course that begins on March 13. For more information, click here. Or, if your feet are in the photography world, join the new Mastering the Art of Photography course that begins on March 13. For more information, click here. Or, keep a foot in each and take both courses. Photography in the morning and painting in the afternoon. (Also coming up on March 31 is a one-day Creative Photography workshop. For more information, click here.)

Posted by Meredith Mullins

March 2, 2012

Is Paris Drawing? The Semaine du Dessin 2012

Semaine du Dessin
There is no doubt that Paris is a Capital of Art, and each year the prestigious Semaine du Dessin (Drawing Week) attracts the most important collectors from France and abroad, as well as museum curators from all over the world. Held from March 22 to April 2, 2012, this event allows us to rediscover museums’ reserves, with exhibitions and special auctions. Auction houses conduct sales of Old Master Drawings, many museums display drawing-related exhibitions, art galleries present their best drawings, and finally there are several dealers at the famous Paris flea market exhibiting drawings. This week is a fantastic opportunity to see and be inspired by some of the world’s best drawings.

Salon du Dessin
Now in its 20th year, the Salon du Dessin has made Paris the capital of drawings; and the fair, held in the Palais de la Bourse, is at its center. Carefully chosen from among the most serious and renowned in the field, the participating galleries present a selection of superb drawings dating from the 13th to the 21st century by old masters and contemporary artists. This event is impatiently awaited by all lovers of works on paper.

Salon du Dessin is at the Palais de la Bourse from 28 March–2 April. For more information, visit

Drawing Now/Paris—Le Salon du Dessin Contemporain
The Salon du Dessin Contemporain is the first contemporary art fair dedicated exclusively to contemporary drawings. For its 6th edition, the fair will welcome around 80 international galleries. During 4 days, in the center of Paris, collectors, curators, and art lovers are invited to (re)discover the contemporary artistic scene through the drawings of well-known and emerging artists. 

Drawing Now/Paris is held at the Carrousel du Louvre from 29-March to 1-April 2012.  For more information see

Musée Rodin—Capturing the Model
We know that Rodin was a sculptor but did you know that he was also a creator of drawings?  Later in his life, Rodin launched this new career, drawing every day from a live model. His passion resulted in a collection of more than 7,000 works.

The Musée Rodin presents a collection of 300 drawings from his last 30 years, featuring drawings of ink with splashes of watercolor.

Rodin Museum’s Capturing the Model is held now through 1 April 2012.  Information can be found at

Other events of La Semaine du Dessin include
Maison de Victor Hugo: Les arcs-en-ciel du noir, An invitation to Annie Le Brun/ March 15th – August 26th 2012

Musée Carnavalet: Theatre, dance and music in Paris during the Romantic period – Prints from the Tamvaco collection : February 28th to April 16th 2012

Museum of Modern Art: Eko Nugroho, SAM Art Project: January 13th – April 1st  2012; Christopher Wool: March 30th – August 19th 2012

Museum of Général Leclerc and the Liberation of Paris/Musée Jean Moulin: etchings by Jean Moulin, (Romanin is his artist's name), illustrating poems by Tristan Corbière, Armor (published in 1935). Guided tour: private conference with the museum director, Christine Levisse-Touzé, on Friday March 30th 2012 at 10 am.

Your Own Drawing?
Inspired to improve your drawing or start your first drawing course ?  Check out WICE’s drawing courses for all levels of artists.

Posted by Daniel Smith, WICE Visual Arts Director