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French cultural life - January 2019

A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in French cultural life

1.Frocks for the memories

French actress Catherine Deneuve will have plenty of wardrobe space at the end of this month, as around 300 items of her clothing, all made by Yves St Laurent, will be auctioned off.

Many of the pieces being sold are bespoke creations by the bespectacled haute couture icon, who died in 2008.Christie’s auction house in Paris is in charge of the sale of coats, dresses and accessories, with half of them being sold online and the other half in its salons.

The actress was styled by YSL both off and on screen, notably when she played the secret call-girl in 1967’s Belle de Jour. “These are the creations of such a talented man who only created to make women more beautiful,” said the 75-year-old, who first met the designer aged 22.


2. Small screen, bigger future

Ile-de-France’s smallest cinema – housed in a former barn – which was under threat of closure due to lack of funding, has been saved thanks to new subsidies.

The 50-seat art-house cinema in Mons-en-Montois, a small village in Seine-et-Marne with less than 500 inhabitants, was opened in 2002 by Michel Le Clerc, a former documentary director.

Part of the deal, agreed with the local Pôle Emploi, will see the cinema’s projectionist retained for six months on a salary of €800 for a 26-hour week, with 70% of it covered by the State.

On average, 175 local film goers attend screenings at the picture house each week. Donations can be made via and are 66% tax deductible.


3. Le Bataclan is back

Le Bataclan rock venue, which was the scene of a deadly terrorist attack in 2015, began a new chapter in its history in November with new owners (the Lagardère group) and a new woman at its helm –  Florence Jeux, former director of the annual Francofolies music festival in La Rochelle.

The concert hall in the 11th arrondissement, which was completely renovated in the months after the tragedy of November 13 2015, symbolically reopened with a concert by Sting on the day before the first anniversary of the attacks.

90 concert goers were killed by gunmen while watching a gig by US group Eagles of Death Metal.


4. The silent treatment

Sharp-witted satirist Florence Foresti became the first French performer to ban the use of mobile phones at concert venues when she played two sold-out Paris show in December.

Patrons were invited to leave their mobile phones in a special area containing individual electronically sealable ‘Yondr’ pouches – and were not able to access them until after the show or, exceptionally, in case of emergency.

The aim, said a statement on her website, was “to avoid pirate recordings and ensure a link with the audience”. US rocker Jack White used the same system when he played the city’s Olympia in July 2018.


5.  Pictures tell a thousand words

Photography is the preferred medium of many art fans and often an entry point for those beginning a collection.

However, new figures reveal that the sale of photographs only accounts for 1.1% of the world’s art auction revenues.

A report by art market analysts Artprice, to coincide with November’s huge Paris Photo fair, found that the prices of photographs remain largely limited. One of the main reasons, it said, is the ever-increasing ease with which images can be copied and distributed thanks to digital formats.

Paris Photo, which showcased and sold images from 168 galleries (see below) in 30 countries, confirmed the medium’s popularity with a 6.7% year-on-year rise in visitor figures, and an increase in foreign visitors of 40%.

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