The weather is exceptionally warm for Paris this December, hovering around 55°F/12°C, with no frosty freeze in sight. But if you have already had your fill of Christmas markets, ice skating, and the overcrowded halls of the Louvre, Orsay and Grand Palais, there are several smaller exhibitions around Paris worth a peek this winter.
Philippe Halsman Astonish Me! at the Jeu de Paume
One of the greatest photographers of the 20th century, Philippe Halsman got his start as a young man in Paris alongside contemporaries such as Dali and Man Ray before moving to New York in 1940 because of the Occupation. There he started working for Life Magazine (where he holds the record of 101 covers), shooting some of the greatest stars and personalities of the time, including Marilyn Monroe. This retrospective showcases 300 exclusive images and original documents (contact sheets and prints, preliminary proofs, original photomontages and mock-ups) that attempt to show not just the finished photos themselves, but the avant-garde techniques he perfected to achieve them. There’s a free smartphone app for the exhibition as well. Through January 24, open Tues 11am-9pm, Wed-Sun 11am-7pm. Entry €10.
Ateliers d’Artistes at the Musée Mendjisky
I had been meaning to visit this museum in the 15th arrondissement for some time. It’s a museum dedicated to the two Ecoles de Paris (Schools of Paris), artists who worked primarily in the Montparnasse district in the 1920s and immediately after WWII. The building itself is an Art Deco artist’s studio designed by the Robert Mallet-Stevens, one of the most influential architects of the interwar period, and a contemporary of Corbusier. It’s down an almost hidden passage called the Square de Vergennes, right outside the Vaugirard metro station. The architecture is what I found most interesting about the museum, but I also enjoyed the temporary exhibition Ateliers d’Artistes, which features 60 photographs, architectural plans and descriptions (in French only) of Parisian artist studios from the 19th and 20th centuries, from Montmartre to Montparnasse, most which are inaccessible to the general public outside open studio days. Through January 10th, open from 11am-6pm (closed Thursdays, and Dec 24th-27th), entry €9.
Hey! Modern Art & Pop Culture/Act III at the Halle Saint-Pierre
I’ve always loved the Halles Saint-Pierre, an steel, brick and glass pavilion at the foot of Montmartre housing a museum, art gallery, book store, café and auditorium. The exhibitions are usually “outsider” contemporary art and art brut. I saw an HR Giger exhibit here years ago. The current exhibition is a collaboration with Hey! Magazine of modern art and pop culture featuring 62 artists — including “lowbrow” art pioneer from California Mark Ryden, Joël Negri, Ed Hardy, Alain Bourbonnais and Thomas Woodruff — and 400 works of art in various mediums. Through March 13th, open 11am-6pm, Sat until 7pm, Sun from noon-6pm, entry €8.50.
Bons Baisers de Paris at the Galerie des Bibliothèques de la Ville de Paris
Kisses from Paris: 300 Years of Tourism in the Capital is a bilingual English-French exhibition on the ever-changing role of tourism in the City of Light from the 18th century through the post-WWII boom. Photographs, posters, travel brochures, tour guides and other vintage documents from the national archives and Carnavalet Museum are presented in four themes: The Revolution in Paris Tourism, Paris as a Show, The Spirit of Paris from Bohemian to Luxury, and the Globalization of Tourism. Held in the City of Paris Library gallery in the Marais (22 rue Mahler) through March 31st. Open Tues-Sun 1-7pm, Thurs until 9pm. Entry €6 (free Thursdays 6-9pm).