Flânerie, the art of the flâneur, means strolling, loitering, sauntering with no fixed intent; just looking. The invention of the flâneur as icon is often credited to Baudelaire and his famous 1863 essay The Painter of Modern Life: dandified, but incognito, he strolls amongst the crowds of Paris, just behind his pet tortoise. With this in mind and to accompany their 2015 theme “Flâneur Forever,” Hermès opens an exciting exhibition today on the Berges de Seine.
The quays along the Seine river have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, and a few years ago, the city unveiled a dramatically transformed area between the Orsay museum and the Pont de l’Alma. The roadway was pedestrianized, and there’s now a lovely promenade featuring free leisure activities and amenities for Parisians, flâneurs and visitors. Sustainable development has also been a major factor in the design of the promenade.
The left bank Seine promenade, now a permanent site, spans 2.3 kilometers and covers 4.5 hectares, with a floating garden, sports and fun activities for children and adults, as well as places to relax.
The Berges also have other surprises in store: temporary exhibitions, a ‘sound shower’, spectacular views of major Parisian monuments (the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Grand Palais), and numerous cafes, restaurants (like Faust) and takeaways for delicious snacks.
So, hardly surprising that Hermès, in collaboration with the city of Paris, in a specially constructed ephemeral space, presents their wild and wacky “Dans L’Oeil du Flâneur” exhibition, the brilliant concept of Artistic Director Pierre-Alexis Dumas, recently raved about in London at The Saatchi Gallery where it was titled “Wanderland”.
With set designs by Hubert Le Gall, the show is beautifully curated by Bruno Gaudichon, curator of La Piscine Musée d’Art et d’Industrie in Roubaix. Visitors are plunged into a surrealistic dream world of joy and fantasy, with a Paris-inspired landscape as its backdrop. Eleven rooms present a series of installations in various media, some interactive, created by a diverse selection of artists.
Hermès CEO Emile Dumas says that this is a show for everyone. “It’s not about marketing the brand, it’s more about conveying who we are, something that even children can enjoy, you just need a fresh eye to look at it”.
From a Parisian square, to a covered passage, or a cafe of forgotten objects, this is Alice through the looking glass, an extended cabinet of curiosities. In fact, the brand is displaying its wares in ways not too dissimilar to the incredible Christmas windows at the rue Saint-Honoré flagship store.
A number of artists including video artists Romain Laurent, Nicolas Tourte, Magali Desbazeille and Siegfried Canto have created highly theatrical rooms. Among the exhibits are a 19th century Parisian shopping arcade and, one room is filled with “special edition” handbags including the iconic Hermès Birkin Bag which normally sells for about $30,000. Dream on and put one on your wish list! Do not miss this magical show.
Note: Emmanuel Pierre (illustrator) and Bruno Gaudichon will sign their book Dans L’Oeil du Flâneur (35€) on Saturday, September 19th at 4pm at: Librairie Chaîne d’Encre, 17 rue de Sèvres, 6th arrondissement. (Tel: 01 42 84 41 57).
Dans L’Oeil du Flâneur: From Port de Solferino, between La Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor and the Pont de la Concorde. Free from 11am-7pm, and there is also a “nocturne” viewing. Reservations suggested. Book online here.
On September 24th & in tandem with La Nuit Blanche, October 3rd, they’re open all night.
Lead photo credit : Dans L’Oeil du Flâneur
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