Skip to content



Postcard from Paris

Postcard from Paris: Three Exhibitions To See This Summer

If you happen to stop by the city of lights, chances are you will run into the now-legendary French strikes and a miscellany of soccer fans tracking UEFA games throughout the city. This and the creeping heat will put you on the hunt for shelter. Fortunately, the city remains an ever-favorable place to surrender to higher culture. In Paris the longstanding is bound to confront the novel. Here is a selection of three contemporary shows that have managed this tricky balance with brio and that will provide you a summery urban haven.

1.“Dans l’atelier” at the Petit Palais

Postcard from Paris 1956/ 1957

“In the Studio,” on view through July 17, is featuring more than 400 photographs supplemented by paintings, sculptures, and videos all investigating the sacred grounds of the artist’s studio. The impressive selection of works allows a closer look at the artist’s creative process on his own personal terrain. Artists subtly immortalized in their production include Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Antoine Bourdelle, Ossip Zadkine, Louise Bourgeois, Paul Rebeyrolle but also contemporaneous minds as Joan Mitchell, Miquel Barceló, and Jeff Koons. This is one of the first exhibitions to explore the photographic gaze on the studio on such a grand scale.

The exhibit is organized in three themes: “The artist in majesty,” which examines the more official photos of artists in their studios. These are almost used as business cards to represent him in his profession. “Life in the studio” looks at the more daily and intimate aspect of the studio as both a place for solitary recollection, collective sharing, and everyday life. The last section “Photographic meditations” reveals how the photographer or “intruder” re-appropriates the creative space; notably how an image-maker nurtures from the vision of another maker to create his own.

Postcard from Paris Silver print

2.“Seydou Keïta” at the Grand Palais

This first broad and joyful retrospective, on view until July 11, celebrates the freshness and innovation of Seydou Keïta’s photography. Considered as an official documenter and symbol of Mali’s independence, Keïta’s oeuvre is a playful yet sincere reflection of the beginning of the post-colonial era. As the exhibit’s selection of almost 300 photos testifies, generally, when a subject is posing he is seeking to give off the best possible image of himself. Keïta understood this concept better than anyone else and innovated portraiture through detailed accessorizing, subtle use of decors, the introduction of clothing, music and even the invention of certain poses (bust-length, three quarter view). All of these innovations fostered his clients to revel in a certain freedom that allowed them to reveal their identity and character beyond the limits of their financial means. Keïta even said himself that placing his subject before a white wall was disrespectful.

Postcard from Paris Courtesy of CAAC, The Pigozzi Collection, Genève

The show displays for the first time a collection of silver prints executed between 1993 and 2001, signed by Keïta and organized chronologically from 1949 to 1962 which takes into account his signature backdrops made of fabrics thanks to which he could date his prints.

3.“New York Extravaganza” at the Philharmonie de Paris.

Postcard from Paris Gérard Rondeau

If you get homesick don’t panic and head over to the recently inaugurated Philharmonie of Paris designed by Jean Nouvel to see the exhibition devoted to the outlandish trajectory of The Velvet Underground, “New York Extravaganza.” On view through August 21, this ambitious exhibition is one of the most immersive on the topic ever realized. With six films commissioned specifically for the occasion, an impressive display of TV archives, underground art films by the likes of Barbara Rubin, Gerard Malanga, and Warhol are coupled with influenced contemporary films by Douglas Gordon or Gus Van Sant, all complemented by the photography of Nat Finkelstein, Steve Shapiro, or Donald Green. The French have long held affection and acclaim for the path of the band as one of genius for its transgression, fatality, and foreshadowing of disillusionment of an overly naïve era. Through lens of the iconic band, the whole cultural journey of New York is examined starting from the end of World War II to the beginning of the aesthetic revolution of the 70s instigated by the likes of David Bowie and passing through the determining Beat Generation and Warhol’s Factory years.




The visionary designer Iris van Herpen realized a lifelong dream of infusing painting and sculpture into contemporary couture.
Whitewall's Winter 2024 cover story spotlights the artist just as his time with the L’Académie des Beaux-Arts Residency was wrapping up.


Go inside the worlds
of Art, Fashion, Design,
and Lifestyle.