more on the grand palais

In my last post I blogged about the Monumenta art installation at the Grand Palais in Paris.  The art exhibitions are amazing, but the building is blog-worthy as well.

Grand PalaisThe Grand Palais, Paris, France

The Grand Palais was constructed in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition. The Universal Exhibitions were world fairs, and some of the buildings created for these monumental events include the Crystal Palace in London, and the Eiffel Tower. A competition was held for the design, and the final was a collaborative effort between architects Henri Deglane, Albert Louvet, Albert Thomas, and coordinator Charles Girault.

Grand PalaisThe Grand Palais, Paris, France

The Grand Palais’ glass roof is the largest in Europe.The building is a complex that houses a science museum, the Galeries nationales (art collections), a restaurant, a central police station, rehearsal rooms and additional exhibition space.  Chanel hosts many fashion shows here each year.

Grand PalaisThe Nave, Grand Palais

The Nave is the central area of the building, and the best known part of the Palais, with its magnificent glass roof. (On a side note, FYI,  a “nave” is the central approach to the high altar of a church.)

grand palaisThe Nave, Grand Palais

Visit the official site to take a virtual tour – it is a beautiful journey online: If you can’t get to Paris to see it in person, this is the next best thing. Wow.

time again to fill the space

Monumenta is an annual art project in its fifth year, located in Paris’ Grand Palais. The project asks an artist of international stature to fill the Nave of this stone and steel building with its soaring glass vaults and a space measuring about 145,000 square feet.
Grand PalaisThe Nave, Grand Palais, Paris
This year the artist featured is Daniel Buren, a minimalist artist who is considered one of France’s national treasures, according to Art Daily. I love many of his works because they fill the space with vibrant color, and his ‘Excentrique(s)’  follows suit.
Daniel Buren

‘Excentrique(s)’,  Daniel Buren, 2012, in situ at the Grand Palais.
Photography: Didier Plowy, courtesy: Daniel Buren, ADAGP, Paris

Buren’s work “in situ” is created on the site, and is one of the hallmarks of his work.  He first began working onsite as a struggling artist, because he could not afford a studio.

Daniel Buren‘Excentrique(s)’,  Daniel Buren
Photograph: Francois Mori/AP

“Parisian daylight has a very special quality—sometimes soft, sometimes hard—and when you’re under this amazing roof, there’s nothing obstructing it from flooding in. All the time I was thinking of ways of sculpting light and air.” -Daniel Buren, from the Wall Street Journal

Daniel Buren‘Excentrique(s)’,  Daniel Buren
Photograph: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images

Part of Buren’s inspiration resulted from a drawing of five concentric circles that he saw while leafing through a book of Arabian mathematical drawings from the 10th century. He saw that the circles covered a greater amount of space than any other geometric form.

Enjoy a slideshow of images at The Guardian, and visit Daniel Buren’s site to view more of his work:

a little break

I am disappointed that I broke my streak of consistent blog posting 4-5 days per week. However, it was for a very good reason. I had a relative from the family tree track down our branch of the family, and she came from Buenos Aires to visit. She brought a huge poster of our family tree, with pictures of my grandparents, their brothers and sisters, and the descending relatives. It was truly amazing. We then skyped with another relative in Slovenia, where our history as we know it begins, and I was able to introduce the two of them, making another new connection in the family. I can’t imagine traveling so far to stay with an unknown family, but we had an amazing week together and made a lasting connection.

Family TreeFamily picture from (what was then) Yugoslavia

We found out so many interesting things about our family history.  Our visitor is a neurologist, with an additional degree in psychiatry.  We found out about a cousin who was involved in diamond mining in Africa, was a millionaire, then mysteriously lost everything and came back to Slovenia with nothing.  We have cousins who migrated to England and France.  And we heard many sad stories about the war, and the bad times they endured in Slovenia.

“Art and culture hold a special place in Slovenian history, as they helped the Slovenes to compensate in many ways for the lack of national political and government institutions in the past.” from

Ivan GroharPomlad (Spring), Ivan Grohar

According to the website,, Slovenian painting reached its qualitative peak with works of Impressionism, displayed at an acclaimed exhibition in Vienna in 1904.

St. Michael's ChurchSt Michael church, on the outskirt of Ljubljana, Jože Plečnik
Photo by Karmen Smolnikar @ Flickr

Plečnik Ljubljana, Market, 1940–1942, Jože Plečnik
Foto: Damjan Prelovšek

Slovenia is also proud to claim architect Jože Plečnik, whose influence is seen in the shaping of Vienna, Prague and Ljubliana. He was considered a visionary and a reformer, using new building materials and acting as a pioneer in urban planning. His style was unique in that it was highly original and experimental, yet simultaneously incorporated historical dimension and established traditions.

Meeting family, and hearing about the history of my own family in particular, gives me a feeling I can hardly describe.  I feel very small, just a tiny part of this long time line.  In these days of disconnected families, it is truly a treasure to have this knowledge and have history come alive.