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Cafe' De Flore, Paris, October 2011.

Cafe' De Flore, Paris, October 2011.


Fall Bouquet


“El cariño que te tengo. Yo no lo puedo negar.

Paris sun

is the glow of her cafes.

It is a dusk sun that burns in the night,

the warmth of crowds,

bright minds while shadows fall.

Cigarette ambers,

the heat of Bossanova bass

in St. Germain.


“Llego a Cueto, voy para Mayarí”

Fallen leaves of orange, gold, copper

I make a bouquet

for our house of glass love.

Sunset is each day’s autumn.

I fill rooms with colours

Gardener of my own heart.

Draw before you lose them

Orange umbrellas

I’m left with buttons.

“¡Y ahora si quieren bailar,
búsquense otro timbalero!”

 

You opened my heart

with a wound of light.

 

There are flamenco guitars and sheeshas

on roof terraces

There are nights such as these

–filled with stars–

in Tunis or Bayreuth.

 

There are dancing sunrises in Ibiza

and white cabanas on Miami beaches.

 

There is a cafe where our traveling souls will meet

There is poetry after the fire.



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Calvary and Atonement. Paris, Le Marais district. October 2011

The Dark Night of the Soul

St John Of the Cross


On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy
chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,

Without light or guide, save that which burned in my
heart.

This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me–
A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.


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No blind facade allowed. Paris, 2011. Intersection between Clovis and rue Descartes. Mural by Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky, poem by French poet and writer Yves Bonnefoy (2000)

Passant,
regarde ce grand arbre
et à travers lui,
il peut suffire.Car même déchiré, souillé,
l’arbre des rues,
c’est toute la nature,
tout le ciel,
l’oiseau s’y pose,
le vent y bouge, le soleil
y dit le même espoir
malgréla mort.

Philosophe,
as-tu chance d’avoir arbre
dans ta rue,
tes pensées seront moins ardues,
tes yeux plus libres,
tes mains plus désireuses
de moins de nuit.


Yves Bonnefoy


Passerby,
look at this great tree
and through it,
that could  be enough.For even torn up, sullied,
the tree of the street is
all of nature,
all the heavens,
the bird alights there,
the wind moves there,the sun there expresses
the same hope
in spite of death.

Philosopher,
if you are lucky enough to
have trees in your street,
your thoughts will be less arduous,
your eyes more free,
your hands more desirous,
at least at night.


My own translation based on this one.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

L’arbre bleu: A concrete poem to Paris

By Cara Waterfall



A luminous, blue tree explodes above the Paris rooftops of the 5ième arrondissement. L’arbre bleu (or the blue tree) is the flâneur’s reward for roaming the streets of Paris in reverie and without a map.

This 2000 mural by Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky, completed in situ, is at the intersection of rue Clovis and rue Descartes. At Alechinsky’s request, the painting has been accompanied by a poem by his friend and renowned French poet and writer Yves Bonnefoy.

The tree’s radiance is in stark contrast to its metropolitan environment: it is a bright blue column with only a few errant splashes to mar its clean lines; the branches emanate from the trunk like an open palm, fingers outstretched. The image reminds the observer that nature still has a place here – although it is somewhat camouflaged by the crowds and the congestion of buildings.

But the border of this central motif tells another story: Alechinsky, 84, delights in imperfection and the margins provide a narrative of their own. Each block in the border of l’arbre bleu reveals the troubled fragments of this urban world: charred trees have succumbed to civilization and now wilt against the concrete backdrop; bursts of royal blue spatter blemish the other blocks of the frame.

Bonnefoy, 87, has written extensively about the meaning of spoken and written words. His style is unembellished with a simple use of vocabulary that can be misleading: he manages to imbue a sensuality into this sparseness of language. As such, it is the ideal complement to Alechinsky’s l’arbre bleu.

The poem gently intrudes on the individual’s consciousness and suggests that this image is sufficient to begin a dialogue about how humans interact with their environment and specifically, how art can bring us closer to nature. The poet further explains that although it is only the image of a living tree, this “torn, soiled tree of the streets” is vivid enough that a bird perches on it, the wind moves it – even the sun shares its hopeful rays with it.

L’arbre bleu was a natural sequel to Alechinsky and Bonnefoy’s initial collaboration: in 2009 Bonnefoy had written a book about the artist’s pictorial method of expression in Alechinsky, Les traversées (The Crossings). He was well prepared for this text having written numerous essays on the subject. The book also explores his involvement with the CoBrA Group, a radical art movement from 1948 to 1951, of which Alechinsky was one of the founders.

Alechinsky is the sole surviving member of the CoBrA Group. (The name was coined by one of the founders, Christian Dotremont, from the initials of the members’ hometowns: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam.) The Group was inspired by primitive art and children’s drawings. Their painting is characterised by vibrant colours, and vigorous brushstrokes; this liberty of movement is evident in l’arbre bleu. Critics have dismissed Alechinsky as “the man who grew up to be a child” and his art as infantile scribbling, but this spontaneity is representative of the CoBrA movement.

In the early 1950s Alechinsky became enamoured with oriental calligraphy: this highly stylized way of writing with an ink-wet brush allowed for greater variations in the curve and thickness of the lines he used in his work. His experience as the Paris correspondent for the Japanese journal Bokubi (The Joy of Ink) further informed his artistic methods. But the overriding trait of his art remains the combination of writing and pictorial signs.

The Blue Tree mural in Paris

L’arbre bleu differs from “standard” graffiti in that it was not created under cloak of darkness, but was commissioned; however, it still fits into the category of street art as a political vehicle that is countercultural. The painted tree explores our relationship to nature and underscores the fact that the concrete jungle can be fertile ground for the imagination.

But the real strength of l’arbre bleu lies in its economy: the painted image and the poem are layered with meaning. They articulate that nature can be accessible anywhere. Alechinsky and Bonnefoy have redefined the concrete poem: its lyricism unfolds amid the circuitry of the city – the painted tree no more out of place than a real one would be.

From indietravelpodcast.com.

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Paris, 2011.

Paris, 2011.

Paris, 2011.

Paris, 2011.

Paris, 2011.

Balzac called the boulevards of Paris what the Grand Canal was to Venice,

saying that whoever stepped onto them was lost to their charm:

“on y boit des idees.’ (here people drink in ideas).

Edmund White, The Flaneur

” If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man,

 then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you,

for Paris is a moveable feast.”

Ernest Hemingway



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Paris,2011.

Paris,2011.

Paris,2011.

Paris,2011.

Paris,2011.

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My mom in Paris. Polaroid,1967.

Her portable dictionary (No apps back then).

P.S: It is November 1st and I once again joined NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month)- In their new home Blogher.com.

This year I’m also on NaNoWriMo (30 days and nights of literary abandon!)

Wish me Bonne Chance…

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Digital Collage. October 2011.

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Lanternes et Notredame. Paris. 2011

 

To walk in Paris is to behold, and be part of, a living and continuously changing painting.

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Ink on hand.book paper. Paris, 2011.

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For many travelers, Paris is Parisland. Here’s the Eiffel Tower. Let’s take aboat ride along the Seine. Ah, the Champs Elysees. Five museums on the list —
let’s whip through them. And, late at night, we’ve got to find that nightclub where the girls kick up their …heels.

Others — that’s my brood and me — go to Paris for the quiet. We sit in cafes for hours. We settle on parkbenches. We take long walks on nearly empty streets. It’s still Parisland, just another kind: an open-air library, a set for dreaming, an urban pillow for outdoor naps.

From a review of Quiet Corners of Paris

Here is a curated list for the flaneur/flaneuse to pack on your messenger bag.

And here, more on the The Flâneur: A Radical-Chic Icon

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The Screen Woman. Digital Collage. Text from "A Year in the Merde" by Stephen Clarke.

 

 

Photo from Inspired Goodness.

 
Founded in 2008, Inspired Goodness is a custom invitation and paper goods studio
located in Brooklyn, NY.
 
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Notable books:
 
 
 
 

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The Flâneur: A Radical-Chic Icon

The Flâneur. Ink on trace paper. February 26, 2011

The Flâneur and his turtle in the streets of Paris. Digital collage. February 26, 2011. Background photo from San Francisco’s artist David Blumin. Click for his website.



Then I heard the phrase ‘Walk with a turtle’ on NPR, during an interview with Council of Dads’ author Bruce Feiler–and had an epiphany: I, too, had been a flâneuse in my early years. When I was 9 years old I used to tie a red ribbon to the shell of my turtle Stefania/Stefano (we are still not sure) and take her for ‘walks’ around my building and in the field of olive trees nearby. This cannot just be explained by mere coincidence or a sense of equanimity (i would take my giant schnautzer Zorro for walks- or rather, he would take me- and treated Stefania/Stefano to the same). By walking the city (ok , in my case the field of olive trees) at the pace of a tortoise, we are bound to pay attention to life around us, to read the city–not just skim it from the wheel of our car or glancing up from smartphones while we traverse sidewalks. Having a turtle as a guide nudges us to stop rushing. I am reminded of the buddhist monk in the documentary ‘Baraka’, slowly pacing the street with small steps , at the sound of a bell–in the midst of a hyperactive Japanese metropolis. The realization of possible multi-layered readings on the figure of the flaneur prompted a small research.

Historical evidence of The Flâneur? Or just man waiting for his wife? Undated image from: storify.com/virtualdavis/flaneur

The  Flâneur

The term comes from ‘flâner’, which means to stroll in French. From this verb Baudelaire coined the word  flâneur, a person who walks the city in order to experience it.  The flâneur is driven  by an  insatiable  hunger  for  passion; he  seeks  the  streets and  the  city  life  for they  provide  inspiration  and  cure him of the malaise and loneliness  of  being human. He practices mindfulness, or conscious dilly-dallying. In US they would call him a ‘loiterer’, surely shoo him away…or perhaps fine or even jail him (I always tell my students there is no such thing as the word ‘loitering’ in Italian….what else would we do in Piazzas!?). My friend Bruce and I were discussing the flâneur few days ago and he reminded me of  the symbology of the turtle and this quote from Rumi:

The soul needs as much time to wander as the feet.

Rumi

 

Baudelaire writes of the flâneur:

 The  crowd  is  his  element,  as  the  air  is  that  of  birds  and  water  of  fishes.

 His  passion  and passionate  spectator,  it  is  an  immense  joy  to  set  up  house  in  the  heart  of  the  multitude, amid  the  ebb  and  flow  of  movement,  in  the  midst  of  the  fugitive  and  the  infinite.

To  be away  from  home  and  yet  to  feel  oneself  everywhere  at  home;  to  see  the  world,  to  be  at the  centre  of  the  world,  and  yet  to  remain  hidden  from  the  world

impartial  natures which  the  tongue  can  but  clumsily  define.  The  spectator  is  a  prince  who  everywhere  rejoices  in  his  incognito.  The  lover  of  life  makes  the  whole  world  his  family,  just  like  the lover  of  the  fair  sex  who  builds  up  his  family  from  all  the  beautiful  women  that  he  has ever  found,  or  that  are  or  are  not  -­‐  to  be  found;  or  the  lover  of  pictures  who  lives  in  a magical  society  of  dreams  painted  on  canvas.

 

A Process of Navigating Erudition

From Wikipedia: Flâneur is not limited to someone committing the physical act of peripatetic stroll in the Baudelairian sense, but can also include a “complete philosophical way of living and thinking”, and a process of navigating erudition as described by Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s essay on “Why I Walk” in the second edition of The Black Swan (2010).  A Sunday Time review called The Black Swan  one of the twelve most influential books since WWII.

Benjamin  in his Arcades further describes the flâneur utilizes the city,  which becomes an  extension of  his residence:

The   street   becomes   a   dwelling   for   the   flâneur;   he   is   as   much   at   home   among   the facades  of  houses  as  a  citizen  is  in  his  four  walls.  To  him  the  shiny,  enameled  signs  of businesses  are  at  least  as  good  a  wall  ornament  as  an  oil  painting  is  to  the  bourgeois  in his  salon.  The  walls  are  the  desk  against  which  he  presses  his  notebooks;  news-­‐stands are  his  libraries  and  the  terraces  of  cafés  are  the  balconies  from  which  he  looks  down on  his  household  after  his  work  is  done.


Some of the questions I have been thinking about are : Can the flâneur be a flâneuse? Must he or she always haunt the city aloof and alone, or is ‘Flâneurie’ an activity that can be enjoyed in small groups, maybe of separate actors, each with his or her own turtle?

The flâneur is enjoying immense popularity on the Internet and blogosphere, among the hipster and (pseudo)intellectual crowd.  He is radical chic, a gentleman stroller whose eccentricity is afforded to him by indipendent wealth. He is a man of leisure who can make a statement about the bondage of work and busyiness: he is above it and does not need it.
On the other side of the coin, we might re-evaluate the ‘homeless’ people, the figure of the clochard (sounds better in French doesn’t it) as flâneurs without means, but with the same intellect and intent.  They also make the city their living room and library.

In “American Flaneur: The Cosmic Physiognomy of Edgar Allan Poe“, James V. Werner describes how ‘ highly self-aware, and to a certain degree flamboyant and theatrical, dandies of the mid-nineteenth century created scenes through outrageous acts like walking turtles on leashes down the streets of Paris. Such acts exemplify a flâneur’s active participation in and fascination with street life while displaying a critical attitude towards the uniformity, speed, and anonymity of modern life in the city.’

Hmm…Sounds like The Situationists.

A new interpretation of the activities of the flâneur appear in the writings of Guy Debord, the dérive also being a protest against the processes of consumption and capitalism:

One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.

–Guy Debord

While the flaneurs practiced ‘aimless wandering’, the Situationists devised processes to purposefully get lost.

There is no English equivalent for the French word flâneur. Cassell’s dictionary defines flâneur as a stroller, saunterer, drifter but none of these terms seems quite accurate. There is no English equivalent for the term, just as there is no Anglo-Saxon counterpart of that essentially Gallic individual, the deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, who, being French and therefore frugal, wastes nothinincluding his time which he spends with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of his city.

Cornelia Otis Skinner.

Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, 1962

Watching is the chosen pleasure of flâneur. He is an ‘urban stalker’, as Susan Sontag defines him in her 1977 essay On Photography.  Modern flâneurs, let’s arm ourselves with cameras or a moleskine . Let’s pretend we are all ‘The Sartorialist’ and many, many other envoys on particular missions. Would you enjoy the streets of your city if you thought you were spying on someone, an urban detective, privy to secrets no-one else can know? What would the intelligence gathered from today? What stories could you tell(or draw)? What stories would the city reveal to you. There is so much life out there. And buildings are lessons.

Let the urban voyeurism begin.
Here are some useful links:

And, finally, my very own books for Parisian flanerie.

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This has started to be a weekly blog, and I am not too happy about it. This Quarter has been so intense in a stupendous way: I am involved in a myriad of exciting projects at the school and became involved in new committees – and that has meant less free time, but an overall brand new meaning in what I do. And did I mention the books ? In my studio class we are talking about designing negative space and casting shadows and in history we are in the Golden period of Classical Times : Greece (what have the Greeks done for you lately) and Rome. Who could ask for more?

Throughout it all, we have ‘got to keep the heart’ as Wanda, my sweet ex-neighbor said. Brain food needs to be augmented by daily spirit-food, soul-food…heart-food. As fully-realized human beings we have to ask an incredible amount from each day, but I believe it’s the only way to go…or you could just go on auto-pilot and become numb. Art and what happens here is just that for me, an outlet and inlet of pure ‘heart-stuff’, to balance the facts and seductive theories I’m immersed in everyday. Could we say this is my Dyonisian to the Apollonian? The days that I don’t get to post or practice are somewhat overcast, a bit stuffy, as though not enough light or air was let in.

I finally completed my Viva La Revolucion post and a related ‘revolutionary’ piece {see previous}. It took FOREVER. I don’t know why I keep giving myself homework. But I hope you enjoy that line of thinking, always trying to put it all together in a somewhat cohesive way that has to do with the nature of this forum.
The Holidays are coming and I am looking forward to post more frequently and produce more work. And I have a long list of things/topics so definitely stay tuned!
I finally had some time to do a new collage today.

It all started with this catalog of this year’s Arab Film Festival in San Francisco, and an image of the Salk Institute in San Diego.

I knew I wanted to make a collage using the two for some time, and the inspiration came from a dream last night.

I did not know the word part would materialize. Using the titles of the movie in the Festival, I created a game for myself, a sort of stream-of-consciousness poem generator. Here is one of the early results.

Here is how it all came together, unwritten an unspeakable words, fragments of poems, figments of my imagination…

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Students in Roma protest using 'literary shields' and have given rise to the so-called Book Block.

Students revolts have spread in Italy and England in the past few weeks. The images that I see coming from my country remind me of interactive urban installations organized by Coop Himmelblau in the 1960’s and 1970’s .

These are called ‘soft explosions’, such as the covering of a street in Vienna with foam,or the appearance in the streets of Paris of habitable ‘bubbles’.

Soft Space. Coop Himmelblau. Vienna, 1970.

Bubbles.Coop Himmelblau. Paris, 1968.

Coop Himmelblau’s approach,according to the pleasantly subversive Spatial Agency, is similar to that of Haus-Rucker-Co, based on the Austrian heritage of Freud’s psychoanalytic approach– this led them to explore the relationships between the architectural environment and our individual perceptions of it. Their early work leading up to the late 1970s consisted of performative installations and actions involving the spectators as participants. [read more at
Post-traumatic Urbanism ]

Italian students today put the art in revolt.

During the Book Block protest in Rome (so called by the collective writers Wu Ming— see Black Block for reference ), which took place November 24, 2010 in Rome, University students fashioned ‘literary shields’ to defend themselves against the riot police (members of the Italian police have been charged with murder in several cases involving student demonstrators, sports fans rioting outside of stadiums and G-8 protesters in recent years). The shields become what the students are fighing for: the right for education against drastic government cuts. What better symbol of the predicament Italian Universities are in, than to take to the streets books relevant to today’s Italian young adults. A plank of wood sandwiched between two sheets of cardboard become the book covers. Here are some of the texts, and the titles are sometimes surprising:

 

Tropic of Cancer
by Artur Miller
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Italian Constitution
Decameron by Boccaccio
Naked Sun by Aasimov
A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Deleuze
Gomorrah by Saviano
Don Quixote by Cervantes
Moby Dick
by Melville
The Prince by Macchiavelli
and…my favorite book of all time: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marquez

From Studenti.it

As the students recount, it was a spontaneous process started one November afternoon at the University. Each student proposed titles of books;they wanted to represent that ‘ culture is the only defence against a government who wants to demolish it’.

Gian Mario Anselmi, professor of Italian Literature at the University of Bologna says: : “These kids used culture as shield, our true and only identity. We defend ourselves with classical texts. The titles they chose are incredibly diverse, fruit of who knows what advice and suggestion, but it does not matter. It is the smbol that matters. And on these shields told of utopia, history, courage and love.”
The Book Block protest plans to make an appearance again on December 14 in Rome.

The writer Roberto Saviano, in his open letter to the newspaper ‘La Repubblica’ –written to condemn the violence emerged in some recent student revolts –praises ‘intellectual’ and creative demonstrations such as the ‘Book Bloc’. He writes:
‘C’era allegria nei ragazzi che avevano avuto l’idea dei Book Block, i libri come difesa, che vogliono dire crescita, presa di coscienza. Vogliono dire che le parole sono lì a difenderci, che tutto parte dai libri, dalla scuola, dall’istruzione… La testa serve per pensare, non per fare l’ariete. I book block mi sembrano una risposta meravigliosa a chi in tuta nera si dice anarchico senza sapere cos’è l’anarchismo neanche lontanamente.’
The kids who had the idea of th ‘Book Block’ did so in good spirit, books as defense, books that signify growth, self-awareness. Books are there to say words come to our defense, that everything starts with books, school, learning…Your head is there for you to think , not to use it as a battering ram. I think the Book Blocs are a wonderful answer to those who call themselves anarchic, wearing black overalls, without even knowing what anarchy even means.’

As I was preparing this post, I collected these quotes and thoughts on revolution and books:

Promise yourself to live your life as a revolution and not just a process of evolution.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.
— Gustave Flaubert

“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it”
— Gustave Flaubert

“The poet or the revolutionary is there to articulate the necessity, but until the people themselves apprehend it, nothing can happen … Perhaps it can’t be done without the poet, but it certainly can’t be done without the people. The poet and the people get on generally very badly, and yet they need each other. The poet knows it sooner than the people do. The people usually know it after the poet is dead; but that’s all right. The point is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world.”
— James Baldwin

“The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletariat to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeoisie.”
— Gustave Flaubert

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
Gustave Flaubert

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A rare Renée Magritte. La Poitrine. 1961

Renée Magritte. Irene.

Renée Magritte. Le tombeur des lutteurs. 1960

Renee Magritte. Eulogy of the Dialectic.

Renée Magritte. Personal Values. 1952

In my search, I stumbled upon Myriam Mahiques, who shares some thoughts on Magritte, and Immateriality in Painting and Architecture.

Instances of Surrealist Architecture and Urban Design:

Click on the images for more details and to see source.

"39GeorgeV" is an urban surrealism manifesto. It sheltered the renovation of an Hausmannian building in Paris, during year 2007. It's a life-size photographic work based on the original building, printed on canvas, enhanced with bas-relief.

The Manifesto of the 39GeorgeV project.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. Installation of the new Magritte Museum 2008/09

From the exhibition:Painting the Glass House: Artists Revisit Modern Architecture.The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum,Ridgefield, CT.

“]“]

Frankfurt's Bockenheimer Warte Subway Station. From '10 Of The World’s Most Impressive Subway Stations'

Iphone painting by Steve John.

Son Of Mac. Magritte-inspired Apple Macbook art vinyl decal.

Magritte-ispired art vinyl decal for Apple Macbook.

Book : Surrealism and Architecture edited by Thomas Mical



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