Culture Diary — An insider art trail to Paris this spring

The contemporary art scene is always a good reason to visit Paris. We have asked our art curator friends what to see now and have added bon vivant stops along the way.

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Zanele Muholi
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
Until 21st May 2023

If, like us, you missed this retrospective at the Tate Modern, there is still a chance to see it. Zanele Muholi, who is South African, uses photography and video to raise awareness of injustices against the Black LGBTQIA+ community. The self-portraits are strikingly beautiful and thought provoking, while other works tell stories of often overlooked and misrepresented individuals.

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Azzedine Alaïa, Arthur Elgort. Freedom.
Fondation Azzedine Alaïa
Until 20th August 2023

Glorious images of Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell at the beginning of their career can be seen in the original studio of the beloved couturier. These photographs are testament to a carefree and dynamic time in the history of fashion and almost 40 years later demonstrate the timelessness of Alaïa’s talent. There is something truly endearing and playful in shoots of the designer with models who were also his friends.

While in le Marais, we recommend a stop at Café Partisan, 36 rue de Turbigo for their artisan coffee and expert blends. Méert, 16 rue Elzévir will provide delicious nibbles in the shape of vanilla waffles they have been crafting since 1849, among an abundance of sweet treats that make exquisite presents to bring home. We also love their selection of teas, sold in smart black caddies with kitsch illustrations (Thé de la Parisienne is a favourite).

Head to Parcelles for creative cuisine du terroir using traditional French produce and a serious wine list, or to Carboni’s for an Italian alternative.

Hotel Sookie is a pleasing addition to hotels in the neighbourhood. Expect a warm welcome, vintage furniture and small but cosy rooms. For a more indulgent experience, try Hotel des Arts et Métiers. It offers wellness treatments that could be precious after a day of trailing art galleries.

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1. Parcelles
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2. Hotel Sookie
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The Parabola of History, Bernar Venet
Place Vendôme
Until 30th April 2023

In conjunction with the exhibition Diffeomorphism and Discontinuity on show at Perrotin Marais, a majestic installation made using Corten steel graces the cobblestones of this typically grand Parisian square. Accessible and intriguing, the sculptures contrast with their luxurious and established surroundings.

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Philippe Cognée
Musée de l’Orangerie
Until 4th September 2023

Cognée’s interpretations of Monet’s Water Lilies use melted wax on top of the picture to create a blurring and distorting effect. They are the perfect excuse, if one was needed, to see the original masterpieces offered by Monet to the French State on the day that followed the Armistice of 11th November 1918, as a symbol for peace.

Have breakfast or lunch in the lavish décor of Café Lapérouse. This is perhaps a more maximalist recommendation than our usual taste, but we actually enjoyed the over the top appeal and exhilarating atmosphere. It is exciting and quite magical to dine in the building that used to house the furniture of royal residences such as Versailles.

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Ma pensée sérielle, Miriam Cahn
Palais de Tokyo
Until 14th May 2023

This mixed media show is the occasion to discover Cahn’s unique oeuvre from 1980 to the present day. Large paintings invite the viewer to immerse themselves in the world’s intensity and chaos while smaller formats allow for a creative cluster. This is art that challenges and disturbs, opening conversations about geopolitics and the voice of artists in today’s society. You may want to make the most of Palais de Tokyo’s late opening times and visit at cocktail hour.

Follow the exhibition with dinner at the excellent and sophisticated Monsieur Bleu within the Palais de Tokyo, where you can catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower or take a stroll along the Seine until you reach Radioeat and feast on humble coquillettes au jambon (small curled pasta dressed with truffle cream and ham). Both these restaurants are also perfect brunch spots.

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1. Monsieur Bleu
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2. Radioeat