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I've come across some interesting stuff the past couple days, none of which really merits a long post, so I'm just throwing it all out there together. First, from the Department of Cultural Whimsy, in an article (Les rues d'Annecy résonnent de textes poétiques ou politiques, January 16) in Le Monde, Catherine Bédarida reported on a quirky sort of festival in the town of Annecy:

To get to know Comment aimer [How to love], you have to let yourself wander the streets of old Annecy. At the Café du Cygne, through the little shopping streets, inside an apartment, actors are making heard the poetry of American Stacy Doris. For five days, the [theater troupe] Scène nationale d'Annecy is offering about ten readings as part of its "Inédits" [Undiscovered] series. The readings—a sort of entertainment that is growing in popularity in France—most often serve as a way to present new texts, freshly issued from the author's printer or by foreign authors little known in France.
The "happenings" described in the article are strange and fun, most of them attended by an audience of young people, happy to take advantage of the free admission, dancing, drinking, and thinking about art and words into the wee hours.

In the world of art auctions, there has been interesting news. Souren Melikian (In Paris, the Battle of the Auctions: Christie's Rising, in the International Herald Tribune on January 17) reports on the increasing dominance of Christie's new Paris house over French houses like Tajan and Drouot. There was some coverage of the report that the J. H. Whitney private collection of paintings would be auctioned at Sotheby's in New York on May 5 (Carol Vogel, Famed Whitney Collection of Art Is on the Block, in the New York Times on January 15). The prize of this collection, Picasso's stunningly beautiful Rose period painting Boy with a Pipe (1905), is expected to sell for at least $70 million. Although I wanted to see a list of all 44 paintings to be auctioned (to benefit the Greentree Foundation, I could only find this gallery of highlights.

There are some cool Web resources (in French) from Le Monde: one on George Sand and one on Prosper Mérimée (see post on August 6). I cannot give you a direct link: go here and follow the links under "Revues de Web." Le Figaro also has a feature on George Sand (it's the 200th anniversary of her birth this year). Also, the 2001 special issue of Le Point devoted to Victor Hugo is available online.

Finally, if you want a good laugh, read Dave Barry's article (A Chance for Amateurs to Mumble 'Huh?', January 17), published by the Miami Herald and carried by the International Herald Tribune. (We also love Dave's blog.) This is ostensibly a review of one part of the Art Basel show in Miami Beach (the main show was reviewed by Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes last month: you have to scroll through the page), but it is really a chance to poke fun at modern art:
A lot of Serious Art consists of bizarre or startlingly unattractive objects, or "performances" wherein artists do something Conceptual, such as squirt Cheez Whiz into an orifice that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for snack toppings. But no matter what the art is, a Serious Art Person will view it with the somber expression of a radiologist examining X-rays of a tumor. Whereas an amateur will eventually give himself away by laughing, or saying "Huh?" or (this is the most embarrassing) asking an art-gallery person: "Is this wastebasket a piece of art? Or can I put my gum wrapper in it?"
We at Ionarts hope we are not Serious Art People, and if we are, we promise to lighten up.

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