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Les Journaux

More cultural bits from reading the French newspapers.

One of the odder and, ironically, more successful public artworks is the set of black and white striped columns in the courtyard of the Palais Royal in Paris, designed by Daniel Buren and installed in 1986, on what used to be a parking lot. The piece was violently attacked at the time but has remained as a curiosity for passing tourists (at night, the piece is illuminated with a strange green light), without the state undertaking any effort to provide for its upkeep. For the last several years, Buren himself has demanded a restoration of the columns and, finally despairing of that, he has now called for the work to be destroyed rather than allow it to exist in such a poor state. Marie-Douce Albert examines the plans to restore the Palais Royal, including the Buren columns (Le plan de l'État pour sauver les colonnes de Buren, December 28) in Le Figaro. The columns will be part of the general refurbishment of the Palais Royal, scheduled through 2011.

Again in Paris, the Grand Palais is celebrating the 70th birthday of the Société nationale des chemins de fer (SNCF), the national train company of France, created on January 1, 1938. The exhibition in the nave of the Grand Palais brings together examples of actual trains with works of art inspired by trains. The show is on view through January 6, at which point the trains will travel, with the art inside them, to be shown in 18 French cities through the end of January. See the review (Le Grand Palais se transforme en gare SNCF, December 21) by Marie-Douce Albert in Le Figaro.

Anne-Marie Romero reports (Un village néolithique en Périgord, December 17) in Le Figaro on a major anthropological discovery. A neolithic village has been uncovered near Bergerac, with the remains of 15 to 18 houses inhabited at some point between 3500 and 3000 B.C. "Nothing spectacular" found yet, but the houses are all built according to the same plan, about 15 to 25 meters long and 4 to 5 meters wide, with evidence of an A-frame sort of roof.

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