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Les Journaux

Art and music news from the European press.

From the Department of Contemporary French Artists I've Never Heard Of, Harry Bellet has a review of a new exhibit (A Tours, la peinture au féminin pluriel de Thurnauer, January 17) for Le Monde: Agnès Thurnauer. At the Lyon Biennale in 2005, she distributed badges that feminized the first names of famous artists of the 20th century ("Jacqueline" Pollock, "Marcelle" Duchamp, "Danielle" Buren). In this new show, Francine Picabia, at the Centre de création contemporaine in Tours (through February 24), she builds on that idea, including female artists' names masculinized (like "Louis" Bourgeois). The badges now appear painted on large-scale canvases, floating in white space. The question of artistic identity is also present in a series based on fashion photography, in which the work of individual photographers is lost in the sameness of images. Thurnauer presents four paintings of the same subject by amateur painters, with a space for an ad slogan left blank.

Violinist Renaud Capuçon has premiered the new violin concerto of French composer Karol Beffa (b. 1973), with the Orchestre national du Capitole in Toulouse. Marie-Aude Roux was there to review it (Beau concerto de Beffa à Toulouse, January 19) for Le Monde, and she says it is easy on the ears: "Melodic writing with clean lyricism, refined, post-impressionistic orchestration, contemplative consonance. Capuçon's violin, in colors of a voluptuous sobriety, sang a 30-minute aria."

The Florentines are thinking of moving Michelangelo's David out of the Accademia, as reported (Tuscan official proposes moving Michelangelo's David to reduce tourism in heart of Florence, January 17) by the Associated Press. I managed to see the sculpture this summer -- pay for a reservation if you go -- and was shocked yet again by the volume of tourists in Florence. We made several trips there and were always very happy to go back to Siena. The plan being proposed is to exhibit David in a new space at the city's edge, near the stadium. It would probably move far more people to relocate all of the fashion shops outside the city's historic center.

One of my favorite operas, Rameau's Castor et Pollux, has been staged by De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam, with Christophe Rousset conducting. George Loomis reviewed it (Rameau's Baroque opera 'Castor et Pollux' revived in Amsterdam, January 17) for the International Herald Tribune: "After extended debate over who will live and who will die, the brothers are eternally united by being transformed into the constellation Gemini. The sets of the new production, Audi explained, pick up on the transformation by depicting a stylized version of the constellation. 'We have aimed for a 21st-century baroque style, with scenery going up and down - interpretively modernized but not updated'." Bravo to Artistic Director Pierre Audi (who also worked with Rousset on Rameau's Zoroastre at Drottningholm, for daring to make it happen! Hopefully, they will release a DVD.

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