Thursday, 23 April 2009

Paris' most impressive (and gay-friendly) church

Now there's a title for you. Never thought I'd be writing that one, but as it happens there's an arts event currently happening in Paris called La Force de l'Art (lots of info about that here on the Paris Newsblog that I also contribute to) which includes an installation in the Saint-Eustache church in Les Halles, five minutes from the apartment.

I admit I haven't been back in there for about a decade, although I go past it all the time. However the new installation by photographers Pierre et Gilles - their first Madonna and child - was my excuse to pop in... and I was wowed!

The church is - to my mind - as stunning as Notre Dame, with a dizzyingly high ceiling and some wonderful painted details, some of which have been marvellously restored.

I was intrigued however about how and/or why a conspicuously (not to say notoriously) gay couple were invited to expose their work in a church. It turns out that Saint-Eustache is a particularly gay-friendly parish with a keen interest in modern art.

The installation itself is quite interesting, with the main photo presented in scaffolding with throbbing orange roadwork lights and neon strip lights around it. At its base are car parts, echoing the photo itself...

Ignoring the fact that the Madonna is in a Christian Lacroix dress, it's an imposing piece and the couple's first to be shown in a place of worship. Although a lot of their work contains religious imagery treated in various ways, some of their other stuff is much more - as we say in French - olé olé, and showing the photo here is a bold move that can be interpreted as fairly open-minded (i.e. gay friendly).

Walking round the rest of the church, I was soon to find out that this is not the only modern (gay) art there. It's also home to "Altar Piece" by Keith Haring, one of nine examples that are exhibited around the world (others are to be found in the Whitney Museum in New York, the Contemporary Art museum in Hiroshima, etc.) donated by the Spirit Foundation founded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was Keith Haring's wish that one of his pieces be exposed in Paris, and this was one of the last he created.

I'm not a churchgoing man myself, but Saint-Eustache has many other extraordinary sights to offer, and as it's just down the road from the apartment you really should check it out.

You'll find more photos of our look round in the Flickr gallery here. Walking map of how to get there at the end of this post.

1 commentaires:

Pearly Queen said...

...and La Droguerie is almost next door...