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Monday, 30 September 2013

Parisian style

Thursday, September 30th., Villa des Nefliers.

After much rain an exquisite morning. The views of the Seine as I came up to Paris were exceedingly romantic. I came without sketchbook, and my first desire was to sketch. So I had to buy a book. 

Farman aeroplane 1909
Marguerite and I then went to the Aviation Exposition at the Grand Palais. Startled by the completeness of the trade organisation of aviation; even to suits for aviators, and rolls of stuffs for 'planes, We first remarked the Farman aeroplane. Vast, and as beautiful as a yacht. Same kind of beauty. Yet a new creation of form, a new 'style'; that is newly stylistic. I had been reading Wilbur Wright's accounts of his earlier experiments as I came up in the train, and I wanted to write a story of an aviator, giving the sensations of flight. 

In 1909 the first Air Show was held at the Grand Palais. The "Exposition internationale de locomotion aérienne" ushered in what was to become an enduring tradition. Every year, the aircraft exhibitions were a massive success. The presence of so many hot-air balloons, aeroplanes, and airships earned the Nave the nickname of "birdcage". One aircraft was the star of the show at the Grand Palais, the Blériot type XI with which the aviator Louis Blériot made the first successful flight across the English Channel.
This was the first Air Show at the Grand Palais. The interior design by André Granet, who since his youth had been fascinated by flying, was such a success that the Automobile-Club subsequently commissioned Granet to do the same for the car shows. The critic Louis Baudry De Saunier described the scene thus in the magazine L'Illustration: "Airborne mechanical locomotion, with its mysterious problems and future revolutions, could not fail to arouse the enthusiasm of the crowd. Never have so many thronged to the Grand Palais; police officers had to form a cordon to restrain the sea of visitors around these pieces of wood and canvas with which Wright had played at being a bird". 

I left Marguerite and went to the Salon d'Automne. But I found it was the vernissage and so I didn't enter. Crowds entering.

My first vague impression was here at last defined, of Paris. namely the perversity and corruption of the faces. The numbers of women more or less chic also impressed me. A few, marvellous. It was ideal Paris weather. I saw what a beautiful city it is, again. The beauty of this city existence and its environment appealed to me strongly. Yet the journey from the Gare de Lyon on the Metro. had seemed horrible. Also, I had waited outside the bureau de location of the Francais for it to open, and had watched the faces there, which made me melancholy. Particularly a woman of 60 or so, and her virgin daughter 30 or 33. The latter with a complexion spoilt, and a tremendously bored expression, which changed into a mannered, infantile, school-girlish, self-conscious, uneasy smile, when a punctilious old gentleman came up and saluted and chatted. The fading girl's gums all showed. She was a sad sight. I would have preferred to see her initiated and corrupt. She was being worn out by time, not by experience. The ritual and sterility and futility of her life had devitalised her. The mother was making a great fuss about changing some tickets. This ticket-changing had a most genuine importance for her. The oldish girl, mutely listening, kept her mouth at the mannered smile for long periods. But I think she was not essentially a fool. 

1 comment:

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