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Cafe as a laboratory of art

Cafe as a laboratory of art. Paris 2001. I. The rationale of the topic “ Café as a laboratory of art” Artists need creativity in their art making. It is necessary for them to exchange their ideas. From their biography, it states that they would choose

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Cafe as a laboratory of art

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  1. Cafe as a laboratory of art Paris 2001

  2. I. The rationale of the topic “ Café as a laboratory of art” Artists need creativity in their art making. It is necessary for them to exchange their ideas. From their biography, it states that they would choose café as their place to exchange ideas. They would not go there regularly but they went there for informal meetings. They could meet different kinds of people who had various background such as politicians, artists, musicians, poetries, and factory workers etc and talking with them so that it could develop their knowledge base and live experiences. Those experiences could enrich the content of their artwork. In short, to explore more about the café culture and recognize the role of café in Paris. This can help us to understand how the art party is constructed.

  3. II. The history of three famous Cafés in Paris: Café Deux Magots Café de Flore Au Lapin Agile

  4. A. Café Deux Magots: Café Deux Magots is located in St-Germain-des-pres and opened in 1885. In this area there are two famous cafés named Café de Flore and Brasserie Lipp also. The logo of Café Deux Magots is the sculptures of the two Chinese officers of Qing dynasty. However, the reason of why this café becomes famous is not related to these sculptures.

  5. The history of Café Deux Magots In the early 20th century, few young men like Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, Picasso, Joan Milo, Man Ray, and Max Ernst always gathered in this café. Few years later (1921), French poetry Breton (1896-1936) announced the declaration of Surrealism. Such ideas were well spread in Europe, North and South America and the rest of Asia rapidly. The spreading of such new ideas were not only influenced literature, drama, poem, painting and movie, but also the thinking style and behavior among people at that time.

  6. B. Café de Flore: Opposite to the Café Deux Magots, there is another famous café in Paris, is called Café de Flore. It opened in 1865. Since the beginning of 20th century Café de Flore and contemporary literature could not be separated.

  7. During 1930-1939, Sartre used to come and work there as his studio. He was a poor teacher at that time. He usually went to this café and sat at the corner on the second floor with Simone de Beauvoir. They often went there for writing and exchanging their ideas. Hence, there were many of their main philosophies were born. These kinds of ideas influenced the idea of Existentialism and Femalism. Art, literature and philosophy were influenced at the same time. The web site of Café de Flore: http://www.cafe-de-flore.com/ Pierre Brasseur, J.P Sartre

  8. C. Au Lapin Agile: The logo of this café is a rabbit. It was painted by Andre Gill. The boss, Pere Frede changed the name from Lapin A Gill to Lapin Agile. In 1904, Pablo Picasso moved to Paris and lived in Le Bateau Lavoir in Montmartre. He lived with a poetry, Max Jacob and they shared one bed only. So, Picasso painted under soft light when Max Jacob slept. This affected his colour and the style of painting at that time. Au Lapin Agile

  9. III. The reasons of why the Parisians come to café: By the observation and interview of customers and the owner of the café, Parisians going to café is part of their live. They went there for relaxing, meeting friends, inspiring ideas and looking the passerby.

  10. Relaxing: Parisians are very busy. They would spend much time in relaxing after working. Sitting outside the café is one of their choices. They would go to the cafe in a specific time. Moreover, Parisians are different from Hong Konger. They would not spend much time on watching television. According to the observations, the topic of the television programs is mainly about homosexual and most of them are dull. It may not attract French. One of the interviewers said he didn’t like watching TV in his leisure time because of the low standard of the television programs.

  11. Meeting friends: According to those interviews, it shows that cafe is the place for informal meetings. Many different kinds of people with various background would go to café for meeting friends. They no need to have appointments with their friends but they will meet in the café.

  12. Inspiration: Just like the tradition, artists, musicians and writers get used to come to café for inspiriting ideas. They will observe and talk with people around just like one of our interviewer, Khalil, he is a surgeon but he is also a writer. The day we met him in Café de Flore, he was observing the passerby and trying to write some draft. He told us that he liked going to Café de Flore because of its historical atmosphere and the passerby outside could inspire him a lot.

  13. Looking the passerby: Not only the artists and writers enjoy looking the passerby, but also a simple Parisian does. When sitting in the café, it is easy to see the passerby coming and going through the glass windows. There are beggars, drivers, hawkers, people who are in a hurry and street performers. When we graze on it, it just like showing a drama or a movie without any script, and the best place of watching this movie is the café beside the streets. That’s why French are willing to spend a lot of time on sitting in the café.

  14. IV. The role of café in promoting and expressing culture in Paris: 1. Spreading new ideas: As what we have mentioned above, Paris cafés played as an essential place for spreading new ideas. In the past, Artists, writers, and musicians come to café as an informal meeting. They come to the cafes consciously, they talk with people around and some little debates and sharing would be carried out. Every activity related to art, literature and philosophy were informal. As time goes by, such informal meetings became regular. Like nowadays, Café de Flore has its regular meetings, on each first Monday, Tuesday in a month, and the last Thursday in a month, there are different topics of debate and sharing in Café de Flore, such as Philosophy, poem reading and geography.

  15. 2. The café has became a place for tourists visiting rather than a place for artists to share their ideas: According to the owner of the Café Deux Magots, she mentioned that there are many tourists come to her café especially in summer. Tourists who come from all over the world would go to her cafe because of its historical background. There are also local people like artist, musicians, writers, film stars and officers etc come to her café as well. Other than what the owner of the café told us, we can also observe this phenomenon. There are many people with different nationality such as Canadians, Chinese and Americans in the cafe. Some of the customers read New York Times but not Le Monde (French newspaper). Also, tourists go there just for its historical background but not in the literature or art aspect.

  16. 3.The format of artistic meetings has been changed: In the past, the artistic meetings were flexible. People could discuss any topics they were interested in and the format was not restricted. The group size of the discussion was not limited. People could join any of them whenever they want to. If you were only interested in the art or literature things, you could go to café and discussed with people who had the same interest as you everyday. Comparing with the meeting nowadays, it is totally different. Topics are fixed. People have to follow the schedule of the café to attend the discussion. As the discussion is opened to the public, the group size must not be a small group like the past.Towards 1913, when the surrealism was not well known, in Café de Flore, Apollinaire besieged the place. With Salmon, they transformed the first floor into a newspaper office:“ les soirees de Paris ” (Paris evenings), a review was born. This tradition was until now. A magazine called ‘revue Oeil de Boeuf’ is born there. The director will have regularly meetings once a month in Les Deux Magots. He also will put his magazine there for free.

  17. 4. Living style has changed: According to our observations, we hardly see young generation in the cafes we went to. Most customers there aged over thirty. What is the reason lead to this phenomenon? In contrast, we often see youngsters gather in fast food shops like McDonald’s. With pop music surround the eating areas and the reasonable prize (a cup of coffee sold in Café de Flore is 28F which is the same as the price of a McDonald’s combo there), they would choose there for gathering rather than going to café. They play roller skit, skit bike and skit board on the streets at Palais Royal as well. There are no longer can find young people have a discussion in Café de Flore, Café Deux Magots and other cafés, such aspects seems as an old fashion tradition to the youth.

  18. VI. Conclusion: Technology is changing our live everyday without noticed. Half century ago, movies showed in the cinema are black and white, but nowadays everything become digital. On the other hand, the youth in the past are willing to go to café, but this tradition has been totally changed nowadays. There are cinemas which show different countries’ movies every week; there are many different styles of Disco, pubs and bars in Paris. All of them are more attractive to the youth nowadays rather than the cafés do.

  19. People used to talk with others in cafés in the past but nowadays the communication technology is well developed such as telephones and Internet. It seems that there is unnecessary for the youth to go to the cafés for joining ‘the informal meeting’. Therefore, the identity of cafés in Paris starts to change. For the cafés which have their special historical background, like Café de Flore, Café Deux Magots, they no longer to play a role as the culture center as many years ago. As a result, they become the tourist spot and a historical place for the old generations to seek for their own memories. For other cafés in Paris, they have transformation. Computers are installed in the café; there is no more philosophical or artistic debate and discussion, but replaced by some little concerts which hold by local bands.

  20. This phenomenon also appears in the contemporary art. From the experience of visiting different museum, Museum d’ Orssay, Modern Art Museum and Pompidou Center, we can observe that ‘basic skill’ of creating art making are changed rapidly in the past three century.

  21. In Museum d’Ossay , there are a lot of masterpieces of impressionism. It shows that drawing, crafting, sculpture are the most common way of art malking. Therefore, the ‘basic skill’ at that time should be the skill of drawing like prospective and how to practice visual elements in their artwork. But after we visited Pomidou center, we found that some artworks were presented in the form of multi media. That means the ‘basic skill’ has been changed into how to control the new media just like photography and film, and the ‘basic skill’, which needed by the artwork of modern art museum have big difference from what the people practiced on the artwork before. There are not only multi media be practiced in art work but also some modern elements, such as different character tic of glasses, plastic, digital video, etc. From the example above, we can recognize that there is a trend of changing the need of ‘basis skill’ in the modern art making. It changes to the combination of the art and the technology. Basic skill is no longer the technique of painting. It converts to the use of computer. There is computer art exists like the animation and 3D painting.

  22. Everything changes in every minute. The function of Café is changed because it has to suit the trend of the society. If it made no changes to suit the new trend, it maybe just a place for the tourist to visit and a historical place for the old generations to seek their memories. In the Art aspect, we can use the technology to assist our art making, say, if we want to finish a big size painting, we can use the technique of computer and printing technique. Then, we can save much time and to explorer more feelings to inspire and enrich our thinking. For acquiring those basic skills for contemporary art making, we have to open our mind to the new things in our surrounding which changes constantly. We need to accept new things and try to make the connection with different material and ideas. We need to observe and try out different things frequently just like the art work that we saw in the Modern Art Museum, such as the one which shows the dog bits a skit board. The artists used at least three kinds of material in the art making. If the artist has not observed and tested the material carefully, he would not use those unrelated material together.

  23. VII. Reference: The summary of interview The meeting schedule of Café de Flore

  24. The summary of interviews i-iii Café de Flore Les Deux Magots i-iii i Au Lapin Agile i

  25. Interview in the Café de Flore: • A man who is a chairman of one company likes going to the Café de Flore after work so that he can relax and enjoy his life. He used to go there over twenty years. He goes there once a week and he usually spends two hours there. He told us that there ‘s a place for informal meetings among politics and artists etc. The reason why he has this habit for such a long time is that not only the café is well known, but also it ‘s the right place for meeting friends, social gatherings and relaxing under this particular and comfortable environment. • We also had an interview with a writer who was a soldier. He chooses this café because he can inspire his ideas while sitting at the corner which is faced to the street. He has been to this café for around twenty years. He goes there twice a week and spends two to three hours every day. He said that he wouldn’t go to another café whatever how closed it was. He has a special feeling to this particular café.

  26. Interview in the Café de Flore: • iii. Another man we have talked to was retired. He went to this café for more than forty years. He goes there twice a week. He spends two hours there with his dog. It is the place where he met his wife. Though his wife died two years ago, he still goes there for relaxing and recalling his memories. Every time he will go with his dog because it ‘s the pet dog of his wife and they would go to the café with it. He still keeps this dog as a company and as the memory of his wife.

  27. B) Interview in the Les Deux Magots: • We also had an interview with a Russian who works for the United Nation. He has been to this café for twenty years. He comes to this café three times a week. He will spend time on reading newspaper there or meeting friends. We agree that he knows much about the history of this café. He believes that this cafe is for higher status people to come. He likes the environment there but not the seats in comparing with the Cafe de Flore. In the winter, he will sit outside because it is warmer under the sun. • ii. We had an interview with a Japanese who also works for the United Nation. She has been in Paris for several months. She comes to this café three months a time. She also has the habit of going to café in Tokyo. She mentioned that cafes in Tokyo and Paris are not the same. Most Japanese would only spend few minutes in the café and then go to work. The purpose of going to café is for drinking café. In Paris, the main purpose of going to café is for relaxing.

  28. B) Interview in the Les Deux Magots: iii. We had an interview with the owner of this café as well. She is Catherine. She told us that the history of this café and it is her family business. There’s also one café in Tokyo. There’re no big changes in the interior decoration and the menu from the past. She said most of her customers are tourists especially in the summer, there ‘re almost 50 % of customers are tourists. As there‘s a long history of her café, many different kind of people who have different background and nationality will come to her café.

  29. C) Interview in the Au Lapin Agile:  i. A man who is unemployed for several months also likes going to café. He said that he used to visit café twice a week for 10 years when he had a job in a small supermarket. Whereas his habit needs to change in once a week, even 10 days a time since he had lost his job. For earning his live, he sometimes uses a saxophone to have musical performance on the street. And he likes sitting in the café by himself, not for meeting but only for looking people who walking around. It can let him think of something about philosophy. Besides, he would love the atmosphere of such café, it gives him a steady and comfortable feeling.

  30. The meeting schedule of Café de Flore: Monday (Theatre): Reading of theatre plays in English and in French each Monday evening. Tuesday (Femme 3000) [Women 3000] Each first Tuesday of each month, at 6:30pm, on the second floor of the famous Café, ‘women 3000’ organizes a debate and invites all the women who want to participate in. Wednesday (Philosophers) The café of philosophers Come and join us on the first Wednesday of each month to participate in the debates and in the discussion on carious items. Tuesday (Geography) The Geographical cafes Each last Tuesday of each month, the Geographical Cafes besiege the café de Flore for parties of a new style.

  31. The End

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