Maxim's in Paris serves up Art Nouveau

12th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 11 (AFP) - Pierre Cardin, the French fashion icon, this week unveils priceless pieces of Art Nouveau collected over decades and now to be shown in a museum covering two floors of his Maxim's restaurant.

PARIS, Oct 11 (AFP) - Pierre Cardin, the French fashion icon, this week unveils priceless pieces of Art Nouveau collected over decades and now to be shown in a museum covering two floors of his Maxim's restaurant.  

Officially opening Friday, the exhibition of several hundred items includes some of the finest pieces of cutlery, furniture, porcelain, statues, glassware and lamps produced by the Art Nouveau school around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.  

Among the highlights is a set of tableware specially made for Gustave Eiffel while he worked on building the Eiffel Tower, a Toulouse Lautrec drawing and a set of silver brushes, combs and mirrors once owned by actress Sarah Bernhardt.  

There is glassware by Galle, Gaudi-era furniture from Spain, Tiffany silver, glass by Daum and the elaborate twisted metalwork and stunning marquetry of French cabinet-maker Majorelle.

Majorelle's work was quintessentially Art Nouveau, with its intricate writhing plants, until he moved on to the more geometric forms of Art Deco.  

Originally home to the sultry courtesans of the risque late 19th century Paris circles frequented by Britain's rakish Edward VII, Maxim's went on in later years to become the epitome of high society French elegance and is now a city landmark.  

"I wanted to show Maxim's as it was in 1900 by exhibiting objects from 1900," Cardin told AFP. "I spent 60 years building up the collection."  

Cardin, who bought the legendary 1893 restaurant a quarter of a century ago, collected enough Majorelle furniture from the period to put together several Belle Epoque "courtesan" bedrooms, one complete with bathroom.  

"In those days, interiors were over-decorated and crammed full of things," he said.  

The still-sprightly 82-year-old couturier himself accumulated so many pieces from the period that opening a museum set out like a 1900s apartment seemed inevitable.  

"No-one in Paris has a collection like this," he said, showing off rows of vases each featuring the shape of a woman. "In 1900 women were the inspiration. They were adored, idealised and romanticised as you can see in these pieces."  

To underline Maxim's origins, Cardin plans to reintroduce the "cafe-concert" in the evenings, bringing in singers for 1900s-style events.  

The museum will be open from October 15, with 60-minute visits with a guide for groups of 20 at a cost of EUR 15. Cardin also plans to offer guided tours accompanied by lunch for EUR 110 per head.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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