Tonight was the preview of the exhibit "Les Parisiennes," a retrospective of works by Edmond Kiraz at the Musée Carnavalet. These perky Parisian Barbie Dolls so dear to the artist's twinkling eye are shown in stylish skimpy outfits in amusing vignettes, doing what some Parisiennes do best: sipping coffee, shopping, bicycling, suffering through a boring dinner with maman and papa. Checking out the guys. And carrying weightless shopping bags, pocketbooks and birdcages: lightweight is a key theme.
It's a fun exhibit, frivolous and frothy as the frill on the lingerie of the subjects. As sweet and lo-cal as Candarel (the French version of Splenda), the ads of which are also on display. Ditto for the Kiraz Perrier ads and the lasses depicted therein -- effervescent and bubbly.
Many of the original gouaches have witty captions underneath (in French). A classic in any country: "My closet is overflowing and I don't have a thing to wear. Try explaining that to a man."
But my favorite quintessentially parisienne of the cute, silly captions was a young beauty saying hastily to a perfume-store sales clerk: "Don't bother wrapping it; it's for seducing someone right away." Looking beyond the store window in the painting, you see a policeman ticketing the young mademoiselle's car.
Of course one of the joys is of visiting this exhibit is simply being at the Musée Carnavalet itself -- the museum of the city of Paris. The Kiraz retrospective is certainly worth a detour, if only for tasting a fluffy slice of recent contemporary culture. The Parisiennes in this exhibit are not exactly reading Nietzsche or discussing globalization or analyzing Proust. So the girls who populate Kiraz's world, while appealing in their own right, really only represent one small sliver -- albeit a delicious sliver -- of the Parisienne population. Hmmm. Maybe in that case they ought to change the title to "Des Parisiennes."
Les Parisiennes de Kiraz
May 14 - September 21, 2008
23 rue de Sevigné
Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 am to 6 pm