Suzy Solidor – Cabaret Legend

« She was brash, » Claudie remembers, reviewing her childhood memories.  Suzy Solidor, legendary cabaret performer, with hard-hitting revues, was born in 1900 and she established herself in Paris in the early-1930s.  With an androgynous image, she performed songs that were sensual, equivocal and daring, working with the likes of  Edith Piaf and Charles Trénet. She has been called “an alchemist with words”.  She moved to Cagne-sur-Mer in the Côte d’Azur in 1960.

The Vidal-Quadras portrait 1958

The Vidal-Quadras portrait 1958

What intrigues me about her is the number of portraits of her that there are.  I stood in the hall of her portraits at Chateau Grimaldi.  There are 54 in the catalogue and 49 on display.  But this is deceptive:  it is incredible to discover that this collection is only a part of the total, some 224 portraits of her!  This is apart from the hundreds of photo portraits, amongst them, several by Man Ray.  It is like viewing a history of styles.  Most of the portraits at the Château are oils which she bequeathed to the museum in 1973.  The artists include Cocteau, Dufy and Van Dongen.  What stood out for me is the portrait done by Tamara de Lempicka in 1933, probably the most striking deco portrait I’ve seen.

The Tamara Lempicka portrait 1933

The Tamara Lempicka portrait 1933

Notable too, is the sculpture of Suzy done by Marie-Pascale Deleun in 1983, the year of her death.

Sculpture

Sculpture

 I find myself curious as to how she related to these portraits.  Did she pore over them, like the king counting his gold sovereigns?  Do we smugly judge her to be narcissistic?  Perhaps we can say with some irony that her obsession with her own image has become our enrichment.

Poster for film late-1930s

Poster for film late-1930s

Janvier, 2013

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Image Sources: Drawing and some notes from publicity pamphlet; www.terminators.com; www.starok.com and image by Will

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Parc Phoenix, Nice

It is a place that makes you want to scamper around like a child and explore intriguing nooks, hide from friends and make discoveries  –   a park geared for the enjoyment of children, a place of fountains, foliage, trees, rocks, pathways and peace.  On the one side you see the striking backdrop of l’Arenas, the skyscraper showcase of post-modern architecture.  On the other, the beginning of the Promenade des Anglais, and beyond it, the sea.

Parc Phoenix

Parc Phoenix

At a menagerie under the umbrella pines, there are kangaroos, ostriches, owls and seals, the latter diving in a glass tank.  There is also a hothouse of exotic plants, a steaming rainforest, towering above the landscape of trees.

Hothouse, Parc Phoenix

Hothouse, Parc Phoenix

Exotic plants

Exotic plants

Adjoining the hothouse, with its playful, even ironical, block of Inca ruins, there is a huge display hall looking like an aeroplane hangar.  Along the walls was an exhibition of ink-on-tiles graphics by Gérard-Philippe Séllès, treated photographs of cracks in pavements, cement surfaces and so on.  Each one was something I could live with, elegantly rough and striking.

A graphic by Séllès

A graphic by Séllès

It was a day of sun and crisp cold.  Throughout the park there are figures from Chinese folktales, slightly smaller than real life, each with a little plaque explaining the expression or posture of the figure.  One was of a grumpy old man with the description that he was such a cantankerous teacher that his students had all left him, but today there was a new student.  Another figure, standing in the shimmer of the fountain, holding a mirror to her face… Meijuan’s husband had retired and she had started a fabric shop for fashionable ladies.  I suspect that the Chinese embassy, together with their involvement in the AsiaticMuseum, had placed these figures, each one the beginning of a story.

Meijuan looks at her mirror

Meijuan looks at her mirror

As I left, a huge turkey (yes, real, live) accompanied by two hens crossed my path, gobbling and pecking.

A turkey in Parc Phoenix

A turkey in Parc Phoenix

Vendredi  1 Fevrier 2013

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Image Sources: Images by Will

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