Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The super cool ice wall and other contemporary art at Le Meurice in Paris

♥ Le Meurice - my parting message on the ice wall

Paris is a fast-paced city. It seems that I'm frequently rushing from the latest exhibition to the newest show. One of the downsides is that I all-too-often miss some fascinating sights.

Take Le Meurice as an example. During the years that I've lived in Paris, I've visited this lovely palace hotel on the Rue de Rivoli for drinks at Bar 228 and afternoon tea at Le Dali on numerous occasions. That's why I was so surprised when the bellhop showed me the super cool ice wall, where guests are invited to etch comments, when I checked into the hotel for #EmbraceParis. "Is this new?" I queried. When he replied that it wasn't, I shook my head in wonder. How had I missed it?

"Le Baiser" by Zoulikha Bouabdellah was the first winner of the Meurice Prize for Contemporary Art.
(Photo credit: Le Meurice)

Something else that I learned during my three-night stay at Le Meurice is that Salvador Dali was a regular visitor of the 180 year old hotel, hence the restaurant that bears the name of the famous Spanish artist. To carry on its role as a patron of the arts, the palace hotel founded the Meurice Prize for Contemporary Art in 2008 under the impetus of general manager Franka Holtmann. In doing so, Le Meurice asserted its support of young artists.

The Meurice Prize for Contemporary Art is an international award with an endowment of €20,000. It concerns all disciplines in the visual and plastic arts (painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, etc.) and distinguishes a project of international stature, proposed by an artist and their gallery, two weeks before the FIAC contemporary art fair in Paris.

Lesson learned: I'm going to start dedicating more time to noticing my surroundings and less time to running from here to there. Maybe I'll even start hanging out at Le Meurice like Salvidor Dali. It will give me the opportunity to more fully appreciate the Dalinien chair with feet in the form of ladies shoes, a lamp with drawers and Le Meurice's recognizable lobster on a telephone in Le Dali. 

Salvador Dali at Le Meurice (1974). ©Huper-International Press.

2 comments:

  1. I had dinner there on my last night in Paris with a lovely young man who had been a French international student in my city the year before. We couldn't find anywhere else to eat in the vicinity! We remarked on the ceiling of the restaurant...all painted with drapes and bows/boas. I disliked it, esp after all the magnificent painted ceilings I had looked at for six weeks at Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte etc and many wonderful churches in Rome. I said it would have been better left unpainted and we laughed a bit. O la la. When we paid the bill! Quelle horreur! The receipt indicated that we had eaten in Restaurant Salvador Dali! I would not have had the courage to joke about the ceiling if I had known!! Anyway.... I didn't like it; the rest of the hotel was very impressive. I believe the artist actually lived there at least while he did the ceiling. Gwendoline in Australia

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    1. Hi Gwendoline, Thanks for sharing your story about Le Meurice. What a nice treat for your last night in Paris! Don't worry that Dali is turning in his grave because of your comments about the ceiling. It was painted by Ara Starck when the public areas of Le Meurice were revamped by French designer Philippe Starch in 2007. Regards, Mary Kay

      Here are some entertaining anecdotes about Dali from Le Meurice's website:

      One of the hotel’s most outrageous guests was the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, who spent at least one month per year at the Hotel Le Meurice. His behaviour could also be surrealistic: once he demanded that a herd of sheep be brought to his room, and upon their arrival, Dalí took out his pistol and shot at them. Luckily, the gun was filled with blank bullets. Another time, he requested a horse. Yet another time, he asked the staff to capture flies for him in the Tuileries Garden, paying them five francs (around one euro) per fly.

      Dalí was a regular at the Hotel Le Meurice. He became close to certain members of the staff, whom he would give autographed lithographs of his work as a Christmas tip.

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