Salvador Dali’s Version of Nasty Women
If you’re visiting Paris this summer, check out this little-known portrait of Paris’ Grande Dame
This week, while I take a short break, I thought I’d re-visit an older episode of the art podcast I used to produce, called Artipoeus and one of Salvador Dali’s most famous portraits, The Kentucky Countess, at The Mona Bismarck American Center in Paris.
Paris is often known as a feminine city — a city that celebrates the beauty of women, womanly charms, of all things feminine. For women coming from America — where you should have a career but not be ambitious, where you should be independent but not strong, where you should be charming but not demanding, where you should be sexy but not a slut, where the ideal woman is really just a spunky teenager, regardless of her real age — Paris is a relief.
Finally, you are allowed — encouraged, actually — to rejoice in your curves, your wrinkles, your experience, your sway, in the power of every inch of your body — including some surprising corners! — where you get to be a woman.
More than one American has landed in Paris a girl and grown into a woman there.
One of the most famous is the Countess Mona von Bismarck, philanthropist, socialite and art collector, for whom the Mona Bismarck American Center is named.
It’s in the tony 16th arrondissement, on the right bank of the Seine, in the very fabulous restored Hotel de Ville of Mona von Bismarck herself. It hosts a collection of 20th century art and fashion collected by Bismarck during her lifetime, as well as new exhibitions, performances and installations. The Center puts on regular events: classy affairs, with hors d’oevres and free champagne (Berlin!), and it’s not unusual for the US Ambassador to show up, or other luminaries in the Franco-American cultural scene in Paris.
The first time I was there, glass of champagne (that I didn’t have to pay for, Berlin!) in hand, I wandered through the grand ballrooms to check the place out. While…