Paris Teaser: Lights! Camera! Action!

Cats on a Sentimental Journey at the Arc de Triomphe (Postcard: T. Brack's archives)

Cats on a Sentimental Journey at the Arc de Triomphe (Postcard: T. Brack’s archives)

Backstage at the Moulin Rouge by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Backstage at the Moulin Rouge by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

By Theadora Brack

Today we’re going to swap our Belle Époque frothy petticoats for some pencil skirts and starched Peter Pan collars. Maybe put a few Chubby Checker 45s on the Hi-Fi, too. That’s right, twisting time is near, so grab the vintage cocktails and the gingham-lined picnic basket. Dear Mad Men fanatics, this tease is for you. Here’s the squeal: Next week, we’re going to take a joy ride back up the hill of Montmartre, and visit my pet movie house, Studio 28 Cinema, the only theater in the historic ’hood.

And that’s not all, Folks!

I’ll also introduce you to one of my favorite photographers in the world. Flashback to August, 1956: While playing the trumpet with the 279th Army Band in France, Maurice Sapiro hit the cobblestoned streets of Paris running, with camera in hand. Inspired by the Lumière Autochrome color film process, he documented the Paris cityscape with fervor, ardor and zeal, capturing her dramatic skies, sunsets and glittering lights like no other. It was a game changer. After I got him on the horn, he set the scene:

“I bought a Leica IIIF at the Army PX for $99. I’d start each day with a coffee and a croissant on the Champs Élysées. Within view of the Arc de Triomphe, I’d begin taking photos from my seat at the café. It’s a memory so strong, it seems like it was just yesterday, not 58 years ago. I fell in love with Camembert, wine, paintings and photography. At the Louvre, I decided that painting and photography would be a major part of the rest of my life. Even then, I knew nothing in the future could compare with Paris.”

Like the old French adage says, “The more things change, the more they stay the same!” The city continues to captivate. Ever since spending my teen summers hawking balloons beneath the “Mini-Me” Eiffel Tower replica at Kings Dominion amusement park in Virginia, I’ve been obsessed with France. It’s true. So join us next week for a spin around Montmartre. Meet me at Studio 28. I’ll buy the corn. We’ll spend more time with Monsieur Sapiro, too. So be there or be square!

Thanks for sharing your photographs, Maurice!

In the words of Draper , “Live like there’s no tomorrow, just in case there isn’t one.” Mais oui!

Paris at Midnight by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Sunset in Paris by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Dressed to the Nines: Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956 (Photograph taken by his twin brother, Erwin)

Dressed to the Nines: Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956 (Photograph taken by his twin brother, Erwin)

Cafe de la Flamme (near the Arc de Triomphe) by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Cafe de la Flamme (near the Arc de Triomphe) by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Louvre Copyist by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Louvre Copyist by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Louvre Copyist by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Sapiro twins on the road to Poitiers, France

Sapiro twins on the road to Poitiers, France, 1956 (Right: Maurice, Left: Erwin)

Eiffel Tower by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Eiffel Tower by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Paris Sunset by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Night, The Louvre by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Play it Again, Sam by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

aimez moi

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88 thoughts on “Paris Teaser: Lights! Camera! Action!

  1. O.K, I had the squirrel, but you have two waving, dancing adorable cats, with everything in the scene a go-go! I LOVE this post and the drama and glamour of the black and white shots of late 50’s Paris! I always know when that black backdrop appears and the stars start twinkling, that there’s something fabulous afoot! Happy Weekend!- Karen.

    • Thanks, Karen! Confession: Max Fleischer’s trippy Betty Boop cartoons inspired the top shot. Especially the ones featuring with Cab Calloway! I recently scored the Kitty Cat postcard. I’m on the hunt for more. And YES. I also love, love Maurice’s moody-bluesy, romantic shots of Paris. I just added a few more. I couldn’t resist! T. (And thanks for your thoughtful words. You always make me smile!)

      • Theadora, I came home with 500 negatives, Venice, Rome, Florence, London, La Rochelle and Poitiers. Are you ready for more?

  2. Aw, T you have such joie de vivre! Love the images and like you (though I’ve never been) I’ve always been drawn to France. No wonder you were drawn to Sapiro–drinking wine, nibbling on a fine cheese while snapping the scenery of Paris and enjoying its art–that IS living life like there’s no tomorrow! Beautiful post.

    • Thanks, Brigitte! You also possess some joie de vivre! Your positive energy is contagious. It’s true. By the way, I’ve been spending time with my 1980s music collection–thanks to your recent project post. (I found the blue and orange paint!) Maurice has quite the eye, doesn’t he? I especially dig his close-up shots at the Louvre. Stay tuned for a swell batch of Montmartre photographs. Stunners included! T. (Enjoy the weekend!)

    • Thanks, Julia! I also love the Kitty Cats. The card reminds me of the old animation by the Bray Productions. Fantastical, always! Check out their scarves. Real fabric! I’m trying to find more collage-like cards. Unfortunately the card doesn’t have a signature. Enjoy the week! T. 
(Do you have a favorite theater in New York City?)

      • I love The Paris Theater! Say, that is post-worthy, I do believe. My fingers are crossed! During my New York days, I used to go to the Film Forum. T. (One of my relatives played the organ in a Baltimore theater during the depression. Interesting job!)

  3. I have stopped by and grabbed Virginia………we spending the next hour packing our valise with our Ruby Slipper Flats and hopping the Magic Bicycle to peddle off the Studio 28……….oh do get some extra corn for us; we shall sneak a bottle of bubbly under our coats to share with you………ring-a-ding……..

    • ‘S Wonderful,’S Marvelous! Monsieur Tin Man, I will keep my eyes peeled for both you and Virginia. I wonder if she’s be wearing her new “Empress d’ Amore” gown by Resa?! If so, all eyes will be on Virginia and not the screen, I’m afraid! Meet me in the little café bar inside Studio 28 Movie House. The popcorn and the bubbly are on me! It’s a squeal. T. (Thanks to your Yellow Brick Road Adventures, I’m still dreaming of Sicily!)

    • Thanks, Bradley! Do you have a favorite? OH. Wait until you see his Montmartre photographs. We’re sharing more street shots. They’re truly wonderful. Stay tuned! T. (Say, you’re a movie critic. Do you like old movie houses?)

      • Night, The Louvre by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

        I liked that one the best but they are all so lovely :D

        I do like old movie houses. There is one near me that went under renovations several years back, then ran out of money. It was sad, as they showed old movies there. Are you going to do a post on old theaters in Paris? That would be cool! :D

      • What a sad story, Bradley. Blah! Yes, I’m creating a post about the old theaters in Paris. If you love old theaters, you’d love Studio 28. Founded in 1928, it was featured in the Jean-Pierre Jeunet “Amélie” film (2001)! Say, have you reviewed Amélie? T. (Yes, Night, The Louvre is one of my favorites. Such an intimate scene. I love the the reflection of the lights on the water. AND the top hat.)

    • I know! I know! Paris really hasn’t changed. It would be great fun to re-trace Maurice’s steps. By the way, the Flamme Café is still in operation! Located near the Arc de Triomphe, is a great place for some prime-people watching, along with a glass or two of red, red wine! T. (Enjoy your weekend!)

    • AH. Thanks! We’re going to share more photographs soon. You’ll appreciate his sunsets in Montmartre. Signed, A FAN of your dramatic sky photographs!

    • Thanks, Alexander! I’ve been a fan of Maurice for two years. He now has a huge following. He’s generous, talented, witty, AND charming! T. (Enjoy the weekend!)

  4. Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in our dreams. The ephemeral dream that is Paris spun into a realty by Maurice Sapiro, a Flaneur of the highest order. We step into each photograph and embark on a journey of discovery and longing. My ruby slippers carry me into this world, Theadora gave me the key that opened the door.

    • Virginia, I loved your passage about dreams and reality. I agree! Maurice Sapiro is a Flaneur of the highest order. Stop. Wait. Didn’t recently create a post about the Flaneur? I think so. It was lovely. I will track down a link! T. (I received a telegram from Monsieur Tin Man. I’m buying the bubbly and corn. Do wear your “Empress” gown by Resa. It will go very well with the large set of surrealist light fixtures,created by artist/film director Jean Cocteau. You will woo all.)

  5. Ah, Theadora … and M. Sapiro reblogged. Magnifique. Thanks for this introduction to his fine, fine art. And this quote ~”Even then, I knew nothing in the future could compare with Paris.” Shivers.

    • Thanks, Patricia! YES. Like you, Maurice has a lovely way with words and the camera. A triple-threat artist, he also paints and sculpts. I wonder if Maurice and Erwin made it to Provence. I will ask! T. (Have a lovely weekend!)

      • We were on a “good will” mission. A one day visit to each town, an evening meal with the mayor, then we would perform a concert, and get back on the bus. Got to see much of the Loire Valley from the bus window. “Jaunty” wasn’t our style. How about “Stars And Stripes Forever”?

    • Merci! I thoroughly enjoyed working with Maurice! T. (Enjoy the week! Yesterday, I organized my Paris books. It was time. I still need to buy another bookcase. But at least they’re now in categories: Paris fashion, Paris maps, Paris food, and so on. What a task!)

  6. Just brilliant – I love your GIF, T! Never heard of Sapiro before – really like his photographs – factual and romantic at the same time.

    • Thanks, Richard! I thought you’d enjoy Maurice’s street photography. Two years ago, Maurice’s son, John helped him create a WordPress site. It’s gorgeous, of course. Word then spread like wild fire! Brilliant son! T. (The GIF was also super fun to create. I’m a big time Betty Boop fan! It’s the last GIF for awhile. I promise!)

  7. How strange, I’ve just mentioned Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s « Grande Odalisque » painting on a comment ! Maurice Sapiro’s photographs are so atmospheric ! Your feline GIF is terrific !

    • Again! What funny timing. Perfect timing! I agree. Maurice’s photographs are extremely atmospheric. Stay tuned for more. T. (I love copies of master works. Just before my Rome trip, I scored a very old framed copy of Titian’s Amor Sacro e Amor Profano. During my jaunt, it was great fun to see the original in person at the Borghese Gallery. It’s interesting to compare the details. Could this the beginning of a new obsession. Oh, dear!)

  8. Pingback: My Photographs Of Paris Taken In 1956 Are Now Featured On Theadora Brack’s Paris Website. | Maurice Sapiro Photography

  9. What wonderful pics! I knew Maurice was a tremendously talented artist and photographer, but I didn’t know about his time in Paris. How cool!

    • I agree, Naomi! From top to bottom, it’s a beautiful series. And speaking of dreamy, your works are pretty darn spectacular. I especially loved the “saugatuck summer series.” Lovely! Theadora

      • Thanks, Theadora. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have Maurice as a friend. Oh, God. I bet I just made him blush! LOL Will peruse your blog as my husband and I are big fans of Paris.

  10. Great introduction to some wonderful work in a wonderful place. The vision of Sapiro having coffee and a croissant on the Champs Élysées provides some fabulous imagery and sets the scene to images you’ve shown. My favourite has to be the image of the Cafė De La Flamme. Thanks for sharing :)

    • AH. What a beautiful passage, Keven. The Café de la Flamme is also one of my favorites. It’s moody. It’s haunting. With its Hopper Nighthawks vite, it would make a great book cover, I think. The lone drinker looks so interesting. As well as the action inside the bar and the shadow of the approaching stranger. I haven’t been able to stop studying it. T. (By the way, the Café de la Flamme is still in operation. It’s located near the Arc de Triomphe at 6 Avenue de Wagram in the 3rd arrondissment.)

  11. I finally have time to sit down to read your post and what do I find? A story told through gorgeous photography! I loved your postcard opening shot as well. Now I look forward to your next post and more photos. Since I in a very small way aspire to be a good photographer, I always enjoy seeing excellent photos and learning from them.

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend!


    • YES. The photographs are beauties! About two years ago, Maurice’s son, John helped him create and manage the site, one image at a time. After I spotted Maurice’s “La Rochelle, France” photograph, I became a fan. Janet, your photographs are also consistently beautiful. Knockouts, really! They catch my eye every time. Thanks to you, I’ve been watching my old Dale Chihuly docs! T. (Enjoy the week!)

  12. Thanks for this wonderful post Theadora! I too am an admirer of Maurice Sapiro. He seems to be a “Renaissance man”. As well as a brilliant photographer he is a superb painter of atmosphere (like JMW Turner), an inventor, musician and extraordinary craftsman. I hope he is recording his life and times. It is lovely to see his work nestled so nicely in your setting and with your lively text. In the meantime, I look forward to the next treats you serve! Philippa

    • Philippa, Great to “see” you! I’m with you. Maurice (a.k.a., Renaissance man) is all about Atmosphere! Atmosphere! Atmosphere! Like your photographs and paintings! It’s true. What projects are you working on these days? Have I missed any updates? Do spill! T. (Rome was fabulous! I now have a new city in my life. I tumbled flat!)

      • Isadora! You make me chuckle. Thank you for your lovely comments and your interest. My updates have been poised on the brink. Soon to take the plunge into the www. Have been breathing more sea air than studio air. I had a shot at 28 Drawings Later: February Drawing Challenge on facebook and am sharing a painting challenge with a friend in the Netherlands. I finished Nov’s in Jan/Feb and hoping to do Jan’s by end March. Oh dear, sounds like my book club behaviour. Glad Rome was such a hit! Cheers, Philippa

  13. High kicks and petticoats, low bends and broomsticks, once again a delightful journey through your words and world, I love travelling with you!

    • High kicks and petticoats, low bends and broomsticks! I love it. I love it. What gorgeous phrasing. This I must steal, and add it to the top shot Kitty Cat caption. I’ll credit you, of course. Merci! T. (Enjoy the week!)

      • Oh, my pleasure, no credit required, it was simply reflecting what you had constructed in the first place :-) Best wishes for your week too :-)

  14. Fantastique, comme toujours :) I miss France so much right now. It’s such a special place. All of it, really. I sure do hope I get to go back someday and revisit all the places I loved. I have a silly question pour toi!! When I was in France in 1997, it seemed like all the fashionistas wore the same perfume – it was Champagne (Yvresse). I brought a bottle back with me and it reminded me of my trip every time. Is there any notable fragrance that is popular in Paris these days?

    • You’ll return to Paris, I know it! I loved your story about Champagne. Do you still have the bottle? I love Annick Goutal’s fragrances. Petite Chérie and Charlotte are two of my all-time favorites. (I’ve been wearing Petite Chérie for a decade!) I recently stopped by their Place Vendôme location, and they gave me about 30 testers to try. So perhaps it’s time for a new scent. My favorite A. G. shop is located near the Musée d’Orsay. The manager has been with the company since it opened in 1981. She knows her scents. T. (The salons look like over-sized jewelry boxes. What are you currently wearing?)

  15. Love that you found these brilliant older photos! My unlikely favorite is the violinist with the young boy– great face…
    thanks for transporting us back… Your blog posts always have so much depth to them…

  16. Thanks for introducing me to this photographer! The whole time I was reading this post, however, all I could think about was how people will be paying you the same compliments in the future!

  17. I can understand your obsession with France, I’ve been in love with Paris for the last six years now, and miss it like crazy. Nice photographs of 1956 Paris by Maurice Sapiro.

    • Well, thank you for your nice words! YES. I am hooked on France. It’s true! I’ve asked you about your favorite French films. But have I asked you about Paris movie houses? Do you have a favorite? T. (And Happy Blog Anniversary!)

      • Excellent choice! Located at 50 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, it’s just a hop, skip, and jump away from the Monoprix (52). T.

  18. Hi Theadora, I always love your posts—-such a lovely way of looking at Paris/all things French. Hopefully one day when I am in Paris for a longer period we could try to meet up. Won’t be this year I’m afraid—-I’m only in Paris for about a week I think.

    • Bonjour, Vivienne, It’s a deal! I always enjoy reading about your globe trekking adventures. The “Nelson Mandela” sculpture by artist Marco Cianfanelli is amazing. I loved your series of photographs. Ah, the element of surprise! It’s a fantastical work. Happy Journeys! T.

  19. Maurice is one of my favorite contemporary artists, so happy to see you showcase his photography. Lovely town Paris, happy to meet you and I look forward to visiting your blog posts.

    • I appreciate your kind words, Mary. I’m also a fan of Maurice’s work. I love how he captures light and texture. We’re sharing a few more photographs this week. Stay tuned! Theadora (I love your works, by the way. Have you visited the Sennelier Art Supply at 3 Quai Voltaire in Paris? It’s one of my favorite places in the city. I love the smell of the place.)

    • I agree! It reminds me of Edward Hopper’s 1942 Nighthawks. It’s moody. It’s romantic. T. (And speaking of Night and Day, I thoroughly enjoyed your images of the Taj Mahal. Gorgeous! And now I’m humming Cole Porter’s Night and Day tune: Night and day you are the one, only you beneath the moon or under the sun, whether near to me or far it’s no matter darling, where you are, I think of you. Heavens to Betsy!)

      • Thanks for the compliment Theodora.
        I love Nighthawks – I used to have a poster of it hanging on my wall. It’s a great piece of art!

      • I also love Hopper’s Chop Suey (1939) and New York Movie House (1939). Heck, I’m a Hopper Fanatic. Perhaps it’s time to create a post about Hopper’s time in Paris. I don’t think he enjoying the frequent changes in the weather. Throwing on my Nancy Drew cap, now. T. (Enjoy the week!)

      • Great idea about Hopper, Theodora. I cannot wait to see with what you come up with. Posts about artist’s and their time in Paris is something that ,I think, a lot of your viewers would enjoy. There are quite a few articles about John Singer Sargent’s time in Europe being written now ( March 2014 ) that I have seen and are interesting. Thanks again for bringing such entertaining topics to everyone … Frank

  20. Pingback: Paris Match: Let’s Go to the Movies | Paris: People, Places and Bling!

  21. Great post, Theadora! Very inspiring and I really enjoyed the Parisian images. You have a good eye for finding work that everyone enjoys … Frank

  22. Paris, August, 1956.
    I was there.
    OMG, why do these photos look so old? It was only YESTERDAY!
    (My first ever trip to Paris, freshly graduated from Wellesley College, on a grand tour of Europe. Mille remerciements pour les souvenirs, Theadora.)

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