Paris museum lifts photo ban over minister’s pics

The famous Musée d'Orsay in Paris has had to drop its ban on visitors taking photos of its artworks after the country's own Culture Minister openly flouted the restriction.

Paris museum lifts photo ban over minister's pics
Visitors will now be allowed to take photos at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris once again. Photo: Terratta/Flickr

The well-known museum, that hosting many impressionist paintings, is now aligning itself with rules in force in other major museums in Paris and around the world, which allow visitors to take photos as long as flashes and tripods aren't used.

The sudden lifting of the no-photos policy, which had been in place since 2010, happened on Wednesday, after French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin took a picture of a canvas by artist Pierre Bonnard whose post-impressionist paintings are currently being exhibited in the museum.

Pellerin posted her image on her Instagram feed on Monday, triggering an outcry by Internet users who complained she was getting away with a practice forbidden to ordinary visitors.


#bonnard au Musée d'Orsay

Une photo publiée par Fleur Pellerin (@fleurpellerin) le 16 Mars 2015 à 15h32 PDT

She also posted pics on her Twitter account.

"This decision is applicable immediately," said Guy Cogeval, the president of the Musée d'Orsay and L'Orangerie, in an internal memo.

Cogeval said the issue has been under discussion for several months, but admitted that the culture minister's open flaunting of the ban had made the need for a decision more urgent.

However the museum insists that using flash photography, tripods and selfie sticks is still forbidden.

The culture ministry has its own, non-binding, charter on photography in French museums that urges commonsense approaches to taking photos in museums as long as it doesn't disturb other visitors or pose a danger to artworks.

The decision to lift the ban was however heralded by one Paris art blogger.

Bernard Hasquenoph, who started the blog "Louvre pour tous" ("The Louvre for Everyone") has been fighting for many years for visitors to have the freedom to take photos in museums.

"This is a victory for the sharing of culture," he said. "The Musée d'Orsay was against the current".

SEE ALSO: Paris museums set for selfie stick ban

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‘Lost’ manuscript of pro-Nazi French author published 78 years later

A book by one of France's most celebrated and controversial literary figures arrives in bookstores this week, 78 years after the manuscript disappeared

'Lost' manuscript of pro-Nazi French author published 78 years later

It is a rare thing when the story of a book’s publication is even more mysterious than the plot of the novel itself.

But that might be said of Guerre (War) by one of France’s most celebrated and controversial literary figures, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, which arrives in bookstores on Thursday, some 78 years after its manuscript disappeared.

Celine’s reputation has somehow survived the fact that he was one of France’s most eager collaborators with the Nazis.

Already a superstar thanks to his debut novel Journey to the End of the Night (1932), Celine became one of the most ardent anti-Semitic propagandists even before France’s occupation.

In June 1944, with the Allies advancing on Paris, the writer abandoned a pile of his manuscripts in his Montmartre apartment.

Celine feared rough treatment from authorities in liberated France, having spent the war carousing with the Gestapo, and giving up Jews and foreigners to the Nazi regime and publishing racist pamphlets about Jewish world conspiracies.

For decades, no one knew what happened to his papers, and he accused resistance fighters of burning them. But at some point in the 2000s, they ended up with retired journalist Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, who passed them – completely out of the blue – to Celine’s heirs last summer.

‘A miracle’
Despite the author’s history, reviews of the 150-page novel, published by Gallimard, have been unanimous in their praise.

“The end of a mystery, the discovery of a great text,” writes Le Point; a “miracle,” says Le Monde; “breathtaking,” gushes Journal du Dimanche.

Gallimard has yet to say whether the novel will be translated.

Like much of Celine’s work, Guerre is deeply autobiographical, recounting his experiences during World War I.

It opens with 20-year-old Brigadier Ferdinand finding himself miraculously alive after waking up on a Belgian battlefield, follows his treatment and hasty departure for England – all based on Celine’s real experiences.

His time across the Channel is the subject of another newly discovered novel, Londres (London), to be published this autumn.

If French reviewers seem reluctant to focus on Celine’s rampant World War II anti-Semitism, it is partly because his early writings (Guerre is thought to date from 1934) show little sign of it.

Journey to the End of the Night was a hit among progressives for its anti-war message, as well as a raw, slang-filled style that stuck two fingers up at bourgeois sensibilities.

Celine’s attitude to the Jews only revealed itself in 1937 with the publication of a pamphlet, Trifles for a Massacre, which set him on a new path of racial hatred and conspiracy-mongering.

He never back-tracked. After the war, he launched a campaign of Holocaust-denial and sought to muddy the waters around his own war-time exploits – allowing him to worm his way back into France without repercussions.

‘Divine surprise’
Many in the French literary scene seem keen to separate early and late Celine.

“These manuscripts come at the right time – they are a divine surprise – for Celine to become a writer again: the one who matters, from 1932 to 1936,” literary historian Philippe Roussin told AFP.

Other critics say the early Celine was just hiding his true feelings.

They highlight a quote that may explain the gap between his progressive novels and reactionary feelings: “Knowing what the reader wants, following fashions like a shopgirl, is the job of any writer who is very financially constrained,” Celine wrote to a friend.

Despite his descent into Nazism, he was one of the great chroniclers of the trauma of World War I and the malaise of the inter-war years.

An exhibition about the discovery of the manuscripts opens on Thursday at the Gallimard Gallery and includes the original, hand-written sheets of Guerre.

They end with a line that is typical of Celine: “I caught the war in my head. It is locked in my head.”

In the final years before his death in 1961, Celine endlessly bemoaned the loss of his manuscripts.

The exhibition has a quote from him on the wall: “They burned them, almost three manuscripts, the pest-purging vigilantes!”

This was one occasion – not the only one – where he was proved wrong.