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Paris tomb of US artist Man Ray desecrated

The tomb of surrealist American artist Man Ray' in the famous Montparnasse cemetery in Paris was desecrated on Wednesday.

Paris tomb of US artist Man Ray desecrated
Photo: AFP

A man was arrested Wednesday in connection with the apparent desecration of surrealist artist Man Ray's tomb in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris, a municipal official said.

An AFP photographer noticed Wednesday that the gravestone appeared to have been wrenched off Ray's tomb, and a portrait of the American artist and his wife smashed.

Man Ray — who has been called the “first Jewish avant-garde artist” — spent most of his life in the French capital, and was a major figure in the Dada and Surrealist movements, as well as a huge influence on fashion photography.

He died in Paris in 1976 and is buried not far from Nobel prize-winning Irish playwright Samuel Beckett.

A gravestone bearing the inscription: “Unconcerned but not indifferent”, had been knocked over, as was a headstone added after the death of Ray's wife, the dancer Juliet Browner, in 1991, on which was inscribed: “Together again”.

No other tombs nearby had been damaged.

The deputy security head for the Paris district where the cemetery is located said a man was taken into custody on suspicion of being behind the damage after being observed near the grave on Wednesday.

The cemetery also contains the remains of other artistic greats such as writers Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles Baudelaire and Marguerite Duras.

Man Ray is best known for “Ingre's Violin”, a nude photomontage in which he transformed the naked back of his lover and muse, singer Kiki de Montparnasse, into a violin. 

As well as being a visual gag, “Ingre's Violin” is a pun, the idiom meaning “hobby” in French. 

The great 19th-century French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was passionate about the instrument although he never scaled the same heights with it as he did with his paintbrush.

Born Emmanuel Rudzitsky in Philadelphia in 1890, Man Ray was a star of Paris' frenetic artistic scene between the two world wars alongside Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Marcel Duchamps.

He fled the Nazis when they invaded France during World War II but returned from California in 1951 and spent the rest of his days in Paris.

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ARCHITECTURE

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles

Rising high beyond an ancient Roman arena in Arles, a tall, twisted tower created by Frank Gehry shimmers in the sun, the latest futuristic addition to this southern French city known for its World Heritage sites.

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles
Gehry's Luma Tower opens in Arles, France. Photo: H I / Pixabay

The tower, which opens to the public on Saturday, is the flagship attraction of a new “creative campus” conceived by the Swiss Luma arts foundation that wants to offer artists a space to create, collaborate and showcase their work.

Gehry, the 92-year-old brain behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, wrapped 11,000 stainless steel panels around his tower above a huge glass round base.

It will house contemporary art exhibitions, a library, and offices, while the Luma Arles campus as a whole will host conferences and live performances.

From a distance, the structure reflects the changing lights of this town that inspired Van Gogh, capturing the whiteness of the limestone Alpilles mountain range nearby which glows a fierce orange when the sun sets.

Mustapha Bouhayati, the head of Luma Arles, says the town is no stranger to
imposing monuments; its ancient Roman arena and theatre have long drawn the
crowds.

The tower is just the latest addition, he says. “We’re building the heritage of tomorrow.”

Luma Arles spreads out over a huge former industrial wasteland.

Maja Hoffmann, a Swiss patron of the arts who created the foundation, says
the site took seven years to build and many more years to conceive.

Maja Hoffmann, founder and president of the Luma Foundation. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Aside from the tower, Luma Arles also has exhibition and performance spaces in former industrial buildings, a phosphorescent skatepark created by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A and a sprawling public park conceived by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets.

‘Arles chose me’

The wealthy great-granddaughter of a founder of Swiss drug giant Roche, Hoffmann has for years been involved in the world of contemporary art, like her grandmother before her.

A documentary producer and arts collector, she owns photos by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus and says she hung out with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York.

Her foundation’s stated aim is to promote artists and their work, with a special interest in environmental issues, human rights, education and culture.

She refuses to answer a question on how much the project in Arles cost. But as to why she chose the 53,000-strong town, Hoffmann responds: “I did not choose Arles, Arles chose me.”

She moved there as a baby when her father Luc Hoffmann, who co-founded WWF,
created a reserve to preserve the biodiversity of the Camargue, a region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone river delta known for its pink flamingos.

The tower reflects that, with Camargue salt used as mural panels and the
delta’s algae as textile dye.

Hoffmann says she wants her project to attract more visitors in the winter, in a town where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

Some 190 people will be working at the Luma project over the summer, Bouhayati says, adding that Hoffman has created an “ecosystem for creation”.

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