Boulevard Paris 13: a tribute to the Street Art open air Museum of Paris5 February 2021
Launched before the Christmas holidays, this magnificent book, Boulevard Paris 13, made me feel “Waouh” when my order arrived… And then there was time to read, time to digest my walk in the heart of this Street Art open-air museum that has become the 13th arrondissement of Paris…
Here I am again after a break with a cold review of this beautiful book. I must admit that in terms of quality of workmanship I have rarely seen this degree of execution for books dealing with Street Art! Very high level! Since the glued square spine book has a matt cover and comes curled up in a magnificent box with 10 double-sided cardboard plates of the most beautiful photos of the murals composing this adventure. A box with the cover featuring Shepard Fairey’s magnificent Marianne with the title of the book in embossed printing! Yes, you have read correctly, the publisher Albin Michel did not skimp on the means! What’s more, this “art book” is in both French and English, which should be highlighted.
Mehdi Ben Cheikh, the man without whom this Boulevard Paris 13 adventure would not have been possible.
The author of this book is none other than the founder of the Parisian Galerie Itinerrance. But, as you can well imagine, if his career had been limited to that of gallery owner, I would not have bothered to write this article since the blog focuses on artists and those who are at the genesis of projects accessible to all and not for profit. In fact Mehdi Ben Cheikh is one of those people whose vision goes beyond the horizons; he accompanies his artists in off-the-wall projects; projects that seem utopian or even impossible to achieve… With tenacity he carries them out… You certainly remember the incredible ephemeral project of the Paris 13 Tower in Paris? Or maybe you’ve heard about Djerbahood! And the monumental globe made by Shepard Fairey hanging under the Eiffel Tower… Well that’s him too !
Mehdi Ben Cheikh begins this story by speaking either in the first person or with an “us” to signify the different actors who participated in the project, or by referring to the Itinerrance gallery… we fly over the genesis of the project, the actors involved, the strong role of the mayor of the 13th arrondissement, the choice of artists… We also discover all the extraordinary projects in Paris and elsewhere carried out by the man and his gallery… all this in a rather neutral tone far from the exaltation that a project of this scale could have offered us. Compared to the magnificent setting in which it is , the text lacks the vibrancy, the passion. It is like an excellent essay in which nothing exceeds. I don’t know whether it is the humble side of the man that emerges from this text or an institutional smoothing induced by the preface of the Mayor of Paris.
You have understood it, the text not so much by its form as by its polished and smooth content; in which none of the vagaries known during the development of this gigantic project perspire, leaves me a little on my hunger… I also think that the Typo printing in white on blue does not help in any way to a fluid reading of it.
Boulevard Paris 13: a magnificent exhibition catalogue
In spite of the mild criticism evoked on the text, the fact remains that this book is a magnificent coffret set to offer or to offer oneself for those who love urban art and have never visited Boulevard Paris 13. The angles from which the photos were taken, as well as the quality, are often exceptional. Lovers of murals will be amazed by the detailed photos. If, as stated in the introduction of the book, “Urban Art is a movement out of the ordinary…”… This book has everything of the classic catalogue of successful exhibitions… It is perhaps proof that urban art, or at least that of the great frescoes, has finally entered into a kind of standardisation.
“Boulevard Paris 13” is edited by Albin Michel & the Itinerrance Gallery. It is available in all good bookshops for the sum of 49 € including tax, on the Galerie Itinerrance website and on Amazon for those in a hurry.
If you want to learn more about Boulevard Paris 13, don’t hesitate to satisfy your curiosity with my walk in this open-air museum 😉
Other Books on Urban Art that you might like :
- Under Street Art, the Louvre: an ingenious book shining a light on Urban Art
- Street Art & Cinema: a true love story!
After this bookish parenthesis, I’ll meet you again very soon for a new Street Art adventure… As usual if you liked it, share it 😉
Take care of yourself !