At the beginning of the twentieth century, Paris was the center of all that was new and exciting in the arts. Genius walked arm and arm down Boulevard Montparnasse with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Josephine Baker and Aaron Copland among many others. Something magical attracted these men and women to create radical new ways of looking at the world while living in the CIty of Lights. And seduced by that magic, they created some of the greatest artistic masterpieces the world has ever seen.
The PBS documentary, Paris The Luminous Years vividly captures the explosion of artistic innovation between 1905 and 1930 in that great city. Old Paris comes alive through interviews with the artists themselves, contemporary film footage and the sultry sounds of the all-night jazz clubs in this two hour film. Watching Paris The Luminous Years made me yearn to travel back in time to hang out and gossip at the Cafe Deux Maggots, glass of wine in hand, along with Hemingway, who, after his estrangement with Gertrude Stein, remarked of her writing: “A rose is a rose is an onion.” Or to clamber up the stairs to Pablo Picasso’s cold water flat on Montmartre where he and fellow painter Georges Braque stayed up until dawn discussing art as they burned rejected canvases to keep warm.
Paris The Luminous Years is a heady and intoxicating look at a time when everything in the art world seemed possible and life was lived to its fullest. Don your black beret, sit down, pour yourself a glass of vin rouge and revel in the world that was Paris at the turn of the last century. You can reserve it here.