What is it about Paris?

There are many places in the world with a rich cultural history attached to them. Spend anytime in one of the great European capitals and it’s all around you.   I’ve  traveled to many places in this world and have always wondered, why the fascination with Paris?  To be honest I have never visited Paris so my perception may be a little off.   But really, what was it about Paris that drew some of the most prolific artists of our time to spend years there creating  major movements in art like, Modernism, Dadaism, and Surrealism?

Paris: The Luminous Years airs  9pm, Wednesday, December 15 on WOSU TV.

I’ve read a bit about the great exodus of American artists and writers in the 1920′s and 30′s to Paris. In trying to understand the allure of the city I need to go back to it’s history.  The Belle Epoque or “Beautiful Era” started in the late 19th century and lasted until WWI.  While England was experiencing the Victorian Era, France was in the Belle Epoque, adapting Renaissance style to fit the modern form.  A cultural modernity was taking place, new ideas, exotic and exciting.  As a result European artists descended on Paris, considering it the cultural capital of the western world.  After WWI young Americans disillusioned with the conservative mood of the country, headed east toward Paris to experiment and explore their own artistic ideas, the “Cafe Society” was born.

Unfortunately this idealistic time was cut short  by the Nazi invasion in 1940.  But the foundation was laid and the outcome was major advances in art, architecture, music and literature.

Join us on Wednesday night for the stories of; Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Igor Stravinsky, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Aaron Copland, Josephine Baker, and many more during their time in Paris, the luminous years.

Stacia H.

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