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Why Paris? 1900 - 1947 Mary Alexander Friday 01 November 2019

The Arts Society East Anglia Area

Special Interest Day

Culford School, nr Bury St Edmunds

A unique day exploring why the city of Paris has acted as both a magnet and a cauldron of talent for aspiring artists and designers. Join Mary Alexander to discover more about the key events and personalities shaping the ‘City of Light’ during the first half of the twentieth century.  We will venture beyond the ‘mainstream’ to identify the creative individuals who shaped the Parisian concept of ‘modernity’ (including the many female innovators described as ‘wife/sister/muse/assistant of ….’!)

The international exhibitions of 1900, 1925 and 1937 will be used as focal points in each of the sessions to identify shifting patterns of emphasis and inter-connections between various arts and design media, including interiors, graphics, fashion, photography.  Whether strolling along the new boulevards, calling into a favourite café, nightclub or gallery, the descriptions of Zola, Stein, Hemingway and Fitzgerald will accompany the imagery and recreate the sense of ‘being there’.  In particular, the significant rôle of Parisian couture and fashion within French culture will be examined as a response to the rise of German industrial and military ambitions.

Session one: the Belle Epoque – the City as Spectacle

Session two: 1920s – Partying into a new Future

Session three: The 1937 Paris Exposition, Occupation and Defiance

Mary will be bringing a selection of historic artefacts from her personal vintage collection: advertisements, magazine covers, fashion plates and official exhibition catalogues (1925 and 1937) for you to enjoy


MARY ALEXANDER has thirty years’ experience as a lecturer, with a BA in History and History of Art and an MA with Distinction in History of art from University College, London.  Her experience includes public lectures in museums, tutoring for the OU, visiting lecturer at Christie’s Education in London, museum curator at Platt Hall, the Gallery of Costume, Manchester.  She is now a freelance lecturer to various arts, heritage and antiquarian societies; she has also worked in Pentagram design consultancy in London and New York, organising conferences and special events.  She is the author of various articles on design and visual awareness issues; her background combines an unusual blend of academic and visual communications skills.  Mary has lectured for DFAS Australia and New Zealand in 2011, 2013, and 2016.  She is an enthusiastic member and President of The Arts Society Glaven Valley.


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