exCerpt:. The Paris Review, ‘Life Size Frescoes’

coffee has an interesting way of showing up in our cultural conversation. an exCerpt, of coffee and its collective appearance as a character in the every day.


Cafe Society’Life

“He christened the bistro La Colombe and covered its walls with near life-size frescoes of café society—Bemelmans’s own Bemelmans Bar.”

Can you imagine walking into a space with art the size of yourself, surrounding you as you commune in a coffee shop? I hadn’t thought of it until I saw this image from The Paris Review – a frescoe from the lifestyle of those who frequented Bemelman’s cafe bar.

This is a frescoe of how “Bemelmans recorded the people he had watched throughout his career.” I think we have a lot in common this Bemelman and I. Upon seeing this,  I quickly imagined myself in this frame, regally dressed, but not for show, but because it was part of my lifestyle. And then, I imagined this woman reading the paper – because print wasn’t dead – enjoy coffee – look at the vessels – and maybe after being with herself conversations being afoot with a nearby patron on all kinds of topic; of the day, of current news, of family announcements and perhaps even about what was in the cup or glass itself.

And so then, this fresco took me back to a time when art and coffee so lovingly coincided. Although Bemelmans’ didn’t last as a space, the art survived and a wonderful visual about cafe society then.  It makes me feel warm inside to see how history shows how intimate coffee and the arts were and still are. xoCo

An exhibit featuring these works is now showing in “Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans” (on view through October 19).

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