Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Partager Boutons (Buttons)!!

Button, Button, Who has the Button?! Originating from the French work bouton,  I'm sure many of us have played that game.  What I wasn't sure about is that the Bouton is so old and so popular.  I can remember spending hours with my mother's button box, never eating a one ...  and those pretty buttons could keep me entertained for hours ... just as they can today.  There are some great places to buy buttons here in Paris; The Marché St. Pierre, at the Puce, and I have found one or two just laying on the sidewalk.  But the place to enjoy buttons in Paris is the exhibition, Boutons, phénomène artistique, historique et culturel  at the Foundation Mona Bismarck.  As you walk in the door to this beautiful hotel particular, with its romantic, winding staircase and white- black tiled floor,  you are met by a very nice gentleman who hands you a looking glass, for your viewing pleasure, and gently ushers you into the darkened room lit by a fairly mammoth lustre, walled in mirrors.  Buttons surround you, about 1,500 buttons of the most rarest and beautiful buttons,  telling you their story ... which begins like this ....

We have always needed ways to keep ourselves open and closed to the public, so to speak.  
They have always been an essential item, but buttons have been used all the way back to prehistoric times in Egypt, Iran, and Greece.  The earliest in the exhibition include Chinese buttons in agate from the Han tombs dating back to the Dian kingdom (206 -220 AD).  Buttons hang around a long time!   The golden age of the button was in 18th century France; exquisite miniature works of art. (seen very well with your looking glass).  At the time of the French Revolution, there were over 1,000 button workers.  "Libertines"  wore buttons with erotic drawings concealed behind their lapels or inside their collars. Imagine!  By the 19th century, button making becoming more industrialized and reflected the main artistic movements of the day  - Art Nouveau and Art Deco.  During the  heydays of the haute couture, the demand for unique, one-off buttons was huge.   

I still have a fascination for buttons today, and enjoying this exhibition at the home of the former American socialite, the Mona Bismarck Foundation on the Avenue New York, right across from the Eiffel Tower was the perfect way to spend the day in Paris!
If you have a fascination for les boutons, give me a call and we will go Partager the day!

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