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French Institute Alliance Française Salutes Serge Gainsbourg

Originally Posted: April 13, 2011

Amber Nerinck Seltzer, Michèle Gerber Klein and Charles Fabius. (Patrick McMullan)

New York City - Michèle Gerber Klein opened her home to Francophiles and a few friends of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) after the preview of Initials LG, an exhibition of photographs of the French idol Serge Gainsbourg.

Gainsbourg, a pianist, singer, beatnik, raconteur, poet, actor, filmmaker, photographer, painter and novelist, is one of those personalities who defies description or category. François Mitterand, President of France from 1981 until 1995, referred to him as a literary descendent of Apollinaire and Baudelaire.

The exhibition at the FIAF Galleries, features portraits as well as rare and unusual images of him taken by Helmut Newton, William Klein, Tony Frank among others who documented his celebrity. It was first shown at Fifth One Fine Art Photography Gallery in Belgium. The show, curated by Roger Szmulewicz, coincides with the 20th Anniversary of Gainsbourg's death and has been considered a tribute to his "subversive flair" and "vivid imagination."

For those who never heard the name, he had a kind of persona almost impossible to develop in American culture. His wit and decadence, frequently presented in provocative ways, made him infamous as well as famous. And beloved. He had a penchant for notoriety that enhanced his cultural stature. An example is his statement: Ugliness is in a way superior to beauty because it lasts."

Thrice married, his relationships including those with Brigitte Bardot and Marianne Faithful, were popular fodder. His last wife was British actress Jane Birkin, known as the inspiration for the Birkin Bag, a leather handbag designed to her specification by Hermès. Their daughter is the actress/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Among those discussing the French idol at Klein's salon were Didi Pei, Lady Liliana Cavendish, Charlie Scheips, Chiu-Ti Jansen, Pierre Sernet, Linda Silverman, Charles Fabius, Evelyn Laurentzen, Paul Laster, Julie Saul, Peter Bogardus, Evelyn Bell, Tristan de Terves, Dorothee Harris, Derek Scheips, Christina Kruse, Roger Jazilek, Ulirch Lang, Mariana and Emmanuel de Chaunac, Stephanie Rabinowitz, Scott Marquardt, Antoine Guerrero, Piere Stone, Christina Bryszowea, Parker Stephenson, Natalia Tchetchounina, Rose Hartman, Zeke Mermell, Alice Zimet, Phillipe and Saleen Finkelstein, Christine Dippold, John Thomas, Karen Burke, Adelle Jancovic, Bart Machels, Chris Patterson, Damon Brandt, Uli Holz, Emma Winter, Kore Yoors, Man-Lai Leang, Martine Fougeron, Shawn Lyle and Adam Friedberg.


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