Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55

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The Independent Online
Boubal (Paul), manager of the most famous cafe in the world, started a revolution in St-Germain-des-Pres by installing a fridge where Jean-Paul Sartre used to sit . . . At first sight there is nothing to make such a fuss about. But this outrage of 'Lese Sartrety' would have been unthinkable only six months ago. The bench where 'The Sartre' - as Boubal calls him - used to place his then unknown behind had remained untouched until now. And now suddenly Boubal, despite his knowledge of the Blue Guide classics, has shamelessly pushed aside the historic bench and put a fridge there instead. This means something . . .

It means that Boubal has been conquered by America, completely overpowered . . . People come from the four corners of the earth and especially from the New World to see the 'artists'.

Boubal patiently made his fortune selling cafes creme to the two thousand poets of the sixth arrondissement. But what a lesson in patience this type of existentialism is] Of course everyone knows that the Saint-Germain-des-Pres crowd is both boozy and short of money. They have a talent for freeloading that is beyond most of us. Boubal reckons that if you send out a hundred invitations to a party in Saint-Germain-des-Pres you can expect to have to provide drinks for a good one thousand under-age alcoholics. But within these thousand under-age alcoholics there is most certainly a young genius hiding. This genius, five years later, will attract a good ten thousand Americans. That is the trick . . .

From an article headed 'Revolution a Saint-Germain-des-Pres' in Samedi Soir, 2 July 1949. Translated by Emmanuelle Lepic.

Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55 at the Tate Gallery

until 5 September.

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