"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  --William Shakespeare

Entries in street art (14)


The Artist's Mother



After Thom-Thom gave us our weekly French lesson, we three took the Mètro from the Latin Quarter to an art gallery near L’Opéra. 

We walked through a dark courtyard, Thom-Thom, Richard and I. Everyone held a drink, or was smoking. Tonight I didn’t want a drink, I only wanted to see Combo Culture Kidnapper’s art. He's a tall, bearded street artist we've covered four times before, in Facebook posts, whose "Co-exist" campaign in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacres was embraced by Parisians of all religions and backgrounds.


Artwork © 2016 Combo Culture Kidnapper

The gallery was small, beautifully lit, with every wall featuring his work. There were at least five or six different styles of portraits of men and women. Every once in a while you see an exhibition in which you love everything, and this was one. But what I loved most were three drawings of "terrorists" based on Star Wars Jedi: a Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew. In these three drawings, Culture Combo addressed the recent terrorist acts around the world with the most potent weapon: humor. But not divisive humor, unifying humor, cross-cultural humor. He himself straddles different cultures; his father is Lebanese Christian; his mother Moroccan Muslim, and he is French. 


Artwork © 2016 Combo Culture Kidnapper 


Artwork © 2016 Combo Culture Kidnapper


Artwork © 2016 Combo Culture Kidnapper

I saw a woman with long dark hair and a beautiful presence, seated in a leather chair in one corner of the room. I asked her if this was her art gallery. Non, she said, she was the mother of the artist. I told her what I thought of her son’s work. She complimented me on my French.

A friend of hers joined us. We talked a bit, and I learned that she was a former flamenco dancer, and now a psychologist and hypnotist. Hypnosis, she says, is a creative process. It helps to be an artist. It’s a dialogue between you and the patient. You have to be able to imagine yourself within another’s mind. It sounds like writing, I say, like getting into the heads of your characters. Yes, she said, and she’d always wanted to write. Then you must do so, I said. One of these days she might. And why not now? I asked.


Artwork © 2016 Combo Culture Kidnapper

She asked me if I’d ever been to Morocco. “No,” I said. “We were about to go last year, when the first terrorist acts were committed in Paris. We decided not to go, because we’re Americans. Since Bush in 2001, our government's policies toward the Muslim world have put a target on our backs.”

Non,” she said, and her friend agreed, “Morocco is safe for Americans. It’s well-secured. The Moroccan police helped the French after the terrorist attacks.”

Richard approached and snapped more photos, and we discussed the safety of Morocco with him. And then Combo came over. I repeated what I’d said to his mother about the power of humor to dissolve hatred. She corrected my pronunciation (because I’d said I didn’t want to speak English, I wanted to master French). “L’humour sounds like l’amour,” she said. Oh yes, I’ve made that mistake before. It was hard to wrap my tongue around the word when it followed the “l’hu-” sound.  It kept coming out as “l’amour.”


Richard showed us all a fresh photo on the rear screen of his Nikon, of Combo, with his long lashes and dreamy eyes. And I thought, Isn’t that perfect, a mother who can hypnotize, and a son with dreamy eyes. 




Back in the U.S.A.: Surprises!




  • How scuzzy Penn Station in NYC is, not a single restaurant with inviting food or places to sit! Cappuccino to die from, not for; and how do you ruin a bagel?  
  • Emily, Richard’s niece, over lunch at Union Oyster House in Boston (where Daniel Webster ate six plates of oysters a day and President Kennedy dined). How can a 19-year-old girl be this focused, grounded, present? 
  • Hawk! A lone hawk on a bare winter branch to the right of the bus just outside Amherst, (my father’s emblem, his totem: the thread of this journey leading back to him).



  • Never have trees seemed so alive to me, living beings breathing all around us in their coats of mauve, burgundy, scarlet, orange, brown, goldenrod, yellow! I remember standing with Dad here on the Amherst Commons under this same flaming tree in ’93. 
  • Walking with Richard, Ron (Rosbottom, the Amherst professor who invited Richard to lecture on Paris street art) and Betty (Rosbottom, the cookbook writer) in Amherst, I’m surprised that everyone is speaking English! 
  • The magic of Richard’s lecture in a red-carpeted amphitheater: three and a half years as a photographer and student of Paris street art and history, and he’s mastered both!   
  • I’ve never seen brussels sprouts attached to a stalk as thick as my wrist the way my aunt Susie serves them. The taste of pork for the first time in years. The sweet comfort of family talk with Susie and cousin Kit and his wife, Gayle.



  • The former frat house where my father met my mother: littered with beer cans, scruffy, post-Halloween party. I suddenly realize he was only 18, 19 years old!



  • The bannister one can see from the entrance window that my mother slid down one night (she was really that frisky?) that now has a newel post half way downto stop Betty Heimark from raising hell?

That a young woman, Maia, answers our knock and invites us to come in and have a look around. She leads me upstairs where all the rooms have images of seal pups on the doors, each with different names. Sealye Hall, no longer Alpha Delta Phi, fraternities banned last year, as my trustee father long thought they should be.

The rooms upstairs are tiny, narrow cells, big enough for a bed, desk, chair. The students are expected to be studious monks, but there are traces of another life downstairs.



  • Julia, a student in Ron’s Imagining the European City class, offers after Richard's lecture to give us a tour of the Mount Holyoke campus, where we’ve come to trace the thread of my parents’ lives. She leads us to three waterfalls near bridges. The first is too accessible. The second bridge did not exist in the ‘40s. The third is the most private, a lover’s lane along the wildest waterfall. Here, we’re sure, is where my father proposed to my mother.

It seems amazing to me that a couple might find true love, so deeply suited for a life together, at such a tender age.



  • That my mother, here in the 1942 yearbook in the library, was in the May court, and not the May Queen. She was surely the most beautiful with that sweep of Veronica Lake hair, full Norwegian lips, character and intelligence in her eyes!
  • That the Asian language we hear in the back of the bus belongs to Nepalese students at Amherst, a language we’ve never heard. Long black hair, these women are light in spirit, confident, breezy.
  • That a college friend of Richard’s from the ‘60s would drive all the way from Newport, R.I. to Amherst, Massachusetts to stay overnight there, and drive us the next morning to Brooklyn! Is she in love with him? Getting to know her, I see that she’s just a super generous soul.
  • As we leave Amherst to drive to Williamsburg, New York—there! A lone hawk on a bare winter tree.



  • That our Williamsburg landlady, Iris, has two big coils of hair at her ears like a Navajo maiden! That a big poster of her hangs above the bed, naked with flamenco hair and pose, with two strategically placed red fans! That the bedspread features a giant tiger, brown and yellow striped, with pink nose! That 36 silver swimming trophies line the shelf at the head of the bed!

That reading Iris’s novel combined with an invitation from my friend, Cassandra, sparks a new idea, and I begin writing each morning here in Williamsburg.

  • Meeting Mona’s two-year-old twins: what a fabulous mother she is, organized, disciplined, gay! How happy she and Gabriel are in Brooklyn!
  • The NYC Metro, its grime and darkness, how slow the trains, how crowded, how badly marked the stations! We can’t help but compare them to Paris.
  • How much NYC reminds me of Amsterdam, the Dutch roots, practical, industrious, extraverted. How consistent spirit of place is: NYC, an Artemis city, tough, armored, status-seeking, just as it was when I lived here in the late ‘70s.



  • Brick buildings: I didn’t like them years ago in Cambridge and NYC, don’t like them now. How enduring is taste.
  • Walking one night on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, I discover a 24-hour health food store where a calm Nepalese man presides! In America, rock music rocks—so many memories in each song!


Street art © 2014 Adam Cost

  • In Williamsburg: young "hipsters" with patriarchal beards and short hair, and some with mushroom-like growths on top: a more retrograde, unattractive look I can’t imagine! How can you call a patriarchal look “hip”? The two are an oxymoron.



  • Richard and I set out one day to walk across the Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan. There at the entrance, a sign on the pavement tells us: no pedestrians, bicyclists only. Richard questions a bearded biker.

He says, “No, it’s fine. Just stay to the right. You know, farther on you’ll cross to the left and it’ll be pedestrian only.” 

Richard says, “No, I didn’t know that.” 

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you!” snaps the guy in that brusque NYC way, startling us both. 

The noise of cars and trucks on the bridge is astonishing! It’s a warm day. My side hurts. I drink some water, and then feel fine. The NYC skyline is striking in a hard glittering way.

Halfway across, the man on the bicycle passes us going the other way. He waves, stops to talk. Four kids, a wife who’s a dentist, maybe she can fix Richard’s toothache? But the challenge is more complex, must wait till we get home to Paris. Luckily, Richard has enough prescription codeine for three weeks.



  • We walk to Greenwich Village, cross Washington Square, find 14 Gay Street, the basement apartment where Sam and Betty swear I was conceived. I wave thank you to my father and mother.
  • Two days later in Manhattan, we duck into a Bank of America lobby to wait out the rain, and this man strides by, grinning and waving! Instead of a helmet, he now wears a yarmulke. What are the chances of running into this stranger three times in three days? And then as we wait by a huge red statue for a lunch date with Richard’s cousin, Paul, the no-longer-gruff stranger comes up and asks us if we’re capitalists or socialists. Socialists, we say, but French socialism hurts entrepreneurs and American capitalism hurts its citizens; we’d prefer a system that values both. He, Avi, is a hedge fund trader. He offers to give us a tour of the Stock Exchange. We haven’t time, but we exchange cards. 


Picasso. Les images peuvent être soumises à des droits d'auteur.


  • The painters I loved most at 19 years old, years later, here in MOMA, are the ones I still love: de Chirico, Ernst, Dali, Duchamp, Kahlo, Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso; the ones I didn’t love then, like Cézanne with his baby shit colors, still do nothing for me. A show of Matisse cutouts: Joy! Joy!
  • On the crowded Metro, a man facing me has a red face dripping with sweat, sweat staining his shirt. He stares. Something odd going on. The train is delayed, says the well-trained voice of an actor over the p. a.

“Is this the Four Line?” Sweat Man exclaims to the crowd.

“No, the Five,” a young Latina says.

He gets off the train, stands facing our open door, says, “Thank you, Mother,” and grins. “Thank you, Mother,” and grins. “Thank you, Mother,” and grins. No one looks twice at him!


Van Gogh's palette, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam


  • In Iris’s apartment, I read a novel, Van Gogh’s Bad Café, by Frederic Tuten. An extraordinary visionary feat: Ursula, a woman photographer, moves through space and time between two lovers: Van Gogh in late-nineteenth-century Auvers-sur-Oise, France and Louis in 1990s NYC. The story opens into moments of transcendent beauty, reminiscent of William Blake. And then we meet Frederic for drinks, and he is luminous like his novel.
  • I wondered if I’d be tempted by Brooklyn, find it more appealing than Paris, but no, not even close. Paris is Aphrodite, the goddess to whom we feel closest. Returning to Paris, this place—only Paris!—feels like home. 





"I Love You Touch My Pieces" (Surrealist Translation)

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Pole Ka.

After a three-month break for other writing projects, we're back. Here is an interview in French, by writer Sophie Pujas, of the collagist street artist, Madame Moustache. (Thanks, Veronique Mesnager, for the link). 

Although we understand the French, I wanted to translate it (quickly) for those Paris Play readers interested in wonderful street art, especially collage. So I ran the article through Google Translate. There is something surreal and delightful to us in this fractured translation.


Richard's photographs were taken on a recent morning outing with Madame and her paste-up buddy, Fred le Chevalier, that began with a civilized morning espresso in an 11th arrondissement café. Madame requested that we not show her face.

Here you go:


                              *             *          *

Madame Moustache: "I do not pretend to be outlawed" 
Art - Street Art

Madame Moustache, currently exposed to Sète in the K-Live festival, poetizes streets surrealist collages perfume and retro. 

Where are you from?

I come from a family of artists. My grandfather and my father were painters ... I have always refused to do. Although I've always drawn, I did not feel my shoulders to carry the family tradition ... I was an actress before becoming a designer. I made small drawings, collages, travel diaries when I was traveling, where again I stuck stuff ... I started to collage, because technically, with drawing, I could not express what I wanted. At the same time, I was hanging out in Paris with lots of graffiti. I made my first collage to the Canal Saint-Martin there is a little more than three years. It was a big monkey with an elephant's trunk. It is so fine that it has done me good, I found it easy. It was not crooked, I asked where I wanted ... I started small, and bigger and bigger.

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Pole Ka.

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache

Designer, was already an appropriation of space. He left something in your street work? 

I realize that yes. Especially since recently, I rotated on many objects - things that I can touch to act on it, slightly changing the meaning. In the same way that I am influenced by the images of Epinal. I always like this is a bit hidden, what does not discover at first glance. Hence the fact of choosing objects can I divert, lit and extinguished lamps, build boxes ... I love being surprised. When I like an artist, I like to be surprised that he changed support, colors ... I hate boredom, and I hate that I think of Lady ... So I try to diversify although I think I'll stick still in the street - I love it too. 


Why this retro universe?

I grew up in the workshop of my grandfather, full of old things, and I had the chance to let me touch it. Brushes, palettes, I tripatouillais ... There was a large buffet in his studio, under a large canopy, and I see myself with a book of gold leaf in hand, I had dug there, and he let me browse the sun ... I've always been in the permissive handling is also why I love you touch my pieces! I've kept this messy side - there is always something behind ... I'm very attached to the nostalgia, the taste of childhood ...

But it is a nostalgia plays with irony, offset ...

Always. I do not like people who take themselves seriously. I can not imagine work without me laugh. So I feel that people are laughing looking at my items. Since I put on the street, I need to create something. I did not want to stick something and people do not understand. Even if there is a double or triple meaning in one of my collages, I feel that the first reaction of passers-by or smile. They feel that there is something funny. I stick express day to see the reactions. I just stuck the night, at first, and it did not fit me at all. I am not a vandal, I do not claim to be outlawed. I claim nothing, if not tolerance or questions. I like to discuss, even with some who do not. I understand - I needed something sticky on the street!


Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache
Why the question of identity, such as you take to heart?

Since forever, I asked a lot of questions about it. I think it goes back to a childhood trauma. I had very long hair and one of my friends asked me to play at the hairdresser. I thought she would pretend, and she cut my hair flush ... For several months I was treated boy! I hang with a lot of guys, I do not let me piss ... My work is also related to the fact that today I do not understand how anyone can still judge people on their identity or sexual preferences By what right? I think we're both in us, a little masculine, a little feminine. It is not necessarily predestined to love someone of the opposite sex, we have the right to try both, to test ... You brought me in tolerance.

Mustache with which you sign, it is the emblem of this claim?

Of course! I love bias borders. I like from saying stuff man, or vice versa this very girly picture: a very big makeup guy who rips the heart by saying ultra sensitive stuff you. I really like to mix the two, while trying not tired, not systematic or become redundant. In my cultural journey, I was also influenced by the punk that my brother loved or images transgender 80s.

Where are the images that you use for collages?

Magazines of the early twentieth century until the 70 maximum. After, colors and materials change. I like to keep some obsolete thing. I like the idea of ​​craftsmanship, this is a little damaged, we do not know quite where the image has been edited or not. This is still a story of transgression: transgression of the time, the style ...


Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Fred le Chevalier.

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Fred le Chevalier.
You feel close to a certain tradition of collage - surreal or Dada, for example?

Not at all. Of course, I was in the museum when I was little, and surely I have certain things. But I purposely avoided looking at, I do not want to be influenced. I do not want to dada! When I look at the pastels I did at one time, I think it looks the Chaissac. I did not do it consciously, but I had seen too kid because my parents loved ... And I do not want to spit out something that I was taught there a thousand years! I am afraid of being influenced, but also to compare me. I like to go see something else feed me art that does not look at all like what I do. I love art brut, for example, or photo.

Why decline on objects?

If it runs, is that it touches. I sell very expensive products, not as bags or serigraphs, so that it circulates. I do not pretend to live ...


Artwork © 2014 Fred le Chevalier
You feel in dialogue with other street artists?

Especially with Fred Knight [Fred Le Chevalier]. It much glue to one side of the other. Suddenly our dialogue works, and we're both big on words. He and I, we are very tortured, and is found on many points, such as the genre. But I do not necessarily seek this kind of dialogue. At the moment I tend to go to places where there is nothing. I'm a bit tired of places where garbage, when you arrive, there is already stuff loosely bonded, and finally where you can not see anything, there are more surprise. At first I tried a bit of dialogue with what was there, now it interests me less. And then I make bigger and bigger, so I need walls where there is nothing!


Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache



The Resurrection and Triumph of Fred Le Chevalier



The artist's life has its ups and downs. 

In what now seems like a past life, I worked out of Santa Fe as a traveling art dealer, having canvases by various artists delivered to me by moving van in various cities across the American West, and setting up temporary galleries to show their work, including in a suite at Los Angeles' Chateau Marmont. 

Some of my artists called me often, anxious to see if anything sold. Some trusted to fate, and waited for me to call them. I was sad when I had no good news, elated when I could report that I would bring them back enough money to constitute their first mortgage.

Now, in this community of Paris street artists, Richard and I watch these same fluctuations of fortune, but without the same financial stake.


Last June, we were able to accompany the shy, prolific, gentle knight of Paris street art, Fred Le Chevalier, one of our favorite artists and people, as he pasted up a whimsical street mural to say thank you to Paris Play for allowing our photographs to be used in his first book, when Quel dommage! the police caught up with Fred and threatened him with a fine and jail time for putting his craft on the streets. Our story, which caught the attention of Huffington Post writer Mary Duncan, leaves Fred in limbo, the Damoclean sword of justice poised over his elfin head.

Would he exile himself into the suburbs, or return, rolled posters and paste pots in hand, to the Paris streets?

Can you guess?


Three weeks after his confrontation with the police, we began to see new Freds appearing in the 11th arrondissement, and then spreading outward from there. Since then, we've been able to follow and photograph him a few times alone, and in the company of his fellow street artist, Madame, as he continues pasting his work up and helping friends do the same.


His attitude? If convicted he's willing to do the time, or pay the fine, because the art is paramount. Besides, his work is paper pasteups, which are easily taken back down, and which decay anyway when exposed to time and weather. If he spray-painted, he says, he could understand the attitude of the police and building owners. It's harder to remove, and often it's just adolescent scrawls.

(It's worth noting that the rise of hip-hop culture, which caused a flood of graffiti to wash over every city in the world, helped to criminalize street art here. Where the attitude in Paris was more laissez faire toward poster and stencil artists (who were an important political voice) in the 1980s, the amount of inferior quality, hard-to-remove graffiti and tags caused authorities by the end of the decade to overreact and condemn all street art as vandalism. Seminal French artists like Blek le Rat (inspiration for the British artist Banksy) and Miss-Tic were driven from the Paris streets with onerous fines and jail threats. Thus a Fred Le Chevalier is now equal in the eyes of the law to a 14-year-old with a spray can hidden up his or her sleeve.)

So, we are pleased to report that Fred is back, and his work has grown even larger. Billboard-sized.


Yesterday, Fred was honored by the street artist association, Le M.U.R., by being asked (and paid a 500-euro honorarium by the same city hall that criminalizes art work elsewhere) to create a billboard-sized mural on the billboard they manage legally at rue St. Maur and rue Oberkampf, a scant five blocks from Fred's apartment.

The Le M.U.R. billboard has been going since 2007, and features, every two weeks, the work of an urban artist from somewhere in the world, from Sao Paolo, to New York City, to Barcelona, to name only a few cities. The billboard aims to promote all kinds of street art, and each work's limited shelf life is an homage to the fact that street art is ephemeral by nature. We covered Le M.U.R.s last artist's gathering in November 2011.



But Fred being Fred, the prime exponent of the French troubadour tradition, his Le M.U.R. appearance was not just a chance to decorate a billboard, but for an event, a happening. He designed and created two hundred and fifty masks, each cut out and drawn and colored by hand, and turned the audience into participants at a masked ball celebrating the dance of love. The space was jam-packed. Everywhere you turned there were photographers capturing the play, and the conversations were warm and frolicsome, too.



I was immediately transported into yet another "past life," Berkeley in the late '60s, where I lived in a commune of artists and we created performance art, in which as many as 100 people would create an Event for one person, the aim of which was to transform that person's life, in some small way. Example: a San Francisco poet whose work was lyrical, imaginative and surreal, but who read his work with all the vividness of a banker counting money, and (unbeknownst to him), needed our help in loosening up his performances.

Michael Haimovitz, the ringleader of these Events, invited a group of men and women to a big, elegant house high up in the Berkeley Hills with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. As the poet began to read his poems, the room became warm, overheated, and all the men left, seemingly to try to fix the problem. None of them returned. The poet looked crushed, and kept his eyes locked on the page. As he droned on, some twenty-five women in the room (who were all beautifully, even a bit primly dressed), one by one, shed their silky dresses and lingerie. The next time the poet glanced up from the page, every woman in the room, all of us in our early 20s, was naked. The lights dimmed, and each of us began to chant one phrase from one of his poems. 

Several women cleared his manuscript and glass of water from the long pine table at which he was reading, covered it with a thick cloth, and removed the poet's clothes.



Several other women guided him to lie down on the table and began to expertly massage him, while the chorus of women continued to chant phrases from his poems, and to tattoo him all over with stamps on which the images of his poems were inked.

The whole time he laughed so hard we thought he might melt.

And then he was dressed, and the lights turned off and the women returned to their seats. When the lights were lit again, every woman was fully dressed, legs crossed, listening as attentively as if we were at the Berkeley Library.

And what a performance he gave after that! And ever after, too, including at Radcliffe College to a standing ovation. When he returned to his apartment that night in San Francisco, it was long after midnight. But he had to call someone, had to tell a friend about the Event. He knocked on the door of his neighbors, two women who were in love with each other, and told them the tale of all these naked women. His two friends insisted on helping him wash off the tattoos, and got into the shower with him, as he told them every last detail. (Many of these performance pieces are dramatized more fully in the novel I just completed, "The Book of Twelve.") These Events we did were not for money, not for power, only for love, of one other human being at a time.

Fred's Events, Fred's spirit, remind me of that time in Berkeley in the '60s. He is not motivated by ambition or power or fame, rather by the spirit of love.



So thank you Fred, for persevering in your art in the face of government madness, and for putting love at the center of life, where it belongs. You are truly Aphrodite's chevalier.

As for getting Fred his first mortgage? Buy his work and that dream, too, will happen.



(For a supplement to this post--more pictures from Fred's day at Le M.U.R--see and like Paris Play's Facebook page.)




Happy Bastille Day, Serge!

Artwork (c) 2013 Anthony Lemer

As French fighter jets buzzing the Bastille Day parade on the Champs Elysses thundered over Paris, Paris Play chose instead to cover a labor of love, the redo of the Serge Gainsbourg "permission wall" in the otherwise street-art-averse Saint-Germain-dés-Prés quartier.

The famous wall, at the front of the influential French pop musician's former residence (he died in 1991) was a pilgrimage site for fans from all over the world to leave painted and written tributes, but also had become, in recent years, a mess of unrelated tags and random graffiti.


Street artist/photographer Roswitha Guillemin shows Gainsbourg estate representatives photos of the old artwork on the wall. 

So the estate (now controlled by his daughter, actress-singer Charlotte Gainsbourg) wiped the slate clean.


Artwork (c) 2013 Anthony Lemer

After being approached by street artist Anthony Lemer with a tribute concept--Gainsbourg's face in black-and-white surrounded by his song titles and lyrics and other slogans in various colors--the estate agreed to paint over the wall of graffiti and let Lemer have at it. The artist was not paid; he did it as a labor of love, and completed it Bastille Day morning, using a photograph of Gainsbourg as a model for his careful, subtle spray can work.


Artwork (c) 2103 Anthony Lemer

Gainsbourg (Google him if you're unfamiliar) was a fascinating artist, whose work from the fifties through the eighties encompassed a variety of styles, from pop, jazz, disco and reggae to electronic and funk, and he was considered an influence by artists like Arcade Fire, Air, Beck, Belinda Carlisle, and Jarvis Cocker. The son of immigrant Russian Jews who fled to France in 1917, he was profoundly shaped by the Nazi Occupation (he was forced to wear a star of David during WWII), a theme later incorporated into his work. 

He was also a renown "bad boy" whose lyrics were full of wit, puns and sometimes not-even-oblique references to sex. Eleven years before John and Yoko put her orgasms on their album "Double Fantasy," Gainsbourg recorded "Je t'aime... moi non plus" with his lover (later mother of Charlotte), the English actress Jane Birkin. He later recorded a duet, "Lemon Incest," with a fifteen-year-old Charlotte. But, like the seminal writer, Jack Kerouac, Gainsbourg's last years were a descent into public drunkenness and crankiness, too often caught on video.


A fan wearing what he said was an original T-shirt from Gainsbourg's last gig gets a photo with the artist. Artwork (c) 2013 Anthony Lemer.

However, the thousands of fans who trek to his wall each year, most less adept at art than Anthony Lemer, don't care about his last years, only about his profound legacy that seems to keep growing. French President François Mitterrand said, "He was our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire... He elevated the song to the level of art."

The estate hopes this fresh start will bring a wall of elevated art with it, but, as one street artist in attendance said, "Good luck. This is a free wall, and people will do what they will."


Part of the wall before the white coats of paint.