“ARRÊTE ! C’EST ICI L’EMPIRE DE LA MORT”: THE ART OF LIFE AND DEATH IN SUBTERRANEAN PARIS (2014-2015)

M.A. Thesis | Institute of Fine Arts, NYU

Abstract
Charles Baudelaire defined modernity as “the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable.” Between 1853 and 1870 Georges-Eugène Haussmann embarked on a radical restructuring and Modernization of Paris. Haussmannization sought to stabilize society as France was picking up the pieces of failed political regimes and revolts that had cycled since the 1789 Revolution. As a culture of anxiety and uncertainty, nostalgia and ambition, consumed the city of Paris, the ancient quarries transformed into a macabre memory box within which the anonymous bones of the city below supported the booming boulevard culture that was emerging above. A uncanny panorama predicated on the monastic traditions of the past, the Paris Catacombs contain the relics of a disappearing city, the memories of the disillusioned.

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