Genius can be mysterious. It’s like some extra sense for transcendence, one that is both polarizing and potentially attractive in the deepest sense. The ingenuity of the foremost painters of the 20th century, including their methods, such as the flash of brilliance that darted across their eyes as they flourished canvasses before them, were predominantly unknown until now. Ironically, or perhaps most appropriately, it is the grandson of Pablo Picasso, Olivier Widmaier Picasso, whose curated photographs of painters in action, among them his grandfather Pablo drawing a model posing for him, which have spotlighted the compendium of genius, maybe even prompting more questions about the mystery. The more than 30 photographs of the exhibit, titled “Revealed,” is on display for the curiously minded at the Riviera 31 Bar & Lounge in the Sofitel Hotel in Beverly Hills, and will run through June 30th.
Some of the other artists featured in the collection put together by Olivier include a who’s who of all-time greats, like Henri Matisse, Salvador Dalí, Marc Chagall, as well as Jean Cocteau, Fernando Botero, and Francis Bacon. In the one of Matisse by photographer Walter Carone, the 85-year-old legend in 1950 is shown bedridden, yet ingeniously using a six-foot utensil to draw on his bedroom wall. The photo of Dalí by Manuel Litran shows the Catalan-born artist reclining on a wheelbarrow while painting, seemingly oblivious to a rhinoceros in the background admiring a work of art (by Dutchman Johannes Vermeer), which happens to be affixed to the top of a cave. The photo of Chagall by Izis Bidermanas is also awe-inspiring, offering a look at the Parisian painter sitting on a stack of wooden pallets, facing a never-ending wall of blue-hued canvas, which would become the new ceiling of the Paris Opera House.
Certainly, words don’t do the photographs justice, because it’s owed to the imagination of each individual to see them first-hand, not unlike the actual works of art by these artists on display in top museums around the world. Though there is more incentive to visiting the Riviera 31 lounge, as opposed to a museum, since there is moreover a “Collection d’ Art” menu of appetizers inspired by the photos. Chef Victor Boroda is responsible for three menus, underscoring the three distinct artistic styles, that will each run for a limited time during the stay of the exhibit. The first is “Cubism,” ending May 10th, and includes a delicious Beef Tartare appetizer and the “Guernica” margarita; the second is “Surrealism,” highlighted by the Veloute of Garlic and the “Son of Man” cocktail; and the third is “Fauvism,” with the Tuna Carpaccio and “Kees” cocktail.
If the opportunity to snack and marvel inside the makeshift “museum” isn’t tempting enough, there are often exciting entertainment festivities that run each night of the week at the Riviera 31, many of them of the dance variety. So yes, this might be one of the few places, if not the only one, in the world where you can drink, eat, nourish your eyes with beautiful photographs, and do the tango.
Riviera 31 Bar & Lounge at the Sofitel Hotel in Beverly Hills
8555 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
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