The new tome on Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles.

BOOK CLUB: “I hope they would approve, watching from above,” Jean-Pierre Blanc said Tuesday in Paris at the launch of a 335-page tome on 20th-century art patrons Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, and an accompanying exhibition.

At the exhibition, held at the Galerie du Passage Pierre Passebon, Blanc — founder of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography, which takes place yearly at the Villa Noailles in Hyères — discovered a portrait of Marie-Laure de Noailles by Man Ray that he’d never seen before. Portraits of the couple by fashion figures including Pierre Hardy and Vincent Darré were also on display, as two of 40 personalities including Christian Lacroix invited to collaborate on the project.

“She was the most influential person in the art world at that time; she was a visionary. She was the first to understand the importance of [Paul] Éluard, [Salvador] Dalí, [Joan] Miró; she had a wonderful eye for painting, while he had an eye for sculpture and architecture,” said François-Marie Banier, who said he owes his career as a photographer to them. “For me, she was greater than Peggy Guggenheim in the way that she did it all by herself, with no advisers,” he added. “And she liked scandal more than anything else, because she liked to break things….She was a punk before the punks, a hippie before the hippies, with the most incredible taste.”

French actress Amira Casar read a series of poems and letters penned by Marie-Laure de Noailles in the Thirties to friends including Jean Cocteau and Valentine Hugo. It opened a series of events throughout the day, with still to come a conference and book signing at the former hôtel particulier of Marie-Laure de Noailles on the Place des États-Unis, which is now the Baccarat headquarters, wrapping with a party at Silencio, with entertainment from Eddy de Pretto and Kiddy Smile.

The day’s hosts include Franck Riester, France’s Minister of Culture; Didier Grumbach, president of the Villa Noailles, and Hyères Mayor Jean-Pierre Giran.

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