Collection-Piollet

Interwar years 1920-1940


As Joséphine Baker sang so well: « I have two loves : my country and Paris » - one could not but love interwar Paris. A multifaceted city which was so attractive to foreigners, Paris was the flagship of the Golden Twenties, the international beacon of fashion, art and spectacle. The map of Paris drawn by ZIG for the finale of the revue “Un coup de folie”, staged at the Folies Bergère in April 1930, is an extremely faithful depiction of the Paris of the time.
Nowadays, most of the features on the map are no longer familiar to us. And yet, at the time, each of them had a precise role and corresponded to a district or a function which was indispensable.
Let us have a closer look at the map:

Les music-halls
The Moulin Rouge is still a music hall but the Casino de Paris and the Folies Bergère have become mere showrooms and have broken away from the tradition of revues. What distinguished interwar show business was the revue. The majority of theatres, even the most traditional, were unable to escape the vogue for revues. It was even compulsory to produce a revue. Without them, American musicals would not be what they are today. No period has ever witnessed such a craze for a precise type of show as the revue. This period lasted less than 30 years but left a strong mark. Who has never heard of Mistinguett, Joséphine Baker or Maurice Chevalier? It is difficult to count the staggering number of artists, musicians, draughtsmen, set painters, costume designers, technicians, revue writers and other contributors to revues. The public did not tire of the genre and everyone wanted to be the first to discover a new revue. For the high dignitary and the factory worker alike, the revue was not to be missed. At a revue, spectators enjoyed laughing, admiring stage effects or the effervescence of the costumes. The revue was synonymous with relaxation and enabled one to forget one’s everyday life. The Second World War, albeit not the main reason, marked the decline of this genre which afterwards became a nostalgic evocation of an era of unbridled mirth.

This Paris of the thirties may seem outdated to us, yet how fun it was at the time!
The city bustled with economic as well as cultural and sporting activities. Everything was possible there: to go to a theatre without booking in advance, to go for a night dance in one’s district, to sing in public without necessarily having to be a professional, to enjoy oneself at funfairs, to do sport, to meet artists on the terrace of a café, to go home late at night and observe the setting up of the market, to find work easily…
In a relaxed and informal atmosphere, almost carefree, people lived to the full. They forgot the last war and the next one was not yet on the horizon.


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