Saturday, December 30, 2017

Comics, Christmas and the Mona Lisa: New Interview with the Hereditary Grand Duchess

Photo: Place Royale
Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie has given an interview to Belgian TV show Place Royale talking about her love for art, books, her patroages and how she spent her Christmas. (The interview was actually broadcast just before Christmas but we only got around to covering it now, so imagine it's December 23 for the interview's sake.) You can watch the full interview also over on Facebook

Here's a summary of what was said.

Asked if she is more into classic arts or more modern, the Hereditary Grand Duchess says that you are never 100% into classic art or 100% into modern art, but that it depends on the time, the place, your mood and so on, just like it is with music for example. She explains that she isn't very creative herself or very skilled with her hands but she that she has an artistic soul in the sense that she admires the artists very much.

Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie also recalls a visit to the Louvre with her mother when she was a young girl. She explains that there is not a real history of arts in her family when asked how she became first interested, but that there is this specific anecdote: When she was very young (between 4 and 6 years old) her mother took her to Paris and really wanted to take her to the Louvre but feared that Stéphanie wouldn't understand anything or wouldn't care about this many paintings and other works of art. Still, her mother decided to take her there but only to see the Mona Lisa and they stayed in front of it for 20 minutes and her mother explained her everything about the Mona Lisa and that moment stuck with her ever since. 

The Hereditary Grand Duchess also reveals that museums are a pleasure and not an obligation to her. She adds that this is a lesson she learned from that visit to the Louvre with her mother. If she only visits half of a museum and then she gets tired or she has already had too much new infos, she leaves because she knows she'll be able to come back another day when she feels like it to see the other half. This way, visiting a museum always is a pleasure. 

Asked which composers she likes best, Stéphanie replies that there are three categories: Artists she listens to, those she plays and those she wishes she was able to play. Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Paganelli all fall into the first category; she adds that she doesn't really play music from specific composers but more the musics you generally play when you learn how to play and that she has started playing the piano again recently, and those she would like to be able to play include Tchaikovsky. She tells the story of how she started to learn to play the violin when she was 12 because she wanted to play the Concerto of Tchaikovsky, after her brother gave her an album of Tchaikovsky and she fell in love with the Concerto, but she was never able to.

About her visit to the Biennale in Venice this year, the Hereditary Grand Duchess says that she really enjoyed learning more about the artists personally and she also likes promoting them both in Luxembourg and abroad. She adds that it is important for every country to promote what their strength is and that she is happy to be part of it even though she isn't sure if she would call herself an ambassador.

Questioned whether it is difficult to promote Luxembourgish arts because the Grand Duchy is such a small country, she says that she doesn't agree. She adds that in neighbouring in Belgium, for example, there aren't too many artists who are well known abroad either. She's been living in Luxembourg for five years now and she really sees a difference in the sense that more Luxembourgish artists have made a name for themselves even internationally compared to five years ago. 

About being an ambassador of the artists inside the country when they receive foreign guests, for example the Duchess of Cambridge, Stéphanie says that when she and Guillaume travel abroad they can only talk about Luxembourg's artists but that it is a great advantage when people come to Luxembourg, they can experience the artists first hand. Together with the Duchess of Cambridge, she visited two museums and believes the Duchess really enjoyed what she saw

Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie describes Luxembourg and its artists as influenced by both the Germanic and Latin cultures with a very strong own identity, which brings out a very varied and often surprising mix of artists. To showcase the variety of Luxembourgish art, she reveals that a new and bigger exhibition of Des Mains de Maîtres will take place in December 2018.

The Hereditary Grand Duchess also gives her thoughts on Luxembourgish cinema, which isn't very well known abroad but that it does exist with a lot of the movies co-produced with neighbouring Belgium. Stéphanie adds that she loves cinema because cinema makes you dream and travel. Being able to see behind the scenes, due to her position, is a really good bonus for her. She adds with a laugh that she doesn't think she would be a good actress although she would enjoy to do more to promote the movies. They also laugh at the possibility of her and Guillaume being on stage one day playing piano (her) and guitar (him).

The interview then turns to another part of the arts: Literature. The Hereditary Grand Duchess tells that she reads a lot in German and French. She loves starting books but she never finishes them so she is always reading five books at the same time. (I hear ya, girl!) She usually reads a serious story, a more lighter one and for sure always a comic - a Belgian influence - at the same time. Her favourite comic is Asterix in Belgium.

Stéphanie then talks about another one of her patronages, Les Amis des Musées. She says that usually every museum has its own association but that in Luxembourg six of the biggest museums have one association. She likes it this way as it allows more cooperation between the museums. In addition, the people who want to be part of the association because they like one museum, easily get the chance to  discover the others too.

Towards the end of the interview, the Hereditary Grand Duchess says that she and her husband will spend Christmas with her family at her father's home in Belgium. She says that generally there are like every other family spending Christmas and not the Grand Ducal Family. The interviewer then asks the Hereditary Grand Duke, who is backstage, to not listen as her asks Stéphanie if she has already bought his present. She answers that she did and that it is well hidden. Asked if Guillaume asked for anything specific, she says that he did for St. Nicholas (December 6) but that the Christmas present is a complete surprise - and that the present he bought her is as well.

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