In Paris, the Mona Bismarck American Center honors Transatlantic art

This art gallery is nestled in a 19th-century private mansion in Paris, and was founded by the Countess Mona Bismarck. Married five times, divorced three times and widowed twice, Mona Bismarck was a leading socialite and a couture patron who left a hub for American culture in Paris. This institution sits on the most American avenue of the capital – the Avenue de New York on the banks of the River Seine. While the site was previously little known to tourists, it shot to fame in 2011 as the hotspot for contemporary American arts and culture in France, offering concerts, performances and exhibitions.

We find ourselves in an immense, empty living room on the ground floor of 34 Avenue de New York in the 16th arrondissement in Paris. The light from the garden slants through the windows, illuminating Salvador Dali’s portrait of Mona Bismarck (1897-1983) above the fireplace. She is sat barefooted on a pedestal, surrounded by ancient ruins, and the work is bathed in a strange, green light. Only her pale face, grey-blue eyes and arched eyebrows radiate from the top of the painting. The portrait was painted in 1943 when Mona


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