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Crossing the culture

‘In the good old days, everyone was nostalgic.’

Few cities have been as idolised and idealised as Paris. I’m sure that I’m not alone in having covered the walls of my room with black and white memorials to the iconic Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees and Moulin Rouge. These images travel with me, ‘a moveable feast’.

Rachel Thorpe

Ernest Hemingway gave the city this epigram during the years that the flamboyant, feverish transition from wartime to modernity took place. The everlasting was gradually being knocked aside by the fashionable, under Baudelaire’s rallying cry, ‘Modernity is the transient, the fleeting, the contingent; it is one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immovable’.1 With ‘modernism’ as the artistic watchword, the Western world seemed to be departing from its Christian roots, replacing traditional devotion with nostalgia for church paraphernalia.