Mathias_Augustyniak_and_Michael_Amzalag_IMG_9440_cspanglerDownton Abbey or M/M? Paris Photo or John Parkinson?

Lady EdithIn a coincidence of timing longtime frenemies, the French and the British, have launched cultural campaigns in LA that are reaching a crescendo of activity this week.

From the Cultural Services arm of the French Embassy comes “Ceci N’est Pas”, meaning, with inimitable Gallic obscurantism,  “No, This Is Not” (an allusion to Magritte’s Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe, n’est-ce pas?). It is a series of Franco-American collaborations in museums, art centers, art schools and other venues, that started rolling out at the end of last year and are, says Mallery Roberts Morgan, “intended to highlight the artistic intersections between the two cultures.”

Meanwhile from the British comes Britweek – more than a week’s worth of parties, panels, presentations and tours, first launched in LA six years ago by American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe and former British Consul General Bob Peirce, to “highlight the creative fusion” between the United Kingdom and California.

The French offerings include Paris Photo LA, opening this Friday in a stroke of clever marketing in faux New York at Paramount Picture Studios; an exhibit at Art Center College of Design of work by rascally graphic designers M/M, aka Mathias Augustyniak and Michaël Amzalag (shown above left; hear more about them in the interview below with Art Center’s Aaron Smith, below) that closes this weekend.

Green man looks onto LAAlso on show is Architectones, an installation by artist Xavier Veilhan, created by LA-based architect Francois Perrin, in the John Lautner-designed Sheats-Goldstein residence (a sculpture by Veilhan of a green man, intended as John Lautner, stands in the window of the master bedroom, left). This installation follows one by Xavier Veilhan in Richard Neutra’s VDL house and is part of a series of site specific projects in iconic modernist houses, where he  “establishes a dialogue between art and architecture.” Typically, it is very hard to get access to the Sheats-Goldstein house but the installation will be open to visitors this Thursday and Friday.

Add to that a pop-up installation created by French designer Stephane Parmentier (produced by DnA’s very own Mallery Roberts Morgan, who spent many years in Paris) for storied French silverware company Christofle, opening to the public this weekend in Melrose Place.

The Launch Of The Seventh Annual BritWeek Festival "A Salute To Old Hollywood" - Red CarpetBritweek generally feels more cheerfully populist and commercial than Ceci N’est Pas, with lots of UK company sponsorship and more emphasis on tinseltown – actors Misha Barton and Sebastion Knapp (shown here with Britweek’s Sharon Harroun Pierce) were among those sipping from Wedgewood cups filled with champagne and guzzling Fish and Chips at the launch party at the British Consulate last night.

It features a long line-up of events that includes a Brits in Hollywood Bus Tour (April 27), Mannerhouse Manor – An Unscripted Edwardian Melodrama (April 28)Keep Calm and Robertson (April 28), and a Spring Jubilee in downtown Santa Monica, featuring very British crafts, May dances and a landscaping competition.

For those needing a between-season fix, you can attend a Downton Abbey Party – featuring Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) and witty DA executive producer Gareth Neame (listen to an interview with him, below).

300px-Union_Station_profile,_LA,_CA,_jjron_22_03_2012Most importantly for architecture buffs, Britweek is also casting a spotlight on expat Brit John Parkinson, architect of some of the most important civic and commercial buildings in Los Angeles, among them Bullocks Wilshire, City Hall, Union Station, the USC campus and the Coliseum. Events in his honor include a tour of his works downtown, hosted by Stephen Gee, author of Iconic Visiona new book on Parkinson’s work. Get the full list of Britweek events here.

Back in January DnA got a chance to interview Gareth Neame about the way in which the styling and production design of Downton Abbey plays an important role in telling the story of the social and technological changes taking place during the period in which the series is set. Hear that interview below.

MM_opening_IMG_9600_cspangler

And last week, I went to Art Center College of Design and met with Aaron Smith. He teaches illustration at Art Center, not to mention he has a showstopping Pinterest site, and he explained what is so compelling about the “auteur” graphic design work of M/M.

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