Under the plain brown wrapper of our copy of L'Apocalypse de Saint-Sever
are 29 color lithographs, reproductions from the famous 11th-century manuscript.
More stunning than the artwork, however, is the publication place and date of this reproduction: Paris, 1942. When I envision occupied Paris I see barbed wire, uniformed Germans patrolling the boulevards, groups of Frenchmen plotting together in basements, unfiltered cigarettes dangling between their lips. Why were the French producing state of the art lithographic reproductions from priceless manuscripts in 1942?
Apparently, life went on. Two hundred and seventy color photographs taken by Andre Zucca during the occupation have recently been exhibited in Paris. The photos show Parisians going about their daily life ? walks in the park, coffee at sidewalk cafes ? and have caused an outbreak of historical angst.
Photo by Andre Zucca
Was Zucca being paid to photograph well-heeled Parisians as part of the Nazi propaganda machine? Did he take the photos for his own use? Where did he get that color film, anyway? Color film as well as the photolithographic process used to create our copy of the Saint-Sever were cutting-edge technologies in 1942.
The exhibition has stirred debate over what life was really like in occupied Paris. The international museum community will be debating the presentation of ? and reaction to ? the Andre Zucca exhibit for years to come.