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Courtney Traub

Off the Beaten Track: Edith Piaf Memorial in Paris

By June 30, 2010

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This impressionistic memorial to Parisian chanteuse Edith Piaf is easy to miss: it's located on the Square Edith Piaf in a remote corner of northeast Paris, just outside the Porte de Bagnolet Metro station. The bronze statue was commissioned to Lisbeth Delisle by Paris City Hall in 2003 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of "the little sparrow's" death. It also happens to be in close reach of the Tenon Hospital, where Piaf was either born or given emergency care after coming into the world under a lamp on a street in nearby Belleville, according to contradictory accounts, in 1915.

So far reception hasn't been all that warm: critics complain that the statue is lumpy and graceless and doesn't do justice in rendering Piaf, despite attempting to capture her impassioned performance style. What do you think of it? Please leave your comments below.

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Image: ©2010 Courtney Traub.

June 30, 2010 at 6:56 pm
(1) Martha says:

I love Edith Piaf’s music and I saw a movie about her. I actually think the oddness of the statue kind of suits her.

July 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm
(2) François says:

J’adore Paris!

December 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm
(3) kathleen hayes says:

Mlle Piaf deserves a more dignified statue

January 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm
(4) SunDrops4U says:

I can’t see the full length of the work, but at a glance it doesn’t remind me of Piaf. It doesn’t capture her stature at all. The arms are extended too far upward, while Piaf’s were always more outward, as if she were embracing you. The statue looks more like a Moon worshipper, or a rain dancer, although I can’t see the rest of the statue.

However, I didn’t see Piaf in the face, either. I think it should have resembled a very ordinary, very French, young girl singing. Because it was the contrast between simple, down to earth charm, along with that incredibly powerful voice, which made her so appealing.

I agree with the others — it does’t do her justice at all. These matters are very delicate, and the commission for this should have been given more careful consideration, especially when portraying the very attractive character of Edith Piaf to the public.

January 28, 2012 at 9:07 am
(5) cathy arrieta says:

I did not know Edith had a statue to honor her. I should have visited it when I was in Paris. The statue does not look like edith. A statue to honor a person should at least resemble her. It should be redone for art’s sake and for edith’s stasture.

October 17, 2012 at 11:30 am
(6) Kandy Langford says:

Didn’t realize there is a statue of Edith Piaf – I think it’s perfect. Who would want a totally life like tribute to her? Realistic like the statues of wartime soldiers? What makes it mesmorizing is the “idea” of Piaf. It tells of her soul…

July 21, 2013 at 3:27 pm
(7) Barbara Western says:

I have been a lifelong admirer of The Sparrow. Today, July 21, 2013, I made my way to the Place Edith Piaf. I understand both opinions. She was not perfect; she faced tremendous hardships in her life. Thus, the funky cool rendering is somehow befitting of her life. However, I must admit, I looked from every angle, trying to find beauty, and was disturbed by the strange harsh angles the artist chose. I did find absolute joy in the way she captured Piaf’s face, head thrown back, looking up in a mad display of the ecstasy of artistic fulfillment. In any event, her music lives on.

October 2, 2013 at 4:46 am
(8) goparis says:

Thank you for your wonderful feedback, Barbara. I’m glad you enjoyed the sculpture, whatever its aesthetic merits. Thanks for reading! — Courtney

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