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Paris Underground Hardcover – July 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972424075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972424073
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 8.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,264,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Caroline Archer is a designer and a writer on the graphic arts.

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Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

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The pictures are gorgeous and whole thing is simply fascinating.
Geoff Viecco
When I found out that a book was being released about the world below the great city I had to get a copy just to see what's actually under Paris.
Reevo
It is an endlessly interesting and puzzling trek to follow Archer and Parre through these spaces.
Grady Harp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Neely on August 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Paris Underground By Caroline Archer with photos by Alexandre Parre is a book I wish had been published before my most recent trip to Paris, France. Little known to the average citizen of or visitor to Paris, the city was built over the quarries from which stone for the buildings was cut. As the city grew, so did the caverns beneath it until on one fateful day during the reign of King Louis XVI on Dec. 17, 1774, an entire street (near today's Place Denfert-Rochereau )collapsed into the abyss. The King's council to investigate was formed and the finding were so alarming that within three years architects and inspectors set about building reinforcements in the form of inspection galleries, which ultimately (by the mid 1930's) resulted in 177 miles of underground tunnels within these quarries to make the city safe. Although entering these underground passages is forbidden except with express permission, for three centuries artists, musicians, writers, performers, and curious, daring cataphyles have found the lure into the depths irresistable and have made their way through clandestined passages. Through the centuries, because everyone needed to mark his or her way in order not to be lost, and because the bare walls beckoned to be decorated, the passages and quarries became an underground, daring art gallery. This book incorporates a remarkable attempt to catalogue the surreptitious art found beneath one of Europe's most thriving cities of the arts. The historic events, since the earliest graffiti in 1671, have been charted or commemorated, pictured, or commented upon, with drawings, writings, paintings, sculpture, and music created within the labyrinth. While most is primitive art "just for the fun of it," some is quite skilled and reveals great talent.Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Caves as a source of civilization sources have long been a part of cultural studies: what men and women do in the dark underground spaces to communicate their feelings, responses, fears, sensual pleasures. political reasons for escaping the world above at times tell us more than the formal written word. Such may just be the case of this excellent monograph on the tunnels and quarries that weave below the cit of Paris (the City of Light!) by journalist, writer, graphic artist Caroline Archer and architect, photographer Alexandre Parre.

While novels and films (such as Les Miserables) have informed us about part of the underground webs beneath Paris, the more than 177 miles of tunnels that have provided sanctuary for anonymous and illicit visitors for some 300 years. Whether the 'artists' of creation were in hiding from danger or political fears or merely graffiti creators on the rampage since the 1970s when the tunnels were 'discovered' more widely, the status of this underground gallery of art and history is a fascinating source of investigation into urban culture and outsider art.

The book is well designed with copious photographs of the many 'treasures' found and described by the authors. The art ranges from sculpture, to human remnants, to written word, stolen signs and tracts imbedded in the walls, to repeated images of 'Corps Blanc' (White Corpse) that appears to be some sort of mask-like signal to distract visitors' attention or summon fear to exit. Here are recreations of famous art done in incredibly expert fashion as well as some very strange gargoyle like carvings, three dimensional human forms emerging from the walls, clips of historical numbers and data, and both fine original art as well as lurid graffiti.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Reevo on August 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Some people here may remember the news about the La Mexicaine de la Perforation's underground cinema in Paris last year ([...] This story has never really been far from my mind since reading about it. Truly fascinating stuff. When I found out that a book was being released about the world below the great city I had to get a copy just to see what's actually under Paris.

Paris Underground by Caroline Archer & Alexandre Parre (published by Mark Batty) is a great new book dedicated to the Parisian underground art. A history lesson - Quarries started to be dug under the streets of Paris during the twelfth century to provide the raw materials needed to build the city above. At the time no attention was paid to the amount of rock being removed so when one quarry was depleted the workers moved on to dig another. This practise continued on and off till December 17th 1774 when the inevitable happened. The space left by the removal of the stones that built places such as Notre Dame finally gave was as one of the city's streets collapsed into underground darkness. More collapses followed so digging was stopped and task-forces were then set up to check, chart and reinforce the abandoned quarries and the tunnels, of which there are a staggering 177 miles worth, till they were made safe.

The first third of Paris Underground is dedicated to the history of the quarries (La Mexicaine de la Perforation gets a mention) and the official inscriptions that were created by the surveyors & builders. These are most made up of letters and numbers representing dates, depths, relevant engineer's initials and road signs indicating their actual whereabouts in relation to the Paris streets above. However, even this simple text and lettering is really interesting.
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