Paris exhibition displays Chirac-like 18th century Japanese masks

Reuters

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A visitor takes a picture of a Bugaku Japanese mask (18eme) from traditional Kyogen comic theatre that is displayed during the exhibition 'Jacques Chirac ou le dialogue des cultures' at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris, France, June 20, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen A visitor takes a picture of a Bugaku Japanese mask (18eme) from traditional Kyogen comic theatre that is displayed during the exhibition 'Jacques Chirac ou le dialogue des cultures' at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris, France, June 20, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen
Three antique Japanese theater masks that bear a striking resemblance to former French president Jacques Chirac will go on display from Tuesday in a Paris museum he set up 10 years ago and that will now bear his name.
"There are thousands of Chiracs in Japan," said Jean-Jacques Aillagon, who served as culture minister during Chirac's presidency, explaining that the late 18th century masks represent a Japanese theater character that was always carved with similar features.
The museum, which specializes in early art from Africa, Asia and the Americas, will be renamed "Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac".
The exhibition delves into his long-hidden passion for such works of art. The 83-year-old Chirac was better known for his taste for food and beer, and a pundit once said about him: "Men usually read Playboy hidden behind the cover of a poetry book, but Chirac reads poetry behind a copy of Playboy."
Buaku Japanese masks from traditional Kyogen comic theatre are seen during a press visit of the exhibition "Jacques Chirac ou le dialogue des cultures" at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris, France, June 20, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen
Saying she also spoke in his name, Chirac's wife Bernadette told reporters: "France is never greater than when it engages with other cultures, other people. It's a strong message and one that is very relevant now."
Chirac, a center-right politician who was a prominent figure in French politics for decades, was president from 1995 to 2007.
 
 

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