cest la vie

Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (1937)

The Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (International Exposition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life) was held in 1937 in Paris, France. The Musée de l'Homme was created at this occasion.


Among the most notable exhibitions of the fair was the Spanish Pavilion. The fair took place during the Spanish Civil War; the pavilion of the embattled Second Spanish Republic included Pablo Picasso's famous painting "Guernica", a depiction of the horrors of war.

Two of the other notable pavilions were those of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The organization of the world exhibition had placed the German and the Soviet pavilions directly across each other. Hitler had desired to withdraw from participation, but his architect Albert Speer, who had by coincidence seen the Soviet pavilion plans while visiting Paris, convinced him to participate after all, showing Hitler his plans for the German pavilion.

Plagued by delay, at the opening day of the exhibition, only the German and the Soviet pavilions were completed. This, as well as the fact that the two pavilions faced each other, turned the exhibition into somewhat of a personal competition between the two great ideological rivals.

Five hundred feet high, Speer's pavilion was completed by a tall tower crowned with the symbols of the Nazi state: an eagle and the swastika. The pavilion was conceived as a monument to "German pride and achievement". It was to broadcast to the world that a new and powerful Germany had a restored sense of national pride. At night, the pavilion was illuminated by floodlights. Speer later revealed in his autobiographies that he had had a clandestine look at the plans for the Soviet pavilion, and had designed the German pavilion to represent a bulwark against Communism.

Vera Mukhina designed the large figurative sculpture on the Soviet pavilion for the exhibition, whose architect was Boris Iofan. The grand building was topped with a large momentum-exerting statue, of a male worker and a female peasant, their hands thrusting a hammer and a sickle together, in a symbol of communist union.


At the presentation, both Speer and Iofan, who also designed the Palace of Soviets that was planned to be constructed in Moscow, were awarded gold medals for their respective designs. Also, for his model of the Nuremberg party rally grounds, the jury granted Speer, to his and Hitler's surprise, a Grand Prix.

Artist Johanne deRibert Kajanus, mother of composer Georg Kajanus and film-maker Eva Norvind, granddaughter of composer and conductor Robert Kajanus, and grandmother of actress Nailea Norvind, won the bronze medal for her life-size sculpture of 'Mother and Child' at the exhibition.

Polish engineers from Warsaw won the gold medal for new Polish locomotive Pm36-1 PKP class Pm36.

Festivals of the Exposition

  • May 23 The Centenary of the Arc de Triomphe
  • June 5-13 The International Floralies
  • June 26 Motorboat races on the Seine
  • June 29 Dance Festival
  • July 3 Horse Racing
  • July 4-11 Rebirth of the City
  • July 6-7-8 Midsummer Night's Dream (In the gardens of Bagatelle)
  • July 21 Colonial Festival
  • July 27 World Championship Boxing Matches
  • July 30-August 10 The True Mystery of the Passion (before Notre Dame Cathedral)
  • September 12 Grape Harvest Festival
  • Forty Two International Sporting Championships
  • Every Night: Visions of Fairyland on the Seine


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