New Exhibit: Cheap Thrills: The Highs and Lows of Cabaret Culture in Paris, 1880-1939

cabaret couture
Cheap Thrills: The Highs and Lows of Cabaret Culture in Paris, 1880-1939, on exhibit February 18 – May 12 in the Perkins Library Gallery.

On exhibit February 18 – May 12, 2014
Perkins Library Gallery, Duke West Campus (Click for map)
Public Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am–7pm; Saturday, 9am–7pm; Sunday, 10am–7pm
Hours may vary on holidays. Please check our posted library hours for more information.

About the Exhibit

A new exhibit in the Perkins Library Gallery  provides a glimpse into the fascinating world of the Parisian cabaret. Starting in the second half of the nineteenth century, the cabaret became a fixture of Parisian culture. Unlike other social institutions of the time, everyone was freely admitted to these venues, so they became a space in which all—regardless of race, color, class, or creed—could freely mingle. Cheap Thrills: The Highs and Lows of Cabaret Culture in Paris, 1880-1939, seeks to shine the spotlight on the wide spectrum of artists who found a home and a stage in the darkened halls of the cabaret.

Illustrated cabaret sheet music from Gil Blas Illustre, a French periodical from the late-19th to early 20th centuries.

Music was, of course, essential to the cabaret. It animated the crowd, roused the performers, and vivified the dancing. In order to capture power of cabaret music, members of the Duke New Music Ensemble composed and recorded songs for the exhibit. Based on historical cabaret tunes, these songs represent a modern take on a classic experience. The graphic and print materials composing the exhibit all come from the collections of the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Lilly Library, the Music Library, and Perkins Library.

Related Events and Programs

In addition to the Perkins Library exhibit, there are several related exciting events and programs throughout the spring semester that explore the unique social and cultural significance of the cabaret.

The Nasher Museum of Art is exhibiting a coordinating collection of cabaret material in their Academic Focus Gallery. Be sure to check out Night in the City of Light: Paris’s Cabarets 1881-1914, on exhibit February 15 – June 29, 2014.

In addition to the exhibit, the Nasher Museum will be screening French Cabaret from Stage to Screen on March 22, at 2 p.m. The screening is free and open to the public.

The Duke New Music Ensemble will have two concerts featuring cabaret music. On April 6 at 5 p.m., the Ensemble will be presenting “Melodies and Cacophonies from Paris’s Cabarets” at Fullsteam Brewery in downtown Durham.  Later in the month, on April 13, the Ensemble will be hosting their Spring Concert in Baldwin Auditorium at 8 p.m. featuring selections from cabaret tunes.

Life Is a Cabaret: The Library Party

Last, but certainly not least, the entire Duke community is invited to experience the cabaret first-hand, right in the heart of Perkins Library. The annual Duke Library Party, whose theme this year is “Life Is a Cabaret,” will take place this Friday, February 21, from 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. The evening will feature appetizers and desserts from Durham Catering; music from the John Brown Band, the Duke New Music Ensemble, and student DJs; and free giveaways to the first 200 guests. Come in your best cabaret or cocktail attire and prepare to dance the night away!

Library Party Logo for web

When: Friday, February 21
Time: 9:00 p.m. to Midnight
Where: Perkins Library
Admission: Free
Dress: Cocktail Attire, or Your Best Cabaret Costume

The Library Party is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Office of the President, SOFC/DSG, George Grody, Markets and Management Studies Department.

The exhibits and programs are sponsored by the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies; Department of Music; Department of Romance Studies; Department of Theater Studies; Program in Literature; Program in Women’s Studies; Center for European Studies; Center for French and Francophone Studies; Friends of Duke University Libraries; Duke University Libraries; and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.