Ronald Katz and Arielle de la Tour d'Auvergne

Background introduction

The Délégation générale de l’Alliance Française aux Etats-Unis and the Federation of the Alliances Françaises in the United States are proposing a lecture on the diversity and richness of French architectural heritage in the United States, from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico.

 American journalist Ronald Katz and French photographer Arielle de la Tour d’Auvergne team up for a lecture to be illustrated by forty slides or by an exhibit, whichever is requested.

France in America, a vast project conducted with the help of the French Heritage Society, contributes to the discovery of more than 150 sites and long-forgotten homes and has been the focus of one book discussion in Paris, at the Mona Bismarck Foundation in 2004, and another will take place at the Maison des Amériques in June 2008.  The work met with such enormous success that it went into a second printing.

Ronald Katz

An American journalist established in Paris for thirty years, Ronald Katz has been a prolific contributor to the economic and travel columns of various newspapers and magazines including the International Herald Tribune, The London Sunday Times, The Business Traveler, Europe and Airline Business.  His current post is that of Editor-in-Chief at the headquarters and main office of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris.  Before settling in France, Ronald Katz worked for eight years in the United States Senate where he was a Speechwriter and Director of Personnel of the Transportation Subcommittee.

Arielle de la Tour d’Auvergne

A French photographer, Arielle de la Tour d’Auvergne is a product of the Black and White Photography School in London and the International Center of Photography in New York.  She has lived and worked for long periods of time in English-speaking countries and is also a regular visitor to Buenos Aires.  Her interests are widely varied.  Not only does she produce subjects for international organizations (The Theodora Foundation) as well as for international magazines (Bilan, Montres Magazine, Monsieur), she is also involved with music and book illustration.  In addition to all this, she is a passionate gardener.

Fascinated by the arts and nature, she has produced France in America. This is a vibrant work of shadow and light infusing life into matter for the purpose of making memory and history come alive again.  It calls into play the muted grays of the galleries and interior spaces of colonial homes, the secrets of convents, the cold atmosphere of military edifices, and the warmer and more shadowed mood of the banks of the Mississippi or the tree-lined drives of southern plantations.  In 1997, she directed an exhibit in the Carousel du Louvre gardens in Paris.

She is currently preparing Earth and Men, in Argentina, a report that links her to her family origins in Argentina.

Format for the talk

In this illustrated lecture, Ronald Katz will address the origins of this heritage, from the simple Creole house in Illinois, Missouri, or Louisiana, to the masterpieces of the Capitol building in Washington, DC.  He will refer to the arrival of the French in North America – the first explorers, the fur trade, the political conflicts with the English, and the religious motives that were the inspiration for colonization, i.e., the Jesuits and the Huguenots.  Arielle de la Tour d’Auvergne will then weigh in on what is at stake when using  photography to capture images of cultural inheritance, the accuracy of quasi-scientific historical evidence, and the requisite esthetic enhancement of the photographic subject.

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Related Sites

  • Fondation Alliance Française
  • Alliance Française de Paris
  • Cultural Services of the French Embassy
  • Federation of Alliance Française USA

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