Jean Cocteau at the Benaki Museum

A series of events celebrating French intellectual Jean Cocteau’s relationship with Greece began in Athens on May 17 with the opening of an exhibition, to run until July 29 at the New Benaki Museum on Pireos Street, of interest not only to the Francophone public but to scholars and admirers of Cocteau’s multifaceted life and work. At a press conference this week to mark the opening, the museum’s director Professor Angelos Delivorias, Carole Weisweiller, the daughter of Cocteau’s companion Francine Weisweiller, who is a writer and vice president of the Jean Cocteau Committee, spoke about the events, along with Nana Mouskouri, head of the Focus on Hope – Nana Mouskouri Foundation and sponsor of the exhibition with the support of Emporiki Bank. Also present were actor and director Jean Claude Brialy, honorary head of the Friends of Jean Cocteau. French Institute director Alain Fohr spoke about the events being organized by the Institute and actor and director Stamatis Fasoulis about the performances of Cocteau’s plays to be staged in the museum amphitheater. Fasoulis’s production of «Les Voix Humaines» with Pemi Zouni and Christoforos Papakaliatis will be performed on May 19 and 30. On Monday, May 21, Carole Weisweiller will give a lecture in French titled «Je l’appelais Monsieur Cocteau» (simultaneous translation provided) at the French Institute at 7.30 p.m. (admission is free). The following evening at the New Benaki Museum, a lecture titled «La Grece secrete de Jean Cocteau» will be given at 7 p.m. by Yiannis Kontaxopoulos, a scholar of Cocteau’s work. The exhibition catalog is a true masterpiece, with texts by Michel Bepiox and Yiannis Kontaxopoulos, edited by Xenia Politou. The cover is graced by Cocteau’s black and white lithograph titled Orpheus (1950) from the Stephane Dermit collection. Cocteau (1889-1963) was a poet, novelist, dramatist, filmmaker, artist and one of the most brilliant representatives of France in European culture.