Alliance Française: Marvelous May







The Alliance Française de Chicago celebrates a blockbuster month of May, demonstrating its facile and fascinating way of providing a forum where people may connect with the global French-speaking world. The Eyes of Morocco benefit taking place on May 15 marks a partnership with Chicago artist Sandro Miller, who will discuss his portrait photographs with Natasha Egan, Executive Director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and afterwards guests will enjoy a buffet of Moroccan flavors and sensations created by Dominique Tougne of Chez Moi.


A shepherd photographed by Sandro Miller.

We asked the Alliance’s executive director, Jack McCord, to tell us about Eyes of Morocco: “Sandro Miller has created new work that embodies the particular nobility of his Moroccan subjects. His lighting is brilliantly done. These 40 photographs, part of a larger group of 250 Moroccan portraits, have not been shown before, and will be hung in an installation especially for our event.

“We’re calling it a black and white fundraiser for the Alliance, in deference to his noir et blanc images, but the dress is ‘casual cocktail.’ The evening benefits the educational and cultural programs of the Alliance Française. Doors open at 5.30 p.m. for a VIP ‘up close and personal’ tour of the works hour led by Sandro.

“Some background: every other year, alternating with the spectacular Woman’s Board gala coming up in 2020, the Alliance holds a fundraiser on a variety of themes. In the past we’ve centered on wine, vintage autos, music, and this year, we’re partnering with Sandro. We will have a live auction of three of his works as well”

Alliance Française Program Director Aimee Laberge added: “The Alliance Française of Chicago provides a forum where people can discover and connect with the global French-speaking world, its culture, its customs, and its language, to promote lifelong learning and cultural understanding. The Eyes of Morocco portraits—bread maker, shepherd, or snake charmer—by award-winning photographer Sandro Miller bring beauty and diversity to the Alliance.”


Another powerful portrait by Sandro.

Les Dames Extraordinaires: Passion and Art in the Lives of Three Parisiennes is the newest of the Alliance’s yearly Symposiums on the Arts of France series. The programming, offered in English and open to the public, is chaired by Myriam Bransfield and Mary Blust. The steering committee is comprised of Solange Brown, Gloria Groom, Janis Notz, Bersey Pinkert, and Isabelle de la Vauvre, with Conery Hoffman as program manager.

Earlier this week, Gloria Groom, clad in sneakers having just come from the Art Institute, where she was installing the magnificent Manet exhibit she has curated, but elegant as always, shared the story of artist’s muse and fashion influencer Misia Sert as part of the lecture program.

On May 22 author and Williams College professor Carol Ockman will present “Sarah Bernardt: The Art of High Drama.” Dubbed the greatest artist in the Western world, the Divine Sarah was best known for her death scenes.


Carol Ockman. Photo by Wit McKay.


1876 Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt by Georges Clairi from the collection of the Petit Palais.

Scholar and curator James Birchfield titles his June 5 lecture “Greater than Gatsby: Mona Bismarck.” Photographed by Cecil Beaton and painted by Salvador Dali, Mona Bismarck married five times, including the most handsome man in America, the richest man in America, an Italian count, and the grandson of Otto von Bismarck.


Notre Dame Aquarel by Dominique Goubau.

To sort out the history, the meaning, and most of all, the future of Notre Dame de Paris, Alliance welcomes Jean Luc Marion, theologian, member of the Académie Française, and a frequent lecturer at the University of Chicago, on May 20.


Theologian Jean Luc Marion.

Jean Luc Marion will be in conversation with Thomas Pavel, professor in the Department of Romance Languages of the University of Chicago. The program is in English and is a unique opportunity to hear about the deeper meaning of the devastation created by the April 15 fire, and the hope invested in its reconstruction through the words of a renowned philosopher.

Since the news of fire and the extensive damage it caused, people have been leaving sympathy bouquets at the Alliance and a guestbook is available there for people to write messages to be sent to Paris.


For more information about Eyes of Morocco and other programming, visit or call 312-337-1070.