Meet Ambre Chalumeau: Culture Columnist on the Quotidien

Ambre Chalumeau on the Quotidien show © Ambre Chalumeau

This week, Artsper had the opportunity to meet Ambre Chalumeau, a columnist on the Quotidien show where she is in charge of the "La Bac" (Brigade of Cultural Affairs) segment and the creator of the @destableauxpartout account, which transposes artworks into real-life situations through a humorous tone. She takes us through her personal and professional journey where outings to cinemas in the Latin Quarter and Parisian museums became a gateway into the world of culture and art.

1. Hello Ambre! Can you introduce yourself and explain your background?

My name is Ambre, I don't have a middle name because, as my mother likes to say, "we struggled enough to find one." I'm 26 years old, born and raised in Paris, and I joined the Quotidien show 3 years ago to take care of the cultural segment, which is an incredible privilege. Before that, I did a literary preparatory class, in which I was really bad, and then I went on to finish my studies at CELSA, in the Media Studies section. I did my final internship at the Society magazine, which was an amazing experience. I even managed to pitch a huge dossier on the movie "La Boum" for So Film on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, which was a kind of life goal for me... And there I met Marc Beaugé, who is not only brilliant but also incredibly kind, and one day he offered to introduce me to the editor-in-chief of Quotidien. We quickly started talking about culture because... well, I don't think I can talk about much else. 

2. You work on the "Quotidien" show as a columnist. How do you construct your segments? What inspires you?

The idea is to cover cultural news, or alternatively, cover current affairs through the lens of culture. So either we decide to take a break from the burning news to talk about something beautiful, like a painter's exhibition, a filmmaker's retrospective, a new book release, or a trend in the art world... Or we find ways to shed light on current affairs through culture, which often provides a very relevant perspective. If we talk about the war in Ukraine, the question of Ukrainian culture and identity is extremely interesting. If we talk about police violence, there are numerous artists who have addressed the issue and whose work we can showcase. And right now, culture is undergoing many transformations, exploring new feminist and inclusive readings, and there's also the whole question of soft power... I think what I love the most is profiling artists or recommending old books that I've loved and trying to convey that enthusiasm. When people tell me that we inspired them to try a work of art or an artist, and they loved it, it's the best compliment.  

LeftAmbre © Ambre Chalumeau / Right: The New Year x Bacchus Buvant, Guido Reni, 1623 © Ambre Chalumeau

3. You also run an Instagram account, @destableauxpartout, where you humorously connect everyday images with artworks. How did you come up with this idea? In your opinion, is social media essential for promoting art and culture to younger generations today?

It all started when my editor-in-chief introduced me to the painter Wayne Thiebaud. I saw one of his ashtray paintings and thought it would be funny to juxtapose it with a photo like a mirror... Then I saw one of his black shoe paintings and noticed that Paul Gasnier had the same shoes: I took a photo, and that was the first collage for the account. Since then, I've collected many paintings on my computer and I search for them in real life, like playing Pokémon Go, or sometimes I recreate them. 

Social media is an incredible opportunity to connect people with art. Museums are undoubtedly wonderful, but you have to live nearby and dare to go there... On social media, not only is everything accessible, but there are also so many creative people who introduce artworks, and I'm highly admiring of them. It's clearly one of the best aspects of social media. For example, on Instagram, I follow accounts like awarewomenart and thegreatwomenartists, which introduce me to fascinating women. For fashion history, I love the sapecommejadis account, which is brilliant and super funny. And then there are accounts like matchwithart, arts_and_ads, or artbutmakeitsports, which offer highly entertaining and humorous formats that are understandable to everyone, but they are actually true artistic Trojan horses: anyone can accidentally discover a painting, be captivated by it, google the artist's name... It opens up so many possible entry points.

4. What is your personal connection to art? Where can one find you in artistic venues in your free time?

When I was a student or a freelancer with plenty of free time, I spent a lot of time in the cinemas of the Latin Quarter that screened old films, during evening or afternoon screenings when there were fewer people. I had incredible experiences there, and I absolutely loved it to a tremendous extent.  

As I grew older, I was able to take advantage of Paris' privileged network of museums and galleries. For example, I really enjoy the Galerie de l'Instant, which always has great exhibitions. I also adore the exhibitions at the Philharmonie de Paris, as they always create a unique atmosphere and ambiance. It's a real avenue to explore in order to bring young people back to museums. And as for my favorite museum, I believe it would be the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. I greatly admire their scenography, especially for their fashion exhibitions. The ones on Harper's Bazaar and Schiaparelli were exceptional.

Left: Paul G.'s shoes x Black Shoes, Wayne Thiebaud, 1963 © Ambre Chalumeau / Right: Hair wash, 2023 x Self Portrait, Abdul Mati Klarwein, 1957 © Ambre Chalumeau

5. At Artsper, we like to think that we make contemporary art a bit more accessible to everyone. What advice would you give to young art and culture enthusiasts who would like to venture into this field?  

Firstly, I would say immerse yourself in culture, devour it from all angles. Nowadays, there is an incredible range of options at your fingertips, from documentaries and YouTube channels to websites like Artsper or Google Arts and Culture, as well as online MOOCs like those offered by the Centre Pompidou. All great artists were first great fans, and great authors were avid readers. I would also advise not to limit yourself, not to think that you're "not smart enough" or "not cultured enough" to explore cultural content. Revering an artist is one thing, but sanctifying them to the point of inaccessibility is a shame. Whether it's in cinema, art, or literature, there is an overwhelming amount of content that has been created, far too much for us to consume in a single lifetime. So, allow yourself to have enjoyable moments and prioritize the ones that resonate with you. There are also so many lesser-known artists who deserve attention! It's mind-blowing, and unfortunately, traditional media may not necessarily talk about them, so it's crucial that many people become fans, specialists, and share their enthusiasm with others.

6. Do you personally collect art? Which contemporary artists resonate with you?  

I'm not yet a true collector, but I'm fortunate to have received some really beautiful gifts. A fantastic photo of Sylvie Vartan by Jean-Marie Périer, a photo of The Beatles by David Bailey, a painting by Guy Peellaert... For now, those are my treasures, and I already consider it a huge stroke of luck.  

If I could, I would buy photographs by Japanese photographers like Daido Moriyama. Paintings by Ana Eva Bergman, with their blue, black, gold, and silver tones... A large pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama... Paintings by Wayne Thiebaud or Jean Philippe Delhomme. I really like Delhomme's portraits and his depictions of California gas stations. I also adore the work of the young artist Sacha Poliakoff, and I recently discovered the painter Mary Clerté. Her women with smudged lipstick would make excellent covers for feminist noir novels.

LeftAmbre © Ambre Chalumeau / Right: Game of mikados x Broadway Boogie-Woogie, Piet Mondrian, 1943 © Ambre Chalumeau

7. Can you tell us about a future project you're working on or would like to work on?  

I would love to have more time for my Instagram account, @Destableauxpartout. Ideally, I would create small profiles or information cards about the artists I feature... but unfortunately, that's a bit utopian for now.

8. If you could have dinner with a personality from the art world, whether alive or deceased, who would it be and why?  

A thrilling and clever choice would be Jean-Paul Gaultier. He is hilarious, generous, and captivating to listen to. We could talk about fashion, music, cinema, art, literature... and all the incredible people he has been associated with. There would be no risk of getting bored, and I dare to think that he is one of those idols you are not disappointed to meet.  

Jean-Paul, if you're reading this, I have mastered lemon chicken and parmigiana. You are welcome to come for dinner WHENEVER YOU WANT.

Their favorite artworks

Print, La Fille aux bas de soie sur le Tabouret / The Girl with silk stockings sitting on the stool - 1910 (Sitzende mit gerafftem Rock / Seated Female Semi-Nude in Patterned Dress, Her Head Resting on Her Right Knee), Gustav Klimt

La Fille aux bas de soie sur le Tabouret / The Girl with silk stockings sitting on the stool - 1910 (Sitzende mit gerafftem Rock / Seated Female Semi-Nude in Patterned Dress, Her Head Resting on Her Right Knee)

Gustav Klimt

Print - 87 x 59 cm Print - 34.3 x 23.2 inch


Print, Les amoureux / Lovers - 1909, Egon Schiele

Les amoureux / Lovers - 1909

Egon Schiele

Print - 54 x 50 cm Print - 21.3 x 19.7 inch


Print, Empreinte I, Simon Hantaï

Empreinte I

Simon Hantaï

Print - 19.5 x 13 x 1 cm Print - 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.4 inch


Photography, Porto Ercole - 1973 Slim Aarons Limited Edition Estate Stamped Print, Slim Aarons

Porto Ercole - 1973 Slim Aarons Limited Edition Estate Stamped Print

Slim Aarons

Photography - 152.4 x 101.6 cm Photography - 60 x 40 inch


Photography, Dolores Guinness - Slim Aarons Limited Edition Estate Stamped Print, Slim Aarons

Dolores Guinness - Slim Aarons Limited Edition Estate Stamped Print

Slim Aarons

Photography - 101.6 x 101.6 cm Photography - 40 x 40 inch


Print, The Youth (John Cheim), Alice Neel

The Youth (John Cheim)

Alice Neel

Print - 96.5 x 61 cm Print - 38 x 24 inch


Print, Couple Endormi, 1909 | Sleeping Couple, 1909, Egon Schiele

Couple Endormi, 1909 | Sleeping Couple, 1909

Egon Schiele

Print - 50.5 x 47 x 1 cm Print - 19.9 x 18.5 x 0.4 inch


Print, La chevelure, Henri Matisse

La chevelure

Henri Matisse

Print - 69 x 49 x 0.1 cm Print - 27.2 x 19.3 x 0 inch


Photography, Record No.6, Daido Moriyama

Record No.6

Daido Moriyama

Photography - 17 x 24 cm Photography - 6.7 x 9.4 inch


Print, Untitled, Alexander Calder


Alexander Calder

Print - 65 x 49.7 cm Print - 25.6 x 19.6 inch


Print, Harbor 10, 2006, Alex Katz

Harbor 10, 2006

Alex Katz

Print - 60 x 50 x 0.1 cm Print - 23.6 x 19.7 x 0 inch


Print, Figures on beach, Alex Katz

Figures on beach

Alex Katz

Print - 34.8 x 50 x 0.1 cm Print - 13.7 x 19.7 x 0 inch


Print, Le tablier, Simon Hantaï

Le tablier

Simon Hantaï

Print - 27.5 x 21 x 1 cm Print - 10.8 x 8.3 x 0.4 inch


Design, Pumpkin Yellow, Yayoi Kusama

Pumpkin Yellow

Yayoi Kusama

Design - 7.5 x 9.5 x 7.5 cm Design - 3 x 3.7 x 3 inch


Print, Orange Building, 2019, Jean-Philippe Delhomme

Orange Building, 2019

Jean-Philippe Delhomme

Print - 29 x 36 cm Print - 11.4 x 14.2 inch