Tangled brushes and other French art phrases you can hear


The Paris international art fair, FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain), opens to the public today (October 21). The annual event, which first took place in 1974, will run until October 24 at the Grand Palais Ephémère.

The fair invites galleries, collectors and art lovers to sell, buy and admire contemporary art in all its forms: sculpture, installations, photography, painting and digital arts.

We examine three French expressions related to art:

Tangling brushes (literally “mix your brushes”):

This expression, coined in the 20th century, means to be confused or to stumble. While we think of brushes today, in the Middle Ages the word ‘pinch’ had two meanings: it could be a part of a deer’s hoof or a crowbar.

In connection with the paws of animals, ‘pliers’ came to refer to the end of a human limb, such as the hand or the foot in everyday language of the 19th century.

Finally, in the twentieth century, ‘pliers’ become ‘paint brushes’ (brushes), which we mean in today’s expression. However, the expression does refer to the old colloquial meaning of ‘paint brushes’ – feet. Getting tangled up with your feet – or brushes – therefore means tripping, either literally (not being able to walk) or figuratively (being confused).

Not being able to see something / someone in painting (literally ‘not being able to see something in the painting’):

When the French say that, it means they really don’t like someone and can’t stand watching them in any form. The expression can also be used to refer to objects.

It dates at least from the middle of the 19th century, when it was used in the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils from 1848, The Lady of the Camellias (The Lady of the Camellias).

See all the colors (literally ‘see all colors’):

It means going through all kinds of hardships or hardships.

The expression is said to have been coined in the 19th century and based on the image of the color wheel, also known as the color wheel, which was designed by Sir Isaac Newton to map the relationships between colors on the spectrum.

The colors on the wheel represent the variety of emotions that one can have or experiences that one can endure.

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