Monday, June 13, 2011

Paris - The First

We are in Paris, this wonderfully alive city, and get to stare out to this every evening as we eat dinner. It's just perfect for me since I love these French buildings with their toasted beige brick, slate blue-gray roofs with the slightest slant, and the potted plants marking the windows of those who care to have them.

We've been having a great time in Paris and the last three days has really made me appreciate our decision to hang out here and really spend some time. We've come across a few things that I'm sure we wouldn't have if we had been trying to fit in the major sites and museums. The first thing we went to see was the Monumenta 2011 exhibition at the Grand Palais.

For the last three years, the French Ministry for Culture and Communication have asked a contemporary artist to create an exhibition that fits the title, "Monumenta." This year was Anish Kapoor-Levianthan, a British sculptor born in Bombay, and he exceed what I thought could be monumental. He created this gargantuan installation that viewers could enter and have a unique and sequential sensory experience.

When you first enter through a rotating door, you are almost blind in the sudden darkness and instantly on alert. Your eyes widen as you grasp the scale of what you are in, all the while experiencing faint echos of claps and short bursts of whistling. For the first few minutes before your eyes adjust, the experience is auditory with the grounding of a faint and dark redness all around, only making out the smooth curves of the installation. But soon your eyes are back and you can see three bulbous chambers extending from the chamber you're standing in and the unusual retention of the echos suddenly make sense.

We are in this resonance ball designed to carry sound and at some points, return it to the opposite side of where it was created. Although the crowd was pretty conservative, we enjoyed a few spurts of clapping, whistling and a holler or two. While we were in there, the sun peeked from the clouds and illuminated the glass structure in which the piece was installed, casting the cool lines of steel on our surrounding while showing how opaque the "bubble" was.

After the interior experience, we got to view the exterior. From this view, you can really grasp the size and scale of it. It is massive! While walking around this giant, the things that baffled us while we were inside made sense. We couldn't figure out how the thick vinyl that supported, guessing that there were wood frames on the outside with the vinyl stretched over it. Nope, it's just a giant, inflated bubbled. We also got to enjoy the beautifully art deco interior of the Grand Palais.

I think the Grand Palais was built for the 1900 Worlds Fair, which would have made this type of architecture very fashionable. This staircase also shows how much thought was put into the aesthetic and flow of the design.

Although I'm sure the installation was designed to fit the size of the Grand Palais, having three bulbous spheres jut out into the three wings of the building, I wonder if the chose color of the piece was also to suit the building. If not, it was a very pleasing coincidence. The grayed mint green with the orange-mustard of the building complemented by the bold, eggplant of the installation created a a very balanced, secondary color scheme. Down to this detail, it was one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time and a great way to start things off.

The next day, we caught the metro to the 6th arrondissement to explore the area. The idea was to stop at one park, mosey our way over to another and then on to a very well know area. But, our plans were delayed a bit when we walked up from the metro and found ourselves in the middle of a giant antiques fair.

The ironic thing is that while we were on the metro riding to the 6th, we were hoping we'd find an antique store that day. Lucky us as we fell into streets filled with heirlooms from past generations. A lot of it was the same - old china, antique figurines, old and new jewelry, and furniture. But there were a few that were pretty unique. This is a picture of a table filled with old woodblocks. I can only imagine what kinds of print these went into. I really wanted one.

Here was a stand with natural antiques. He had stuffed birds, preserved insects, bones, maps and tools. It was all quite interesting and very appealing to my geek side.

After the antique fair, we finished our plans and made our way to the Luxembourg Gardens. On the way though, we stopped on 6, rue va de GrĂ¡ce and saw Alphonse Mucha's studio.

As a refresher, Alphone Mucha is probably my all time favorite artist. He, in my opinion, created the Art Nouveau movement and brought attention the beauty in aesthetic, while also contributing some great, meaningful and thoughtful art to the world as well. We only got to see the outside of his studio, but it was great walking down his street, imagining him walking around, thinking about his next piece.

On our way back to the metro stop from the gardens, we stopped in the drizzling rain at this fountain.
It, by itself, is one heck of a cool looking fountain. But I was more captured by mix of this street cleaner in front of it. With the colors, subject matter and texture of the fountain, I think this fellow was randomly an extension of it.

Yesterday, we had a nice mellow day in the hood. We'll, most of it was mellow. We went to the bi-weekly open air market near our apartment and were overwhelmed by the energy. With the vendors shouting out what they have to sell, and the quick footed crowd, it took a bit of adjustment to jump into the moving stream and get some food. But this wasn't our first market and we made it out with our weeks worth. We ended our day with live jazz along the canal down the street from us. This is where the mellow took over, and we enjoyed listening to the various stages while enjoying the atmosphere.


lex said...

I'm glad you got to see Mucha's studio, even if it was just the outside of it! I totally love the staircase in the Grand Palais. Take care!

celia said...

Paris has not let you down - what wonderful sites - the Monumenta, is amazing - the staircase - Mucha's place, even if only from the outside. C'est la vie !