Friday, July 8, 2011

Paris: The Last

We spent our last week in Paris visiting some lesser known museums, picnicking and enjoying days without much planned.
France, in my opinion, has an excellent department of culture and gives incentives to the public to view art. They have free admission to all museums on the first Sunday on each month, give generous discounts to students and people under 25 years old, and even have collections of art to view for free. We took advantage.

This is an awesome piece by cubist Alvert Gleizes titled Les Baigneuses that we saw in the modern art museum. The top picture is from there as well and we got to see the impressive and thorough collection for free. Seeing so much classical French and Italian art, it was refreshing to see the bold colors and free thinking ideas of modern art.

Just a short walk down the Seine was the Petit Palais, sister to the Grand Palais where we saw the Monumenta exhibition. Inside the Petit Palais is a fine collection of 17th and 18th century art. This painting was striking because of its skillful execution and interesting subject matter.

It held our attention and our eyes stay glued on it as if we were actually watching the circus. These two parts of the painting are just the main part of the long, panel painting, but sums up the character of the piece. The painting is called La Parade des Humbles by Fernand Pelez.

Taking advantage of free museum time, we also made a last visit to the Louvre. We visited the interesting, but not at the top the list, rooms and were quite pleased to see 18th into 19th century French paintings, and Egyptian artifacts including sarcophaguses, mummies and this giant sphinx. Seeing this side of the Louvre really showed how awesome (and I mean that in the powerful sense) it really is. They had giant statues and columns from Egypt housed there and even reconstructed the base of a pyramid in the bottom floor. Impressive.

The last museum we visited was the MuseĆ© d’Orangerie made famous for housing Monet’s last works. Now, up until this point I had been a fan of Monet. I admired his paintings, thought he influenced the Impressionist movement immensely, and loved looking at his work. But until I saw these long, panel paintings, I had no idea how great of an artist he was.

Never before has a painting captured me how this one did. I gazed at, contemplated and truly felt this painting, probably for a good 10-15 minutes. It’s hard to describe how it made me feel, but it was as if I completely understood what Monet was trying to do and express in this one. Without perspective, I was allowed to swim through this painting, seeing the surface, below the surface and the reflection of what was above the surface. Taking a closer look exposed Monet’s hand, The dry brush strokes, up close, are just colors on top of colors that don’t mean anything but expression until you step back and see the scene. This painting, called Green Reflection, reminded me why I love paint and applying it. I still can’t get over this painting.

I think one reason why his work hit me so hard was because a few days earlier, we took a day trip to see his estate and the garden he painted from. On the hottest and most humid day of our trip, we spent it in the over-crowded, plant-filled garden just outside of Paris.

As miserable as I was with the climate, I did really enjoy walking around his garden and this pond, picturing him waking up to and painting this. With this in mind while looking at his art, you really are allowed to see how he felt. And that is something pretty special.

Here’s Casey in front of the pond. Ain’t she so pretty?
These next ones are a bit all over the place, but I think it gives a good idea of Paris. Think of it as a selected virtual tour.

This is the Stravinsky Fountain in the middle of the Marais, a trendy and young area of Paris popular with the gay community. It is such a cool juxtaposition of modern and antique, with the old medieval chapel behind a very large piece of street on the building perpendicular to it and an area full of modern and pop-art fountains.

I’ve wanted to see this gypsy for two years! I first saw her on a live, music video I saw a few years back. She was sawing away at this broken, out of tune violin while the singer-songwriter played his song. Then, while I was in Italy, a few of my friends went to Paris and randomly took her picture in the same square she was in in the video. After disappointedly not seeing her in that square when we first visited the Marais, luck shined on me and I found her on a street. I wonder if she knows she’s famous.

After a long day, Casey and I treated ourselves to a beer and a pastry in the Tulleries, a larger garden-park adjacent to the Louvre. There was a nice big fountain with chairs all around, so we sat and enjoyed the sun with these guys chasing their boats.

One of our last days was gay pride in Paris. Casey went to the parade and said it was similar, but not as crazy, as what we’re used to in San Francisco. I explored a different part of Paris and was surprised to find celebration everywhere. This stage, with its afros, polyester clothing and head scarves, really reminded me of San Francisco.

Being out in the 19th arrondissement (on the outer ring of Paris) we caught the metro a lot and were subjected to a lot of advertising. This one always made me chuckle. To me, it’s completely ludicrous to use sex appeal to sell watermelons.

Well, we’ve said goodbye to Paris. Having spent a good amount of time there, which felt way longer than the actual time we were there, we were pretty bummed to leave. It is really a great city and even with just a few days there it’s easy to understand why so many fall in love with it. Au revoir Paris!

Our next destination was Strasbourg. We’re actually heading back to the States right now, and hopefully a post on Strasbourg soon will catch us up.

1 comment:

celia said...

I still have a hard time grasping the picture of the circus is actually a painting. Wow, Monet's Green Reflection truly got to you. I am so happy you saw it in person. Also how you had seen the estate and garden he had painted from - nice touch with Casey. What a great adventure you and Casey have had.