The art museums have launched their spring and summer expositions.  My list is long and trips are being crossed off quickly.

Jacquemart Andre is a private museum in a fabulous mansion.  The house is wonderful to behold and imagine living such a life.  There is “art” throughout the house – the couple had, among other pieces, a Rembrandt.  But the museum also has a small space dedicated to special shows.  Unique offerings.  Often shows of special individual collections.  I saw the impressionists owned by a Danish banker which now reside in a museum in Denmark.  I love these types of shows because I see art that I would never have seen otherwise.  Just like the pieces lent from the private collections.  I’ve commented before: when I see the piece is lent from a private collection, I wonder where that piece was displayed.  In the living room?  The hallway?  The kitchen?  Or maybe even a separate room just dedicated to that work of art.  I will never know but it’s fun to speculate.  So the latest show at Jacquemart Andre was of a Danish artist who was compared to Vermeer.  OK.  I could see a resemblance.  But nothing more.  Still it was interesting.  And always fun to visit that mansion.

The Luxembourg museum is another small museum.  They have great expos.  This time: The Nabis.  The Nabis is a collection of artists working in a particular period.  They named themselves the Prophets.  The artists include Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, and (notice the Oxford comma???)  Maurice Denis.  All my favs.  Pretty amazing to realize that many of the paintings I recognize.  In my four years in Paris, my art knowledge, which was not inconsiderable to start, has grown by leaps and bounds.

The Ateliers des Lumieres is cutting edge of art.  Digital reworking of great masters.  I saw the show last year of their Klimt.  You sit in a large open space, on the floor, or, if you are lucky, on one of the few benches against a post.  The show is digitally produced and projected everywhere.  Every wall.  The floor.  You are surrounded.  The paintings are deconstructed and reconstructed.  Flow across the walls.  Separate.  Morph.  Unimaginable.  Two years ago they had a show of Van Gogh.  It was on the outskirts of Paris.  I didn’t bother.  After seeing Klimt I kicked myself.  They moved to a new space for Klimt.  And this year they reworked Van Gogh to fit this new space.  I went the first week.

And was disappointed.  I love Van Gogh.  But the Klimt show was superior.  In fact, a Japanese “short” they showed before the Van Gogh was better.  Now, it was still spectacular, but the bar was raised so high by the Klimt.

Normally, I detest the Pompidou.  It’s modern art.  I always thought I was a modern kinda gal.  But my taste does not run with the curators of the Pompidou.  However, they did have a Hockey expo last year that got me in their doors.  And this year I went to see the Vasarely.   I surprised myself by deciding to go to that.  Pop Art.  Op Art.  I was amazed.  Reminded me of much of my teenage years.

Tomorrow I am off to the Louis Vuitton Fondation for an exhibit of impressionists from a private collector.  I think I actually saw this same expo in London last December.  That didn’t dawn on me until after my friend bought the tickets.  But this is fine.  I enjoy impressionists.  And many of these paintings are rarely on display.  Seeing them twice is fine.

I’m off to The Netherlands and Amsterdam next week.  The trip to visit a close friend and her family will include a walking tour of Rotterdam modern buildings and a Van Gogh expo.  That’s all in the daytime.  The evening will be a Todd Rundgren concert.  More about that in a future blog.

Paris in December

Wow.  So many people out this Christmas season.  The tourists have certainly picked up. I met several Americans while in various lines.  Here in Paris from our Embassy in Niger to meet Sacramento parents, from Canada to California, New York.  They are all here.

But I had my quiet time at the Musee d’Orsay.  As a member of the museum and holder of the Carte Blanche, I can go in at 9.  The public enters at 9:30.  And what an experience that is.  To walk in and behold, it is empty.   Oh, occasionally I see a docent/guard, but usually not.  In fact, I scared two of them once who walked in to find me alone in a room of china.  I guess that was not a popular destination for the early hours visitors.  I waved my carte blanche and they smiled.

Immediately I went to the Van Gogh room to see all my old favorites.  Starry Night was there in its usual place.  Sometimes it goes traveling.  Earlier this year it moved across to the special exhibit area for an interesting Under the Star expo theme.  Other times it goes far away.  Once to Russia this year.  I recall years ago I went to London and the National Portrait Gallery to see Richard the Third.  He was GONE!  I found out he was on tour to Washington DC.  I learned to always call ahead if I plan a trip for a certain painting…

There were some Van Gogh that seemed new to me.  But the d’Orsay owns so many paintings it can do that – just walk through the attic and pick this one or that one.  Wouldn’t that be a spectacular tour?  Les Greniers d’Orsay.

Notre Dame has had long lines again.  But I went to an evening of Gregorian Chants there and it was wonderful. First, though the line was long to get in, in fact the church was not totally full.  It can accommodate so many people.  And unlike the concert at St Germain des Pres, this concert was awesome.  The acoustics amazing.  There were maybe 9 singers total and several musicians playing instruments from the time period including a bagpipe.  At one point four of the singers walked up the center aisle.  Only one man was singing and his voice filled the entire cathedral.  Goose bumps.

Speaking of lines… that will be a culture shock for me next week.  (OMG NEXT WEEK!)  The British are excellent at queuing.  The Americans too.  We stand in line pretty politely.  The French – not so much.  And I must admit that on the Metro, I am as French as you can get, slithering past people – turn your shoulders to slide between if you must – to get to the coveted seat in a crowded car.

On Sunday December 31 the town was a zoo.  I needed more duct tape (Scotch American) so I headed off to Leroy Merlin again.  It’s open on Sunday!  And apparently it is ALWAYS open on Sunday.  Sounds like any of our home improvement stores.  They realized people need hardware stuff on the weekends.

But all the boulangeries were open and open late!  Usually those that open on Sunday close by 2.  Nope.  7 on NYE.

And other small stores were open.  I discovered Flying Tiger, a Danish store much like the Dutch Hema.  Ah but it’s so sad.  Even if I wanted to, I can’t buy anything – duty or weight holds me back.  It’s a good thing.  I don’t need anything more at this point.

Today, Monday New Year’s Day may be the opposite of yesterday.  I think everyone is staying home recovering.  Besides, it’s raining.  I have more packing to do.  (Just realized I didn’t put my Tile tracker in the suitcase that will be shipped so I have to find a way to open it.  Did I say I repacked it yesterday?  Much better arranged and it looks thinner too which helps meet the required dimensions and saves me additional charges.  I am starting to pack all the things on the shelves…  this is a dreary task.  I try to visualize opening it in Sacramento.  Of course, I then try to ignore the time in between at the airport, changing flights, etc.

Museums and Art

Yesterday I went to the Musee d’Orsay.  I join its association each year and get discounts and free entrance but most importantly, I get to go in at 9:00 am.  The rest of the world has to wait for the normal opening time of 9:30.

2016-11-30-09-07-47Being in that spacious hall by yourself is an incredible feeling.  Like ownership! If you didn’t know, the d’Orsay was one of the major train stations in Paris.  It was closed and eventually remodeled and reopened as a museum.  The focus is the impressionist period- the Louvre retaining the antiquities and Rembrandt, etc.  The Pompidou took all the modern art.  The ‘Orangerie holds the Monet water lilies in specially designed rooms and has other special exhibits and a small permanent collection.   This year American Gothic by Grant Wood made the trip over to L’Orangerie from the Art Institute of Chicago for a special American exposition.

I am also an Ami du Louvre (Friend of the…)  But I can only take the Louvre in small doses. So the membership allows me to drop in from time to time and see just what I want and not feel like I am wasting a ticket.

2016-11-30-09-28-212016-11-30-09-28-38However, it’s the d’Orsay that really draws me.  To go early when it feels like your personal space.  The only other people (usually) are the guards.  Guards?  Well, they are not docents.  Security I guess.  Wearing black and with a museum name badge.  They all smile and welcome me.  In fact, this week when I got to the door where they usually take your ticket or scan your membership card, there was no one there.  I saw them all gathered off to the side in a meeting.  I waved my membership card at the guy standing who seemed to be in charge and he graciously waved me in.  Trusting.  Nice.

The d’Orsay also has my favorite café.  You might recall I call it my office?  I have many conversation exchanges there with friends.  The servers know me.  It almost feels like Little Italy when I worked in Visalia.  They would have the diet coke at my table as soon as they saw me walk in the restaurant.  OK, it’s not quite like that!  But some do remember m

While waiting for my friend, I wandered through the rooms.  Stopped by to see Starry Night by Van Gogh but it was gone.  I asked – it’s in Texas right now.  That made me think once again of the complexity of arranging painting exhibits.  How they get everything in the right place at the right time!  And how they know where things are to begin with.  Of course, that’s not that difficult for paintings in museums.  But I have noticed there are always several paintings from a Collection Privee.  Meaning a private collection.  I suppose the art auctions houses keep lists?  Or the museums have been keeping lists for years.

A couple donated their impressionist collection to the d’Orsay – with the stipulation that their paintings be kept together.  The Bonnards from their collection can’t go off to a room dedicated to Bonnard.  Nope.  I like the idea.  Maybe their kids can stop by and see the art altogether like they were visiting the parents’ house.  The paintings are related and can stay together.

The other thing I noticed on this visit was how my knowledge of art has grown over the past two years.  Now, mind you, I did know my art in general.  And I could always recognize the big names.  But now I can walk into a room and say – ah, Maurice Denis, oh, Berthe Morisot, a Degas, a Cezanne, and a Manet or a Monet.  And of course a Bonnard.  And from across the room even!  When you drop in often enough, instead of one day where you cram your head full of all the paintings in the museum, you unconsciously begin to notice enough to recognize styles.