Category Archives: Art

A morning at Musée d’Orsay

Musée d'Orsay clock

Yesterday was Victory Day in France. Instead of remaining buried in bed on this bank holiday, I met Solli at Musée d’Orsay. This is probably my favorite museum in Paris. As you may know, it is housed in an old train station, and the place succeeds in making us travel in time indeed. The art is old enough to bring up a lost world with now foreign fashion and social conventions. Yet, it was created close enough in time that we can relate to it. It recalls the Maupassant novels we read in high school. Degas’s ballerinas delight me as much as my regular nights at Palais Garnier. The Impressionists’ depictions of nature take me back to the Normandy I grew up in. Paris was already the bustling and fashionable capital it is now.

Musée d'Orsay Salle des fêtes

Walking through the museum, it is at times easy to imagine women in corseted gowns eyeing men in evening dress to the sound of an orchestra playing a feisty waltz. Such is the case in the ballroom (Salle des Fêtes). It used to be part of a hotel housed in the train station.

Musée d'Orsay Salle des fêtes détail

Let us not forget the amazing views of Paris from the top floor. The skyline reminded me of the impression I had of the capital being an old village compared to other cities I’ve lived in, like New York City and Tokyo. Its apparent stillness in time is probably what makes its charm and an object of wonder and reassurance to so many people.

Paris skyline

French flag Eiffel Tower

Louvre Seine

We then headed to the Van Gogh exhibition. With about 40 paintings and other works of art, it focuses on the painter’s mental illness and his relationship to his surroundings. What moved me is how an artist could create such beauty amid the torments he endured in his mind. Though we are quick to disparage people suffering of a disease we fail to understand, we ought to acknowledge what strength some have to still see and pass on the grace they observe in the world.

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 1

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 2

The paintings struck me by their use of color. Mostly though it was the brushstrokes that brought them to life. In one case you could literally imagine yourself standing amid high grass with the wind blowing in your back and shaping the field ahead of you.

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 3

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 4

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 5

This painting was probably my favorite: it reminded me of when I walk home at night and wonder at the city lights reflecting on the Seine.

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 6

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 7

We ended our visit at the restaurant, which used to be the dining room of the hotel. I had often peeked through the windows when it was closed and I was delighted this time to sit down in such a grand setting, my back to a view of the Seine. A morning well spent.

Musée d'Orsay Restaurant

Musée d'Orsay Restaurant room

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Paris as seen by Martin Parr at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie

Martin Parr Eiffel Tower

Are you familiar with the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris? Housed in an old building in Le Marais, the museum regularly hosts interesting photography exhibitions (like Karl Lagerfeld’s a few years ago). After disappointing works by David Lynch, the MEP is currently showcasing Martin Parr’s pictures of Paris. The Brit shows us his view of the City of Lights through kitsch lens and about 60 images: the tourists, the Louvre, the snails and the fashion capital of the world.

Connaissez-vous la Maison Européenne de la Photographie à Paris? Dans un bel immeuble ancien du Marais, le musée accueille régulièrement d’intéressantes expos, comme celle de Karl Lagerfeld il y a quelques années. Cette fois-ci, la MEP a donné carte blanche à Martin Parr qui nous donne sa vision de Paris. Avec son objectif kitsch et une soixantaine d’images, le Britannique n’épargne pas la capitale avec ses touristes, le Louvre, ses escargots et la fashion.

Martin Parr Mona Lisa

Martin Parr Louvre

Martin Parr Victoire de Samothrace

Martin Parr maps

Martin Parr Notre Dame de Paris

Martin Parr horse

Martin Parr Carrousel du Louvre

Martin Parr Eiffel Tower Louvre

Every picture made me smile. Some of them made me laugh out loud. And I like how he makes fun of compulsive photographers (even though I belong to the club): we take pictures of everything mildly interesting we come across without fully using our senses and simply enjoying the moment. But then can you blame us for trying to capture the beauty of Paris?

Toutes ces photos m’ont fait sourire. Certaines m’ont carrément fait rire. Et j’aime comment Martin Parr se moque gentiment des photographes compulsifs (dont je fais partie, je l’avoue). On a tendance à sortir son téléphone à tout bout de champ et à voir le monde à travers un écran au lieu de savourer l’instant. Mais peut-on vraiment nous en vouloir d’essayer de capturer la beauté de Paris ?

Martin Parr couture client

Martin Parr fashion show

Martin Parr couture dress

Martin Parr Chanel

If you plan on visiting the exhibition, admittance is free on Wednesday evenings (5-8pm) instead of 8€ the rest of the time. If you really insist on spending your money, head to the nearby Éclair de Génie for a treat. And if you are a fan of Martin Parr, he will be present at the MEP this Wednesday from 4.30pm for a book signing and Q&A (details here).

Si cette expo vous intéresse, sachez que l’entrée à la MEP est gratuite chaque mercredi de 17h à 20h au lieu de 8€ le reste du temps. Si vous tenez vraiment à dépenser votre argent, passez par L’Eclair de Génie tout près pour une pause gourmande. Et si vous êtes fan de Martin Parr, le photographe sera présent au musée ce mercredi pour une séance de dédicace et une rencontre (détails ici).

Martin Parr snailsBon appétit!

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