Thursday, May 14, 2009

jour no. 14 - musee d'orsay

Well, I did it. I actually went to a museum here in Paris and WENT IN, instead of gasping in horror at the sight of the line and turning briskly on my heel. Of course, my strategy of buying the ticket a day ahead was unnecessary, as there (for the first time! I swear!) was no line, but having the ticket did force me to get out the door and get over there.

Good thing, too, because it was wonderful. I dimly remembered that the space (a former train station) was dramatic and all that, but still: you gotta see it. Beautiful building, beautiful light, beautiful clock – and of course, the art ain't bad, neither.

The place is packed to the rafters with pre-Impressionism and Impressionism and post-Impressionism – all the big guns are there. I have to say, though, that (for me) it's hard to be moved by those paintings at this point in time. They've been so endlessly reproduced and knocked off and postcardized; I can recognize that that Corot landscape is lovely, as is this Monet vase of flowers over here, but there is no frisson pour moi; it mostly looks like stuff you'd pick up at an art fair at the Hilton, complete with cheesy gold frames.

That being said, a few things just jump right off the wall: Cassatt's "Jeune Fille au Jardin," Manet's "Berthe Morisot," pretty much everything by Cezanne (except those vases of flowers – ugh, I say), Bonnard's "Femme au Chat," van Gogh's "Eglise," Seurat's little paintings, an early (and surprising)

Mondrian landscape, and an amazing Japanese-influenced landscape by Whistler (hanging right next to his mom).

A few new names on my list: Carriere, with his very gray and murky portraits; Ferdinand Hodler; William Henderson's landscapes; absolutely everything by Odilon Redon, but especially the pastel portrait of his son; and, maybe most of all, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, who I never ever heard of. (More on him in the next post.)

I walked my poor little feet to death, but it was well worth it.

{artists, from top: Manet, Cassatt, Mondrian, Carriere, Hodler}

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