Incredible

I was recently at the Louis Vuitton Foundation where a new exhibit has been set up showing 130 works of art once collected by Russian Visionary Sergei Shchukin and placed in his palace where they covered the walls. He was a Russian textile merchant and his paintings were considered one of the finest collections of modern art in the world.  He amassed over 250 works of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in his lifetime. The exhibit is mostly impressionists on display along with a few others such as Picasso (34 of his works) and Cezanne who did not consider himself one, so you can see Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and more. He was an acquaintance of Matisse who introduced him to Picasso about whom Shchukin said he did not understand and is quoted as saying, “I’m sure he is right, and not me”. Matisse was also brought to Shchukin’s palace in Moscow to help decorate it in 1911. During Stalin’s reign and the Russian Revolution his art work was seized and placed in three museums (he and his family ended up in France) and this is the first time the paintings have left Russia in 100 years. As you might imagine, there was a huge insurance premium and although the Orsay Museum would probably make more sense for these paintings, the Louis Vuitton Foundation was the only museum who could afford to pay it. They hired their own guards too.

 

img_2212 Here’s a look at the museum as you approach, designed by Gehry, an American. It usually is plain glass but the coloured panels are a temporary art exhibit by Daniel Buren who also did the black and white striped columns at Palais Royal. It looks like Noah’s Ark to me in shape. A quote on Gehry’s building: “Your first instinct, when you see an extraordinary new building that looks like nothing you have ever seen before, is to try to understand it by connecting it to what you know. And so Frank Gehry’s new Fondation Louis Vuitton, in Paris, looks like sails, and it looks like a boat, and it looks like a whale, and it looks like a crystal palace that is in the middle of an explosion.” Some said it looked like a space ship. When you bring an engineer or an architect to see it, they are amazed at the construction. It is incredible to go to the top level and see how the glass panels are held up or to the side.

img_2239 The side of the building. The building is on the edge of the Bois du Boulogne, an enormous forest near the Champs Elysees. It is next to the children’s garden. This location kept the powers that be in Paris from interfering too much in the design. the colored squares and rectangles by Buren can be seen close up.  Buren is known best for using regular, contrasting colored stripes as you can see here. He used twelve hues of colors.

img_2231 A light installation from the artist Olafur Eliasson lines the lower level “grotto”.

img_2221 I loved the set up of the museum with these arches in one room and the dark gray paint. The rooms were very roomy, not small and cramped like some museums and even with large numbers of people roaming around, it was easy to look at the paintings.

img_2222 I can’t remember the artist for this painting. I just liked the view of la Madeleine and a look at the horse drawn cabs in the street. Also notice that black smoke billowing in the distance. I’ve read that in this age of coal burning energy sources, women often wore coats over their dressing to protect them from coal dust in the air. I imagine it wasn’t good for your lungs either.

img_2225 Taken from the side and not cropped but look at the lovely light. By Monet.

img_2226 I believe this is by Monet too and everyone is dressed-no naked ladies.

If you come to Paris and want to see this exhibit, be sure and order your tickets online and print them out as the line to buy them in person  can be up to an hour long.

 

Don’t Speak

I went to a very nice exhibit at the Orangerie here in Paris the other day to see an exhibit of American painters from the 1930’s. I’m not sure how this exhibit came about, as I’m not sure the French would be that enamoured with American artists, but I have to say I really enjoyed most of the paintings. My friend and I had just started looking and I leaned down to read the explanation next to a painting and I turned to her and said, “Look, this was painted in Iowa!” when one of the museum guards came up to me and said, “Please don’t speak in here”. Can you believe that? I was speechless at first. I wasn’t talking loudly although most French think that Americans are loud, so I said, “I can’t take photos, and I can’t speak. Can I LOOK?” I was really mad. I think I’m going to call the museum and complain. I’m wondering if it had to do with my being an American. Who knows? In any case, after I cooled down, I enjoyed the exhibit.

img_2059 This is a photo of the catalog for sale in the book shop. This is the first painting you see. This painting is by Grant Wood. There were several by him as well as Georgia O’Keefe and Hopper. It turns out they were brother and sister.

img_2057 Since I couldn’t take photos inside, I took this from the entrance. Such a strange looking couple. I guess they were caught in the Great Depression which many of the paintings depict.

img_2054 They have a permanent exhibit there too. This is by Degas.

img_2061 The Orangerie was once used to keep orange trees placed around the Tuileries Garden inside during winter so there is a lot of glass and light.

img_2063 There are two oval rooms there built just for these giant paintings by Monet of his water lily filled pond.

img_2069 Another wall. He painted many paintings in different light trying to capture every change.

Monet’s Home

I love Monet’s home there in Giverny. It’s not huge or sophisticated, but warm and inviting.

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The house as seen from the garden.

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This room was new to me from my last visit. The walls were covered with replicas of his paintings and I believe he painted in here.

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Here was the window giving great light for painting.

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A photo of Monet himself.

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A view from upstairs overlooking the garden.

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The fireplace in the dining room. Lots of blue and yellow in the house and many Japanese prints and etchings.

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The kitchen.

Giverny

Giverny is the village where Monet lived with his family and did his famous water lily paintings. I went out there via train and then bus with some ladies and we almost roasted to death as the temperatures hit 90 and above and it was very humid. I could have been in Houston. The next day it went down to the 70’s, our bad luck, but it was still beautiful.

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We went into the nearby Impressionist’s Museum first. No photos allowed which I found out after I took this one. It was nice to visit and they were having an exhibit of a lot of Degas took.

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The pond where he did so many of his paintings. He loved light and how it changed.

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The pond with a some flowers in the foreground.

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Loved the shape and color of these flowers.

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A water lily without its pad with cloud reflections.

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A view with a willow tree.

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The famous curved Japanese bridge. You can’t get a photo without people in it. Years ago I came here with friends. We arrived just as it opened and I rushed them to the bridge for photos before the tour buses and groups of people arrived. We arrived this time in the afternoon and it was packed, like the Louvre.

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The more formal gardens which were lush with flowers and bushes.