Saturday, August 27, 2016

Friday In Paris

The Musée Cluny was recommended by a friend, but the idea of rooms and rooms of stuff from the middle ages just wasn't that appealing.  But J wanted to go and it opens an hour earlier than most other museums.

First we stopped for some breakfast in Luxembourg Park.   At 9:30 am the temperature was still in the 70s F, so it was a good time to be in the park.  It later got into the high 90s F.

Then walked the short way from there to the Cluny.

Well, let me say, a museum of the middle ages, housed in a building built in the middle ages turned out to be much better than I expected.

Here we are walking down into the lowest level which was built in Roman times and was a bath.

[Most of these pictures enlarge and focus if you click on them.]

This week I'm reminded anew, that just because people lived 500 or 1000 years ago, doesn't mean they weren't just as involved and aware of their world as we are of ours.  And even more obviously they were talented in many ways.

We then walked over to the Notre Dame, but it had a line to get in so we passed it up.  One of the benefits of the museum passes is supposed to be skipping the lines.  But nothing we went to had a very big line (Notre Dame is free;  the Eiffel Tower did have a line, but it isn't covered by the Museum pass).  I posted yesterday about the Lebanese food place we stopped at.

We made it to the Pompidou Center.  This has 'modern' and 'contemporary' floors.  The modern goes back to the beginning of the 20th Century.  The contemporary seems to be the last 20 or 30 years or so.

My mind is filled with so many thoughts from the last two days that this post is just a glimpse while I try to make sense of everything.  From the Pompidou, first a view.

You can see Sacre Couer on the top of the hill on the right.  The wide angle lens makes it possible to get a lot more into the picture, but it makes things look further away than they actually are.  (I went to look for the view I took from Sacre Couer, but it didn't get posted.)

And from the 'modern' collection, here's part of a Matisse from 1910 - young girl with a black cat.   There were some great works there, but I was familiar with a lot of the painters (my year as a student in Germany in the mid 60s gave me a great art education), and I wanted to see the new stuff.  Here's a little from the contemporary floor.

I wasn't impressed with the two short films that looped in the theater, but it was a great place to catch a short nap.  Dark, relatively quiet, and big, soft sofa like seats.  A few winks was exactly what we needed to carry on.  The description talked about the symbolism of the films, but I still was unimpressed.

This is a close up from a larger canvas by Cheikh Ndaiye  - the one in the middle below.

The description says they are from 2011 and that the artist is interested in urban transformations.
"These former cinemas, built shortly after the countries of Africa gained their independence, consist of a hybrid architecture influenced by the international modernism that arose from colonization.  The re-appropriation of these buildings is observed by the artist with a degree [of] 'euphoric' objectivity [oblique angles, Technicolor skies] strangely reminiscent of freeze frames."

This picture particularly caught my fancy - by Edgar Arceneaux.  Detroit Monolith:  It's Full Of Holes, 2011.

This is a closeup of a very large drawing by Iris Levasseur, Amnesia FB, 2013.  From the description:
"Here, it is about a medieval character dressed in a current outfit:  a recumbent statue in jeans and sneakers."
 Maybe he's one of the people in the stained glass from the Cluny museum transformed so he can fit into the Pompidou's more modern and contemporary collection.  Here's the first English article I could find on Levasseur.  And here she talks in a short video (in French).

Oh, there so much more, but not now.  Off a few blocks more to the Museum of Art and History of Judaism. 

The building was once owned by a wealthy French Jew.  This is the courtyard you cross after going through security.  All the museums we've been to have someone look into your bag.  Some wand you or have you go through a detector of some sort.  This museum had the tightest security screen.  You went into a little glass booth.  There were two soldiers with machine guns in the corner to the right (not on the picture.)  Presumably there are others unseen.  The courtyard would make it harder to break in I assume.  An interesting note is that the wall on the left is just a facade to give more symmetry.

I was struck by this sculpture by Chana Orloff called Le peintre juif.  It's from 1920.  Just look at the great angles and how everything flows just right.

These were all from yesterday.  Today was another busy day and my mind is racing about how to get it into a post.  Maybe it will be several posts.  But don't hold your breath.  We head out to the airport tomorrow and head back to Anchorage with a stop to change planes in Reykjavik.

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