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Paris Trip – Day 4

Bienvenue! Day 4 was spent walking through Bastille Square, the Jewish section of Paris, and then all over the Pompidou museum of modern art. So without further ado…

By the way, if you didn’t read yesterday’s warning about cleavage creators and muff mounders then do so now. It only gets better from here on out (read: worse if you’re easily offended).

To start the day off, we took a leisurely stroll down to the Bastille area. This area was once the site of the famed French Bastille which fell during the lead up to the third French Revolution (France likes revolutions apparently). Now the icon of the area is the Colonne de Juillet or “July Column”. It is a monument to the Parisians who died during the revolution. Their names are carved in gold into the side of the column. The statue atop the column is called the Génie de la Liberté (Spirit of Freedom) and it is a popular symbol of France. It appeared on the French ten-Franc coins. Mmmm… facts. Colonne de Juillet Colonne de Juillet - Génie de la Liberté
Statue of Louis XIII Victor Hugo’s House Next, our walk took us to Place de Vosges. This is a beautiful square with a park set in the middle. The park is dedicated to Louis XIII and his statue sits in the middle. The square is ringed with nine symmetrical houses on each side. These houses are some of the most expensive real estate in all of Paris. One of them was once owned by Victor Hugo (the one with the French flag). It was really cool walking around the houses as the first floor is commercial with cafes and really nifty art galleries. If you want to see the latest and greatest BRAND NEW art for sale in France, this is where you go.
Afterwards, we toured down Rue des Rosiers and through the Jewish quarter. This is one of the most vibrant areas of Paris and quite distinct from other parts of the city due to the VERY Jewish decorations, people, food, and stores. It was also one of the more crowded areas I’ve seen so far. The Boulangerie!
Musée Pompidou 1
Musée Pompidou 2
Igor Stravinsky Fountain Upon exiting the Jewish quarter, we came upon the marvelously out-of-place Pompidou Museum of Modern Art. I mean, just look at the thing! It’s a giant color coded industrial piece of architectural madness! My immediate thought was, “Oh, I GOTTA see the inside of this thing.” I’m not exaggerating when I say color-coded. Air conditioning ducts are blue, water pipes are green, electrical lines are yellow, ventilation is white, and people areas (walkways) are red. The nearby Igor Stravinsky fountain gives a good indication of what one can expect to find inside. It’s colorful, wacky, and prompts a “WTF?” reaction from many who see it – myself included.

Before we braved the Museum, we went to a nearby popular cafe and had lunch. I had a “plat” order of mini ravioli which was quite tasty (what can I say? I’m a sucker for pasta…). Outside, there were artists and performers of all kinds putting on displays ranging from “Zzzzz…” to “OMG! HOW did he do that?”. For an example of the latter, click the video below. I caught this guy just as he was beginning one of the best glass ball manipulation routines I’ve ever seen. And trust me, I’ve seen quite a few…

After lunch, I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering inside the museum. I snapped pictures of my favorite pieces. Read on for my impressions of each. Oh yeah, and I’ll warn you again… beware of NAKED PEOPLE!

L’ouvreuse - Gerard Gasiorowski L’ouvreuse – Gerard Gasiorowski
This was one of my favorites of everything I saw in the museum. I just can’t stop staring at it. Sure, it looks like a photograph, but it’s black acrylic on canvas! I got my eye right up next to the thing and I was amazed by how well the artist could control the density and pattern of the paint. My best guess is that he composited the thing on a computer, printed it out on a huge lithograph, and then copied the print in paint using a number of specialized techniques not unlike those used by professional spray-painters. But hey, that’s just a guess. Click on the image for a larger view and take a closer look.
Bon Voyage: 10,000 collectables from the airport, 2004 - Lai Guo-Qiang Bon Voyage: 10,000 collectables from the airport, 2004 – Lai Guo-Qiang
This giant plane-thing was suspended from the ceiling. It is made up of many bent and shaped sticks (twigs?) and is stuck with over 10,000 items confiscated from an airport (scissors, razors, corkscrews, etc). It was weird, but interesting.
Le baiser - Wang Du Le baiser – Wang Du
I ended up thinking about this piece for a long tme after I saw it. It shows a man with glasses hugging a girl (woman?) who is in turn kissing a boy (man?) behind her (with tongue!). My first thought was betrayal! The man with glasses is her lover. He’s a nice guy who cares for her deeply, but it’s just not enough. Instead she reaches out to someone else, a bad boy, who can fulfill her desires but isn’t what she really needs. In the end, nobody wins except for the “bad boy” who only wanted a temporary tryst with the girl. But I could be putting too much of my own experience into it. Another interpretation might be the differences in love. In this case, the man in glasses is her father and the boy is her boyfriend. Both love her, but in different ways. The man’s is a fatherly love, and the boy’s is a more sensual love. That’s the great thing about art… to each his/her own.
Survivors (Mao - one of a series) - Yan Pei-Ming Survivors (Mao – one of a series) – Yan Pei-Ming
I like this painting because it was done quickly and violently. Close inspection of the painting reveals huge dried clumps of oil paint in some areas and exposed canvas in others. Yet, the final effect is still one of peaceful repose.
Le Rhinocéros - Xavier Veilhan Le Rhinocéros – Xavier Veilhan
It’s a giant shiny red rhinoceros. What more reason do I need to snap a picture of it?
Rotation - Jesus-Rafael Soto Rotation – Jesus-Rafael Soto
The picture does this work NO justice, but I had to snap one just so I could talk about it. The composition is a black square with a blue square painted inside. Suspended in front of the painting are a series of black and blue rods that swing slowly back and forth on their center axis. The immediate effect is dizzying and almost vertigo-like. After viewing it, you have to rub your eyes, go “whoa”, and stumble away from it. I’m not sure I liked it, but it did have a profound effect.
Rotation - Jesus-Rafael Soto Composition – Félix del Marle
I just thought this one was cool. It’s very much like the kind of thing I’d paint. You know… when I very rarely paint.
Gelb-Rot-Blau - Vassily Kandinksy Gelb-Rot-Blau – Vassily Kandinksy
I like abstract art and Kandinsky’s work is some of the best going. A bunch of random shapes and colors come together to form a composition that is pleasing, yet curious enough to warrant closer inspection. What do you see here?
La danse du pan-pan au “Monico” - Gino Severini La danse du pan-pan au “Monico” – Gino Severini
This artwork depicts an elaborate dance in more ways than one. The colors and the shapes are dancing all over the canvas. As you look closer, you can see the dancers themselves twirling all about in an elaborate fashion. I marvel at the intricacy and detail of this work.
Lion, cheval, dormeuse invisibles - Salvador Dali Lion, cheval, dormeuse invisibles – Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali! There were several in this museum, but I picked this one as my favorite. The English title is “The lion, the horse, and the invisible sleeping woman.” They’re all there… can you see them?
le double secret - René Magritte le double secret – René Magritte
Not much to say about this one. I just thought it was cool, so I took a picture of it.
Femmes au bull-dog - Francis Picabia Femmes au bull-dog – Francis Picabia
Why do I like this one? Naked chicks! Duh. I also like how the colors are very bold, but they still accurately portray the shapes and shadows of her beautiful body (er… and the bulldog too).
Naissance de l’univers - Antoine Pevsner Naissance de l’univers – Antoine Pevsner
Translated, the title means “birth of the universe”. So kudos for using art to portray a sound scientific theory, and… it looks cool.
Alice - Balthus Alice – Balthus
Oh Balthus, Balthus, Balthus… now there’s one DIRTY mind. Just do a google image search and you’ll see what I mean. Here he’s portraying Alice of Wonderland fame. Alice is supposed to be a child, but clearly some parts of her are a woman here. The woman parts distort her body in a perverted (not just sexual) way. Her eyes are glazed and she seems dead to the world. My take is that this isn’t a portrayal of Alice, but more a portrayal of the psyche of Lewis Carroll. Alice isn’t really the child he’d like us all to believe that she is.

By the time I left the museum, I was quite worn out, so we shuffled back home. For dinner we went to a tiny restaurant just around the corner from my parent’s apartment building and had a traditional French dinner. The host greeted my parents by name (and kissed my dad on both cheeks), then personally seated us and poured the wine. There were no menus. Instead we got to order from a hand-written chalkboard. The selections weren’t separate. Instead we picked a course of appetizer/meal/dessert that came as one package. The host was a hoot. It was just him and the cook running the place, but he still tended to us like prize guests. I wish I had brought my camera. It just goes to show, there’s a unique experience around every corner in Paris.

Afterwards, it was time to go home and go to bed (or in my case – work on the blog). Tune in tomorrow when I go to the Louvre! It is one of the largest museums in the world and it contains some of the most valuable artwork in history including the Mona Lisa and the Venus De Milo. I have no idea how I’m going to document that monstrosity in 2,000 words or less, but I’m going to try.

5 Responses to “Paris Trip – Day 4”

  1. on 25 Sep 2007 at 12:21 am Raychel

    I love boobies!!!!

  2. on 25 Sep 2007 at 12:34 am Jennifer

    wow! that video was amazing. send me a plane ticket, i’m coming to paris!

  3. on 25 Sep 2007 at 10:35 am Suzanne

    You like Félix del Marle’s “Composition” because it looks like your pool table with cue sticks laid across it and a giant outsized striped ball balanced on the top. As you say, that’s the great thing about art… :-)

  4. on 25 Sep 2007 at 2:08 pm Jessica

    If I ever find myself in Paris I will absolutely visit the Pompidou Museum of Modern Art. Wondering what Day 5 brings…. more nude art I hope!

  5. on 31 Jul 2008 at 7:14 pm Dick Penner

    My friend Susan and I were in Paris for two weeks in May and loved it. We visited about ten museums, including the Pompidou. Gasiorowski and Veilhan were among the many artists whose work we admired. When we returned home (Knoxville, TN) I discovered that I had not noted the names of the above artists. I searched the extensive website of the Pompidou in vain. Then I think I simply Googled “Pompidou,” and your wonderful travel notes appeared, answering my questions.

    Thanks for sharing your travel experiences and good notations, Mike!

    Best wishes,

    Dick Penner

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