June 27, 2006

Bonjour from Paris!

After a lovely week in the South of France, we took the TGV from Aix-en-Provence to Paris to begin the last leg of this trip. It's almost a little too calm to be here without riots or strikes, but the weather has been pretty dramatic. Either it is gorgeous sunshine or pouring rain and cold! Nevertheless, we persevere and are always happy to be here! The summer solstice means dawn comes at 4 AM and the evenings extend until after 10 o'clock. This photo was taken on Monday afternoon from our little nest on the 7th floor. It is a spectacular view with, from left to right, the steeple of Ste Chapelle, the dome of the Prefecture of Police, behind that the shrouded Tour St Jacques, and finally Centre Pompidou on the right.

As far as museum shows, so far we have visited three. The first was at the Musée de Luxembourg, a small museum that puts on some really good shows. "L'Envolée Lyrique: Paris 1945-1956" was not the best effort ever, but very interesting and a good overview of Abstract art in the years immediately following WWII. They featured some very good examples of works by artists like Lanskoy, Viera da Silva, Poliakoff and Riopelle, none of whom are household names in the U.S. but all are very respectable artists in their genre.

The news in May of the re-opening of L'Orangerie was a red flag for me. I know it's a cliché, but I LOVE the Monet "Waterlilies" and couldn't wait to see them in their newly refurbished surroundings. They did not disappoint. The upper floor consists of 2 large oval rooms, each with 4 huge panels of waterlily paintings surrounding the viewer in heavenly color. Downstairs was another fabulous permanent exhibition - the collection of the legendary art dealer Paul Guillaume (1891-1934) who bequeathed his extensive holdings of Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, Soutine, Modigliani and other notables, to the City of Paris for public enjoyment. It was like a "Greatest Hits" of Classical Modern art.

Finally, we took in "Italia Nova: An Adventure in Italian Art 1900-1950", now in its final days at the Grand Palais. What a great surprise! The exhibition explored 2 main movements "Futurism" and "Metafiscia" both of which were born in Italy and whose influence can be seen in the French movements of Dada and Surrealism. The Manifesto of Futurism, as interpreted by such artists as Depero, Severini, Balla and Boccioni, was very simply an opposition to the middle class focus on the past, instead it promoted a focus on modern life - it's speed, industrialization, geometric and mechanical splendors. The counterpoint was Metafiscia or Metaphysics which involved a return to Classicism and concrete forms but in which recognizable objects no longer had a logical relationship to their environment. Theoretically, this juxtaposition became a place in which the hidden life of things was revealed. Here we find works by Morandi, Carra, and above all Georgio deChirico.

When night falls it is always dramatic, but I thought this view of Notre Dame after a rain storm, again taken from our window, was an appropriate way to wish you adieu until the next post!

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