I posted about our first day on our own in Paris on Saturday, The Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Our second day was devoted to art. We started at the Musée d’Orsay where I loved seeing original Toulouse-Lautrec pieces for the first time. Rick enjoyed the special photography exhibit called Confused Genre that explored whether photographic nudes can be called art or are they always something else. It was fun to see one of Alfred Stieglitz’s nude portraits of Georgia O’Keefe since I recently read about them (Book Review: How Georgia Became O’Keeffe by Karen Karbo). We both liked the Art Nouveau furniture and decor collections.
Lunch at the cafe in the Musée d’Orsay was only so-so, but it was fun to look out one of the big clocks.
We crossed the Seine on the pedestrian bridge, Passarelle Solferino, and had one of those lovely France moments when the sky and the light make photography look easy. Here’s a picture of the Grand Palais.
And, here, the tour boats lined up in a perfect pose.
We visited the Musée de l’Orangerie and were thrilled to see Monet’s Water Lilies in the way he wished them displayed. The St. Louis Art Museum owns one of a triptych of water lilies and every 20 or 30 years they manage to pull together with the other two for a special exhibit of how they were meant to be seen, but then they all go back to their own institutions.
After a break in the room, we walked over to the Centre Pompidou, Paris’ museum of modern art. On the way we stopped to look at the construction at Les Halles. We saw these modular units a couple of places. I think they are temporary housing for construction workers.
We also passed the Fontaine des Innocents which, according to my guidebook, is the only remaining Renaissance fountain in Paris.
We were less impressed with the architecture of the Centre Pompidou than we expected. I’m sure the inside-out architecture was daring when it was built but it doesn’t seem that exciting now. Inside, it felt like looking at art in your local Home Depot. We enjoyed much more the Bloch Building addition, designed by Stephen Holl, of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, designed by Moshe Safdie (here are my photos: Crystal Bridges).
That didn’t keep me from being duly impressed by my first sighting outside of a book of a Matisse cut-out, much larger than I imagined, and of seeing Picasso’s Le Guitariste (The Guitarist), in all it’s glorious cubist shapes and warm brown colors.
We went up to the top of the Centre Pompidou and considered eating supper there, but Rick was suffering from allergies so an outdoor eatery wasn’t appealing. This view of the Eiffel Tower was worth the effort, however.
I had a hard time choosing photos, so there are more on my Flickr page: Joy’s Photostream.
On the last day of the Paris in July event, I made an annotated list of links of all my France posts: Paris in July — wrap-up + Paris in August. Check to see if you missed any!
If you’re reading books to learn about France, or any other topic, sign up for the Back to School Reading Challenge.