One of the delights of Paris is that culture is just normal and there is always something interesting to do that will provide new knowledge and insights. So, fortified with a couple of Pierre Hermé macarons, it’s good to check out what events are on the culture calendar during your visit.
There will be too many to squeeze them all in. This visit I decided to return to the musée d’orsay and musèe rodin as they are two of my favourites. Apparently the musée d’orsay has recently completed a major renovation, which makes it even more appealing. It is my favourite museum in Paris.
While I was in Paris, there was a special Van Gogh exhibit. He is one of my favourite painters so it was exciting to see extra works on display. The exhibit twinned him with Artaud, another tortured artist. The theme was whether society drove Van Gogh to suicide.
The exhibit included the same 40 paintings exhibited in 1947 when Artaud posited that Van Gogh’s exceptional lucidity made lesser minds uncomfortable and they prevented him from uttering certain “intolerable truths” and found his painting disturbing. This public rejection drove him to suicide.
Whether you think Artaud is correct or not, the exhibit featured some great paintings and it provided context on what it was like to be Van Gogh when he was a painter doing stuff that society at the time considered weird – and possibly disturbing – rather than the pop icon on the coffee mugs.
You wonder what these dudes would have thought of the incredible late 20th century monetization of their art…
I love the musée rodin almost as much as the musée d’orsay. It is only a short walk away and has an even more provocative exhibition on right now. It’s another pairing – Auguste Rodin and Robert Mapplethorpe (on until September 21st).
I have heard of Mapplethorpe, but only in the context of photos of naked people that shocked a lot of Americans. Some of the stuff is a little out there but his skill with a camera is unmistakeable. And the exhibition is fascinating as Rodin sculpted a lot of pretty naked people. Somehow in marble it doesn’t seem to shock the same way…
There are a number of different themes but they pair the
Mapplethorpe photos with the Rodin sculptures to prove Mapplethorpe’s thesis that he was a sculptor who used a camera.
If you get lucky, you will have as glorious a day as I did. That is definitely when you want to go to the musée Rodin. It’s worth checking out the museum if you have never been but the really glorious part is the gardens.
“The Kiss” is indoors but “The Thinker”, “The Three Shades”, “The Burghers of Calais” and the incredible “Gates of Hell” are all out in the garden.
Neither of them sound like men whose behaviour you would advise your children to emulate but they were great artists. You don’t have to date them – you can just admire their art 😉
p.s. it’s over now but I was wowed last
September by a world photography exhibit on the Quai de Branly – I think it’s an annual event. Really worth checking out.