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paris trip report part 2
2005-02-03 - 1:43 p.m.
All photos © 2005 by Elaine Radford
This is part 2 of my trip report from Paris. To start with part 1,
click right here.
Jan. 27, 2005
Today I bought a real French croissant and coffee breakfast from a real
French, non-English-speaking person -- OK, the phrase book and a bilingual customer
helped a little bit. Then I headed for the Musee d'Orsay just in time for
the opening. Don't ask me what it is, but there's something faintly ridiculous about
photographing paintings. But I'll try to hit some high points anyway.
All over the museum, painters were set up to copy various famous paintings. I think
they pay for the privilege, and or they're taking a class or something, because they
all had badges.
The Impressionists have been severely injured by the over-commercialization and
over-reproduction of their work. In fact, I'm pretty sure we had a bad print of
a Renoir in our house growing up. I know D. did. And everybody's house in the
60s had those gag-a-maggot Van Gogh sunflowers. However, and you just have to
trust me on this, most of the paintings are better in person. Well, not the
Renoirs. He needs to be buried in a deep cave somewhere and forgotten for a few
decades before he can be enjoyed again.
But the Pisarros and the Sisleys provided endless hours of amusement. Up close, you
can see the brushstrokes. Step back and back and back, and suddenly it's
very nearly photo-realism.
Monet is an impressionist no matter how far back you stand.
Van Gogh provided a welcome burst of color that wasn't so precious, especially
considering all those pink Renoirs. But then you happen on a painting like
this, and you have to ask yourself if Van Gogh was a put-on after all:
I remember that in my art history class in college we pondered the question of what possible purpose this botched
perspective was supposed to express, but I don't remember what the conclusion was --
whether we decided that Van Gogh was having an off day or just playing with
The jewel of the museum to my mind was the hall of Odilon Redons, with their
marvelous color, energy, and intelligence. Unfortunately, they are delicate and kept under
low light, so I couldn't sneak any photos. But he seemed to have the freedom
and color sense of Van Gogh, without leaving you with the sneaking suspicion that, hey,
this dude is just messing with me mentally.
Possibly my favorite new-to-me artist was Paul Signac.
There's lots of other stuff in this museum, from a glassed-over model of the
museum and other nearby buildings that you can walk on, to any number of sculptures
and art objects, but maybe I'm posting too many pictures from this one place already.
Oh, and a warning: The carafe of wine that came with the lunch in the cafe was
twice as large as the one in the Louvre. I was walking on clouds for awhile after that.
It was Thursday, the late day at D'Orsay, but I decided to leave around 4 o'clock or so to be
in place for the sunset at the Eiffel Tower.
You would be surprised at how close you can get to the Tower without being able to see it
for all the several story buildings in the way. In fact, when I first left the Musee D'Orsay,
I turned the wrong way and walked a couple of blocks before I got that dark suspicion of being
lost. In the above photo I'm walking toward the tower past a drugstore. They all have
these flashing blue, green, or sometimes both blue and green crosses outside.
When I reached the Tower, the elevator was broken, so I had to take the steps. As I walked up,
four or five workers all wrapped around with harnesses and tools came walking down. That was a little
scary. But I guess they were on the job, because at the end of the night, when it was dark and
snow flurries were starting to come down, they shut down the stairs and had all the tourists
come down on the elevator. Anyway, I spent a long time up there checking out the view
from all directions and taking endless photos of the sunset.
You have just read Part 2 of my Paris trip report. For Part 1,
click right here.
To continue onward to Part 3,
please click right here.
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All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2002-2017 by Elaine Radford