Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Musée d'Orsay - all new!

From the viewing platform
We (Paul, Emma and I) went to the Musée d'Orsay last Tuesday: It's a completelly new museum, all re-decorated and the art is all re-distributed throughout; so if even if you've been there before, it's most definitely worth revisiting. Des Racines et des Ailes did a special report on the refurbishment a couple of weeks ago. (Click the link to the show to check if the video is still available.) It was an excellent show that incited us to schedule our visit for after my return from England.
One thing that bugged me is that this museum still has a "no photo" rule, although photos from the viewing platform or in the non-exhibit areas are tolerated. I saw plenty of people taking pictures, trying to hide or hold their smartphones awkwardly to do it. Why not just allow it and request people not use flash. Plenty of the artwork has been photographed and if you open the links to articles here, you'll see them.
In no particular order, if you head right from the sculpture gallery on the ground floor (that hasn't changed, but they've cleaned the white sculptures that had been dirtied from so many hands caressing them over the years) you see many of the pre-Impressionist influencers and post-Impressionist influenced. Actually it's quite mixed. I started making associations. For example in Gustave Moreau's symbolism I saw the influence on Ensor (wrote about that in Jan. 2010) who was about a generation later. Moreau has his own museum in Paris, In Puvis de Chavanne I saw an influence on A. Wyeth. (Maybe I'm thinking of Wyeth because there's an exhibit I'd like to go to at the Mona Bismarck foundation.) Puvis de Chavanne also did some patriotic, sepia-colored art during the Franco-Prussian war -- a woman holding a rifle, looking out over the city. Very sad. And I loved the vibrant colors in Odilon Redon's pastels.
5th floor, in front of the clock
There is a collection of Vuillard (Jardins Publics), Bonnard (En Barque), and Toulouse-Lautrec (cabaret scenes) and they all go together perfectly. One of the new things at the museum is the wall paint. They've gotten rid of the white walls. The walls are deep green, red, blue-gray, slate colors. They pick up the colors from the paintings and the paintings stand out all the better for it. The lighting is perfect.
There's a tryptique (three paintings framed together): a Sisley, a Pissaro, and a Monet.You could think it was all done by a single artist. On the ground floor, the artists are all mixed together, in collections. I loved the Mollard collection of Degas, Renoir, Pissaro, and Sisley, and more, all jumbled together.
Then you go through the Barbizon school of painting: Daubigny, Rosa Bonheur's cows, Millet's peasants, and Corot's landscapes. You still haven't hit the Impressionist exhibit! That's now up on the 5th floor. I've seen so much Monet in the past year, at Rouen and then at the Grand Palais, and Renoir at the Grand Palais, so I was able to skip around a bit. Manet's Olympe is on a deep red wall -- fantastic effect.
I didn't make it to the 2nd floor for Van Gogh and other post-Impressionists, Art Nouveau and so on. That'll be for another time. I did take a look at the temporary exhibit "Beauty, Morals and Voluptuousness in the England of Oscar Wilde". Lots of Whistler! And beautiful furniture (William Morris and Godwin), ironwork (Thomas Jeckyll) and silverware (Christopher Dresser)!
As you can see, I loved it!

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