Paris – The Musée de l’Orangerie Basement!

Posted on August 17, 2013. Filed under: Art, France, Paris, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Paris - Musée de l'Orangerie basement 1The spectacular Musée de l’Orangerie has the enormous Monet waterlily series of paintings and it blows you away to walk amid his ponds.  But that’s upstairs!  Don’t miss the light-flooded basement, the Walter-Guillaume galleries, reopened after extensive construction in 2006.

There are some jewels here:  Renoir and Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse.  22 Soutines!  And a particular favorite of mine:  Kees van Dongen who I love because of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Woman with Cat.

Paris - Musée de l'Orangerie basement 5What a great place to learn about art by reproducing it.  I remember my last year of high school at the Milwaukee Art Museum where there is a painting I hated (Fragonard’s The Shepherdess.)  My teacher had me spend several hours with it, drawing it, and I fell in love with it.  There is much to be learned from copying another’s work.

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This place was quite a feast for the eyes.  Next time you get to Paris don’t miss it!

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Monet at the Musée de l’Orangerie

Posted on March 21, 2013. Filed under: Art, France, Paris, Travel | Tags: , , , |

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I had been to Paris twice before and managed to miss this fantastic museum both times, so on this trip it was what we did our first day!  It surpassed everything I had imagined.  These rooms were specially designed to host Monet’s masterpieces, the Nympheas or Waterlillies, in 1922.  Monet worked the last 30 years of his life on these works and he could not give them up to the museum so he died with them in his possession and they were installed posthumorously.  There are two big oval rooms, one depicting the pond at dawn and the other at dusk, all lit with natural light and almost nothing else except a minimal bench in the middle from which you can rest and take it all in.  The paintings, 6.5 feet tall, and if lined up side by side, 298.5 feet in width, encircle you.  And yet, you can get right up to them and look at each brush stroke.  It’s almost like traveling through time, the brushstrokes look so fresh, like he just put them down.   From the middle you are in the pond, up close it’s an abstract colorful free-for-all!  How did he do that?!

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I will definitely return to this little gem of a museum the next time I’m in Paris.  There is now a wonderful additional museum space in a basement opened in 2006 to hold the Walter-Guillaume collection of Impressionist paintings.  The history of this building and its holdings is pretty interesting.  See http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/16/arts/design/16oran.html?_r=0 for a quick description.

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