Tuesday, September 29, 2009

12 Days in Paris: Musee d’Orsay

We love the Musee d’Orsay. Yes, the Louvre is huge, has exhibits galore and deserves its claim to fame. But it concentrates on classical art, while we really enjoy the art of the late 19th century and early 20th century, which is the d’Orsay’s strength. The paintings by all of the greatest impressionists through early modernists are the backbone of the collection – and define the style and vision of the era.

On this trip, we truly enjoyed the decorative arts exhibits, especially those that featured Art Nouveau and Art Deco furniture and interior design. There are several complete rooms on exhibit, which puts all of the pieces into perspective, seeing how they relate to each other in an actual setting.

This amazing building itself is itself a wonderful architectural design. According to the Musee d’Orsay’s website: The history of the museum, of its building is quite unusual. In the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, the museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. So the building itself could be seen as the first "work of art" in the Musee d'Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914.

The one artist that really got my attention this time was Paul Gauguin. I have always liked his art, but my interest was piqued by Gauguin’s role in a book I just read -- Jill Jonnes excellent documentary Eiffel’s Tower about the 1889 Paris Exposition. Paul Gauguin is one of three artists featured in this book. While I love his paintings, I was particularly fascinated by his sculptures.

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