Friday, October 2, 2009

12 Days in Paris: Musee les Arts Decoratifs

We discovered this museum years ago when it had a spectacular Lalique jewelry exhibit, and just had to come back. We were not disappointed. The Musee des Arts Decoratifs is actually three museums under one roof located in one of the wings of the Louvre (107, rue de Rivoli, 1e). It covers decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the present day and its tag line is very appropriate -- the beautiful in the useful! On this visit we checked out two of the three museums: Musee de la Mode (Fashion and Textiles) and Musee des Arts Decoratifs (general decorative arts). We did not make it up to the Musee de la Publicite (advertising and posters), partially because the main exhibit was posters by Toulouse-Lautrec, whom we love, but had just seen a large, expansive collection of his work in the states.

In the Musee de la Mode there was a fantastic exhibit of the dresses and accessories of Madeleine Vionnet. The exhibit featured gowns and coats from the 20s and 30s. Vionnet started her illustrious career in 1912, but was forced to close a couple of years later with the outbreak of WWI. She re-opened in 1918, introducing her "modern style" and her career took off. Vionnet used, almost exclusively, crepe fabric, cut on the bias to fall freely and display a real feminine softness. While her designs maintained that distinctive free-flowing look, there were subtle changes over time to match the changes in women's fashion and bodies. The 1920s dresses are undeniably Art Deco, even flapper-style in design, while the 1930s dresses are more voluminous and emphasize the bodies contours.The exhibit features a large selection of her dresses with accompanying photos. There is an extensive online catalog of this exhibit, with photos of all the dresses and additional explanatory content. It is well worth taking the time to peruse the catalog or the Diaporama. Below I have shown a couple of dresses from the collection.Madeleine Vionnet had an interesting logo for her business. She also was always concerned about people copying her designs, so she established patents and copyrights for them wherever possible and added her fingerprint to every label to authenticate her work!Also in the Musee de la Mode is a brilliant collection of jewelry displayed in two salons under specialized lighting. All the greats of 20th century jewelry design are represented: Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany, Cartier, Lalique and Boucheron, as well as the eclectic like Alexander Calder, ethnic designs from Asian artists and contemporary masterpieces as well.

The Musee des Arts Decoratifs had several exhibits going on, plus the extensive permanent collection. Musique en Jouets (Musical Toys) was one that captured our imagination. There was a whole collection of Pierre Bastien mechanical action musical machines. These reminded me so much of the comical Rube Goldberg machines of the mid-1900s. There are antique baby rattles, fancy tambourines and a variety of commercial musical toys.I was mesmerized by an exhibit entitled: Nabaz'mob: Opera pour 100 lapines communicants (Opera for 100 smart rabbits). They blink their lights and move their ears during a 23 minute electronic musical number. Eerie and captivating at the same time.We saw so much more, but the last one that caught our special attention was entitled Aussi rouge que possible (As red as possible), a display of everything red! Using pieces from the museum's permanent collections, the exhibition explores numerous domains in which red is an inescapable element and the different symbolism of this color in all societies down the ages.Tips:
1. The museum has a very good restaurant, Le Saut du Loup, that has an excellent outdoor section with table in the Jardin du Carrousel in front of the Louvre. The Musee des Arts Decoratifs is actually located at the end of the Richelieu wing of the Louvre.
2. Check out the museum website, as it is one of the more complete such sites we have found.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Recent Posts