Friday, 4 June 2010

We love the Tuileries

A peaceful pause in the Tuileries

On our second full day of our trip Graham suggested that we visit the Musée de L'institute du Monde Arab. According to the description on our museum pass the institution was planned to raise and spread awareness of Arab culture and it has 500 works which shed light on the history of the Arab world. This sounded like a good start to the day - the sun was out and the institute was a short walk away so off we went with our hosts, Robert and Joan.

We arrived at the building. We were allowed in after a bag check. We walked up to the ticket desk waving our museum passes only to be told that the building was closed for refurbishment. We could see this was happening because there were any number of men feeding cables through ducts. The staff were sorry.

Being closed for refurbishment became a theme of the day. Later on we decided to have lunch at the large airy cafeteria in the Louvre where you can create your own salad but sadly it was closed. For refurbishment. So we made do with a sandwich we bought at a stall on a landing.

Then we thought that since we'd missed seeing Arab art in the morning we would check it out in the Louvre since we were there and we could see a sign more-or-less saying 'Arab art this way'. So we began walking in that direction and got hopelessly lost. We wound up in a gallery describing itself as Graeco Roman and nearly every exhibit was missing (obviously being refurbished).

By now we were fairly sick of the Louvre so headed for the Jardin des Tuileries on our way to Musée National de l'Orangerie. Now our mood changed completely and we had smiles on our faces again. I was fairly staggered by the size of the gardens. I know I have visited them before but they can't have made any impact on me because this felt like my first visit. The French do love their formal gardens. There are wide avenues to stroll along and wonderful arrangements of flowers in the borders. The grass is all roped off so you can't walk on it, unlike at home where we are likely to leave food left-over from barbecues lying all over the place. There are endless numbers of outdoor cafés serving delicious pastries and coffee. After sampling the food and drink we needed to visit the loo. Sorry, it's closed for refurbishment - (go find another one).

Refurbs aside we made it to l'Orangerie at the earnest recommendation of Robert and Joan. They had been knocked out by an exhibition of Paul Klee's art and some very large paintings of waterlillies by Monet. We had a sense of being underwater while we were there and I felt I wasn't so much looking at the paintings as being consumed by them. I could understand it when Robert had said that he had felt claustrophobic when he was in these galleries.

Paul Klee's work was a revelation to me. I have been familiar with his name for decades and really knew nothing about him. He was Swiss, he taught at the Bauhaus until the Nazis made life impossible for him, he was a talented musician and poet as well as a painter. Quite a lot of his work is on a small scale as is mine and I felt I was in the presence of a kindred spirit. He is definitely someone I'd like to know more about and this made me very happy.


Marta Szabo, Curator said...

LOVE being returned to Paris by your stories, drawings & video! Seeing places (under the glass pyramid) I was just in a few months ago. Interesting to hear you describe the tuilleries in May, when I was there it was still beautiful but almost colorless. I didn't get to the orangerie, though Fred did. I liked your description of feeling kindred with Paul Klee. I haven't connected with him that much, but I will always remember being 12 years old and being given a very formal elocution exam. The examiner handed me a postcard with a painting and asked me to tell a story about it. It was a Paul Klee painting, completely abstract and at 12 years old I just launched into anything I could think of. Lots of love from Woodstock, NY where we are having the beautiful summer that eluded us last year.

jacqui boyd said...

I love Paul Klee's work but unfortunately my only memory of seeing his work at the Southbank has nothing to do with the art work. We were on a college trip, Adrian Hicken and I think it was Robin Walley were in raptures about his work. As my friend, Anna and myself watched with bated breathe about who could say the most over the top expression of delight, we both collapsed with laughter, (quietly, of course and running off quickly so we could be loud)

We learnt last year that you don't visit Paris at the end of July or early August as everyone is away on holiday- seemed like everywhere we went, there were notices on the door saying sorry but we are closed for the next month!