Tuesday, January 31, 2012

At the Orsay in Paris

My previous visits to Paris had been filled with the less daunting art museums than the Louvre. I had been to the Pan-Arab Museum, the Rodin, the Picasso and several other small museums which could be enjoyed in a single day.

My last trip to Paris was in very cold December. Thinking that the museums would be less crowded, I made a commitment to see the Louvre and the Musee D'Orsay (above photo).

The Louvre was gigantic, noisy and difficult to navigate. On the other hand,the Orsay was "just right" (as Goldilocks would say). I was enchanted with it the minute I passed through the ticket booth. It was like coming home. Perfect. I would return several more times just to see everything and commit what I saw to memory. (I'm sure there's still my well-worn path from the Metro to the Orsay.)

The Orsay building started life as a train station facing the Seine river. Thanks to the 14-year vision of Michel Laclotte, the chief curator of the paintings department at the Louvre, the station was converted to an art museum in 1986.

The museum is dedicated to the period from 1848 to 1905. For those of you who are enchanted by the Impressionists' period as I am, this museum is heaven. Yet, the museum levels are arranged so that the viewer can see the works of master artist prior to the Impressionist all the way to the post-Impressionists.

My personal favorite was the area where pastels are exhibited. You can see the quick sketches of Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, and others who were drawing in the moment. These sketches were often done on whatever paper was available. To keep paper and pastel from deterioration, these rooms are darkened and the arts kept in temperature/moistured controlled glass displays.

There is a feeling of reference in these darkened room. It's as if the viewer is watching the hand of the artist at the moment of creativity. It was time travel. As I looked at the sketches and the immediacy of them, I felt as if I was looking over the shoulder of the artist.

On my last day in Paris, I resolved to spend whatever time I had in the Orsay, soaking up the art.

I salute the visionaries who created such a wonderful museum. Must not forget... when you need a break, the French live up to their gastronomic reputation - the restaurant is a delight. (photo left)

Next week join me for the art at the Orsay and a few personal favorites.

Meantime don't forget the contest to NAME the ART.


  1. I'd love to go to Paris and Orsay is on my list. Some day, I hope. Leo

  2. I've been and it's everything R wrote ++ Jan

  3. I had a look at your rumination about Orsay museum. I have seen the new rooms last December, you would like them. The paintings are presented on colored walls, the impression is terrific! For your next trip to Paris! S from Paris.