OASIS OF COLOUR

22 Nov 2014
Notre Dame’s bell towers looked striking against the cool autumn sky. There is something about the quality of sunlight in Paris that is poetic. We marveled again at the age of this magnificent building. 

Crowds of people were out this morning, everyone looking up and moving slowly. Me included. I wondered what Parisians think of all the tourists in Paris? I supposed it’s like my morning commute through Circular Quay in Sydney. 

We continued across Ile de la Cite, the island in the Seine, and onto Paris de l’Hotel de ville. 
“Remember when we first came to Paris and I thought that was a grand hotel” I chuckled, pointing at the town hall.  

We were on route to one of our favorite art galleries: Le Centre Pompidou. Built in 1977, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers; two starchitects I can’t imagine working together. I’ve always loved this inside-out design, with its colour coded system: blue for circulating air; yellow for circulating electricity; green for circulating water; red for circulating people. An oasis of colour in a pastel city.

At the ticket machine, an American man approached us. While he was talking to David, I couldn’t get over his likeness for Woody Allen. Same accent and manner of speaking but neater and slightly less neurotic. He was selling his ticket which he said he didn’t need to see the photography exhibition. He sold it to us for half price. 

The first thing we did was head to the top floor to take in the views over Paris. The curved perspex windows were grubby and it was difficult to shoot through. But it was still a great view! Roof tops and chimney pots as far as the eye can see, like a pale grey and gold textured carpet. Focus points rising above the skyline are Sacre-Coeur, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. 

We started at the Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) exhibition. He was a French artist who’s work covered expressionism, cubism and something called orphisim. I loved his use of colour combined with his geometry. So expressive, exuberant and dynamic. 

On the contemporary floor (from 1980’s) nothing much grabbed our interest. Room after room, we simply drifted aimlessly hoping to find something that excited us. I liked a light installation and sculpture of different spherical objects arranged in size order in a more or less straight line. It appealed to my sence of order. I find myself lining up objects according to size on my desk. (Don’t judge). 

After a light lunch at the cafe we popped into the photography exhibition that our Woody Allen guy had been to. “No wonder he wanted to get his money back” I said to Dave as we left. He laughed and said “Cut to us standing by the machines doing the same.” 

But on Level Four we started to find pieces that interested us. In particular was a beautiful painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, an artist that I was first drawn to at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC. I love her manner of stylisation and colour blending. It’s very sensual. 

Also we found a few pieces by an artist that my sister introduced me to,  Tamara de Lempicka, a glamorous Polish woman and one of the few female Art Deco artists. Her style is softly cubist with bright clear colours. 

The English translations of the French descriptions provided some insight into how the French language must be constructed. Very elaborate and long-winded comparatively speaking. This piece of description made me chuckle: 

Tamara de Lempicka, the main female exponent of Art Deco, became intrigued with arum lilies…(they) embodied the idea of femininity for her. As well as emphasising this aspect, the mirror, traditional attribute of women at their toilet, gives a reflective dimension to this painting.

Later in the evening we strolled around the streets looking for somewhere for a light supper. Last night we had passed a bistro on Boulevard Saint-Germain, that was full with a young crowd and looked good. The menu was interesting, different from the usual suspects. House cassoulet pour Monsieur et House Salad pour Madame. Delicious. No wine. We’re in need of a dry day! 

A jogging day is in order tomorrow.

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