Wanderings of an artist in the trenches.

Paris – Part Two

We left the auction house and walked along the Seine to the Musée d’Orsay where there was a Jean-Léon Gérôme exhibition covering the painter’s entire career.

The Gérôme show was incredible. Some of those paintings literally glowed. One that blew me away was of a market scene where color was being ground in large earthen pots. The entire scene was muted except for the colors in those pots, which were so vibrant! They had a gemlike quality about them. It was nice to see some of Gérôme’s famous works, “Pollice Verso”, “Phryne”, “The Serpent Charmer”, and many, many more. I’ve tried to find the market scene online to no avail. But here are a couple of the pieces seen today:

The show gave me new appreciation for Gérôme’s work, and I had no idea the amount of rancor he caused among painters and critics. Very interesting stuff.

But my real reason for going to the d’Orsay is to see the impressionist work there, as well as the Rodin and Camille Claudel sculptures. Those things alone make the d’Orsay one of my favorite places on the planet. And of course in the impressionist work, the painters that hits me hardest are Pissarro, Bonnard, Vuillard, Sisley, Degas and Monet. Cannot get enough of their work. Pissarro’s humble landscapes with his genius for subtle mauve kills me. I could stand in front of them for days and lose all sense of time. Then I step in front of Bonnard and Vuillard and am assaulted with color and design! Just lovely and daring.

After communing with these artists I then make my way upstairs to the Rodin and Claudel work, first to pause before a sculpture of a satyr by an artist I’m not familiar with. I pause here to sketch and let my back rest a bit before heading upstairs.

Then on to Rodin and Camille Claudel.

These sculptures move me to tears. The gestures, the subtle movement of muscle over bone, the twist of a finger, the turn of a wrist, an expression on a pained face! So much emotional content and empathy welling forth from these works! These pieces always make me want to draw, and of course, to sculpt. So I sketch from them today. I didn’t get any shots of the Claudel works, unfortunately, and my sketches are nothing to speak of so I won’t post them here either. But my sketch from Rodin’s “Ugolino” came out okay:

The museum closed shortly after I finished this sketch and we had to leave. I walked out of the museum pretty drained, as did Carl, so we headed on back to the hotel for a little rest before we went out for dinner.

Sketch of one of our fellow subway passengers.

After a little rest we got back on the subway and headed out near the Pompidou Center for dinner in a quaint French Cafe where the food was very good and we sat and chatted about philosophy again. After dinner back home and here I sit filling in the day’s happenings.

Tomorrow my signing is at 3:30 or so and we’ll bum around the city a bit beforehand.

More later…

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


4 responses

  1. Awesome, looks like you are having a blast. Wish I could have seen all that Gerome work. Hope your show goes well. You missed out we landscape painted with Matteo and Brooke the other day. 😛

    December 17, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    • It was fun!

      Bummed that I missed landscaping with you guys. Definitely have to get out with all of you.


      January 13, 2011 at 6:46 PM

  2. I can’t wait to get to that museum and see all that stuff for myself. A reproduction in a book is hardly ever comparable to the subtleties of the real thing. Especially with those Vuillard’s and Bonnard’s! so much texture and subtle color must get lost in a photo.

    January 4, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    • Thanks, Vincent,
      Seeing things in print is funny. They have a sort of life of their own, very independent of the original piece of work. Take Sargent’s “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” or “the Lamplighters”. I absolutely love that painting, and my original introduction to it, as with so very many pieces of art, was through reproductions. I couldn’t get enough of it! Then, years later I got to see the original at the Tate in London. Oh.My.God! The reproductions have NEVER EVER come close! One, the scale is too much, it’s huge! And number two, the colors are exquisite! Subtle blues and greens, whereas the reproductions seem to favor the greens, and push them warmer (a tendency of print anyway).

      So now, after seeing the original, the reproductions feel like cheap reminders, if anything.


      January 13, 2011 at 6:45 PM

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