For several trips, spacemen have been everywhere in Paris.You only have to look up to see them.All around town, above the beautiful facades of the houses and perfectly kept storefronts, spacemen abound.
They are landing – or taking off – as the case may be.Who knows?But, they are everywhere.Even imitation spacemen have been clinging to life and appearing around the city. These spacemen are not real, I guess.Rather, they are created in tiles that are affixed to the sides of buildings.They look right out of a video game from the 1980s when video games first featured aliens. And, these alien spacemen are in a rainbow of colors.Some subdued, some fantastic.No two appear to be the same.
Spaceman on the corner wall.
Mystery of the Spacemen
For quite some time, the spacemen have been a mystery to me.Finally, when perusing a modern art catalog from the auction house, Tajan, the mystery was revealed.
Invader (born 1969), the artist who creates these unique pieces, has multiple examples for sale in the Tajan November 6, 2019 sale.And, they are not inexpensive.The auction also features a couple of books.One has a micro mosaic cover!It is called, in my translation, “The Invasion of Paris (invasion Guide 01) 2003-2005”. Who knew???
The spacemen are amusing and fun to search for all around Paris.It can add a little hide and seek to your walks. Invader has expanded beyond Paris.Look in New York City, Miami, Marrakech, Tokyo, Seoul, Varanasi, Mumbai, all over Europe and Invader is heading to the farthest outposts.Have you seen any spacemen?
Take a look at the photos to see the real Invader work, as well as some imitations.
Now that La Rentrée is complete, it is time to start trip planning in the winter and into 2020. Here are a few highlights that begin with visual arts and exhibits.
Théâtre du Châtelet
The Théâtre du Châtelet will reopen in September after a 30-month renovation. A sumptuous theater, but at the same time with an intimate audience space. One tremendous idea of the co-directors is to introduce an idea that people who purchase tickets for a show buy extra tickets for those who cannot afford them. What a refreshing idea! Along with avant-garde theater, the Théâtre du Châtelet will perform An American in Paris from November 28, 2019 until January 1, 2020.
Léonard da Vinci Exhibit
That is correct. The French do not call him Leonardo, rather Léonard. Buy your tickets now for the sensational celebration of Léonard da Vinci at the Louvre. From October 24, 2019 until February 24, 2020. You can get priority access by becoming a Friend of the Louvre. Add this to your trip planning as the main event. Then, schedule other things around this once in many, many lifetimes opportunity. I am trying to make it to see this!
Leonardo, Virgin of the Rocks.
Skip Mona – this is on the wall with no one looking at it!!!! Next to other masterpieces by him – bonus – and people walk by with no clue.
A change at the Louvre you definitely need to know. If you have a museum pass, you must now reserve a time to enter the Louvre. Best advice on visiting – go when it opens or go on a Wednesday or Friday late afternoon or evening. The Louvre is open until 9:45pm on those two days. (You don’t want me to gush about how enchanting it is to visit the Louvre in the nighttime.) Remember, Tuesdays, the Louvre is closed. You can always buy timed entry tickets online as well.
Grand Palais Exhibits
Three extraordinary events are coming to the Grand Palais!
First, we know him as El Greco, but the name of the exhibit is GRECO from October 16, 2019 – February 10, 2020. This is the FIRST retrospective in France dedicated to El Greco!!! What a bonus for Paris! From the Grand Palais’ site: “Attracted by the incredible promise of the El Escorial site, the artist brought Titian’s color, Tintoretto’s audacity, and Michelangelo’s heroic style. This eloquent combination, original yet consistent with his own way, gave El Greco (who died four years after Caravaggio) a unique place in the history of painting, as the last grandmaster of the Renaissance and the first great painter of the Golden Age.”
Second, on October 9, 2019, the exhibition TOULOUSE-LAUTREC, Resolutely Modern opens. It is another retrospective, and the last one was in 1992. It runs until January 27, 2020. Rather than focusing on what is called, the “Montmartre Culture,” this exhibition explores his art, on its own. And, in the Grand Palais’ site, it states, “By giving too much weight to the context and folklore of the Moulin-Rouge, we have lost sight of the aesthetic, poetic ambition which Lautrec invested in what he learned, in turn, from Princeteau, Bonnat, and Cormon.” It should be fascinating.
Third, and not the least by far, is Paris Photo. From November 7-10, 2019, you can see amazing art under the glass ceiling of the Grand Palais. “Paris Photo is the largest international art fair dedicated to the photographic medium and is held each November at the historic Grand Palais in Paris. Since 1997, the Fair’s mission is to promote and nurture photographic creation and the galleries, publishers, and artists at its source. Paris Photo brings together up to 200 exhibitors from across the world, offering collectors and enthusiasts the most diverse and qualitative presentation of photography-driven projects today. Leading galleries showcase historical and contemporary artworks from modern masters to young talents.” From https://www.parisphoto.com/en/fair/About/.
That is three events in one space to consider in your trip planning.
Jeu de Paume
Photographs by Peter Hujar are coming soon to the Jeu de Paume in an exhibition, Peter Hujar Speed of Life. In keeping with its goal of promoting mechanical and electronic imagery of the 20th and 21st centuries, it stays on the cutting edge. From October 15, 2019, until January 19, 2020, Hujar’s work will entice visitors into the beautiful building where court games were once played. The press for this exhibit describes the artist as, “In his loft studio in the East Village, Hujar focused on those who followed their creative instincts and shunned mainstream success. He made, in his words, “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects,” immortalizing moments, individuals, and subcultures passing at the speed of life.” From the Jeu de Paume’s website. Also on view late 2019 and early 2020 are exhibits of work by Daisuke Kosugi and Zineb Sedira.
October 14 – RÜFÜS DU SOL. In the Yoyo at Palais de Tokyo. An amazing venue for this Australian group to perform!!!
Also, from October 16, 2019, until January 5, 2010, Futur, ancien, fugitif is an exhibition of contemporary works from artists of varying ages, living throughout France and other countries. None of the artist’s work is in the same medium or in the same method. All of the invited artists will answer and explore similar existential questions through their works. Like many of the other exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo, this one sounds like it will be interesting and mind-expanding.
Sorry, but this gem will be closed until the fall or winter of 2020 for renovation and enlargement. Obviously, the word has gotten out that this place is a must see – the number of visitors doubled between 2016 and 2018. Put it in your trip planning at some point.
Not into English painting? What about paintings from the Italian Renaissance? If so, make trip planning a priority to see, The Alana Collection, Masterpieces of Italian Painting. In this unprecedented loan, seventy-five masterpieces from Italian masters will hang in the sumptuous rooms of the Musée Jacquemart-André. From September 13, 2019, until January 20, 2020, admire works by Lorenzo Monaco, Fra Angelico, Uccello, Lippi, Bellini, Carpaccio, Tintoretto, Veronese, Bronzino, and Gentileschi.
One hundred works from ‘Naïve’ artists (“Called ‘modern primitives’ by one of their ardent supporters”) soon will grace the Musee Maillol in the exhibition entitled, From the Douanier Rousseau to Séraphine, The Great Naïve Masters. From September 11, 2019, to January 19, 2020, you can be mesmerized by the seemingly simplistic art by André Bauchant, Camille Bombois, Ferdinand Desnos, Jean Ève, René Rimbert, Dominique Peyronnet, and Louis Vivin. From the museum’s site: “By combining a historical, analytical, and perceptive approach to the works and their presentation in the exhibition, the Musée Maillol will unveil the subversive dimension of Naïve art and will present these Naïve, primitive, modern, or anti-modern artists as great artists who ran counter to the avant-garde artists.”
Fondation Louis Vuitton
Charlotte Perriand: Inventing a New World will be on view from October 2, 2019, to February 24, 2020. The website for the Fondation describes the exhibit, “To mark the twentieth anniversary of the passing of Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999), the Fondation pays tribute to her as an architect and visionary creator through an exhibition of her work exploring the links between art, architecture and design.” Charlotte Perriand worked with both Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in her youth. She designed interiors for the art of living, “L’Art de Vivre,” with the idea that everything working in conjunction, beautifully, creates a better place for all of us.
And, for an abbreviated round up of highlights from the performing arts…. There is just soooo much happening in Paris…..
Opéra National de Paris
Over at the Opéra National de Paris, at both venues – Palais Garnier and the Opéra Bastille – of course, there are some of the most in-demand events in the world. Well-known operas from Madam Butterfly to Don Carlo, but also with lesser-knowns, like Les Indes Galantes and Boris Godunov. Plus newer works like Lear. And, the opera is performing a few works from Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
On the ballet and dance front, the troupe is performing a Balanchine tribute from February through April 2020, Giselle in January and February of that year. But, from January 18-29, the ballet will perform Debussy and Ravel together for a cosmic performance. Described on the website as, “Guided by her perpetual fascination for the relationship between pure movement and music, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker takes up Prélude à l’après‑midi d’un faune with the dancers of the Rosas Company. The performance continues with L’Enfant et les sortilèges, a tale written by Colette and finely orchestrated by Ravel. In Richard Jones and Antony McDonald’s production, the singers of the Academy suffuse this work with the freshness of youth.”
As well as many concerts and events. And lots of “Young Audience” events that are great for all ages. Each seems like it is a can’t miss engagement.
Philharmonie de Paris
Okay, the Philharmonie de Paris has about 500 concerts each year – of every kind of music. Plus, it has a museum and mounts exhibitions. A LOT is happening. Some interesting and fun events are the movies where the orchestra plays the music. Yes, live music at a movie. Take a look at the calendar once you have your dates and make a plan to visit this incredible venue. The building alone is worth a visit, but add in talented musicians and singers and performers and you have a guaranteed exciting time.
Around the globe, celebrations are marking the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. Leonardo, from the town of Vinci, hence “da Vinci,” is the Italian Renaissance master who is probably the best known painter, architect, sculptor, engineer, …. in the world. He was born in 1452 – forty years before Columbus “discovered” America!
On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, Amboise, a small town on the Loire River, deserves a little recognition. It is here, after all, at the Close Lucé manor house, where Leonardo died in 1519. It is a special place in the history of art and plays an important role in the French Renaissance.
The Close Lucé, final home of Leonardo da Vinci and temporary home of the Mona Lisa.
Why Was Leonardo at Amboise?
For at least four reasons.
Because in 1516, François I, the king of France, had his court at the Château d’Amboise. The castle is located in a prime position to protect the realm of the crown and had also been the location for the French court for several kings before François I.
Along with having his court at Amboise and importantly for lovers of art, François I is known as the French Renaissance patron king. He not only loved arts and literature, but he promoted these as primary goals in French culture.
Leonardo’s commissions in Italy had been completed and he was left with no patronage. Remember he was not selling his paintings for hundreds of millions of euros at that time! And, he was eclipsed by Raphael and Michaelangelo in terms of favor with the current regimes.
Upon learning of the master’s availability, François I and Louise de Savoie invite Leonardo da Vinci to the French court at the Château d’Amboise.
Leonardo accepts the invitation. He leaves Italy and travels for two months to eventually reach Amboise. What is significant for art lovers is that he brings three important paintings with him: St. John the Baptist, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, and …. the Mona Lisa. (It is nearly impossible to think of the 64 year old riding a mule and toting those incredible paintings across the Alps and through the countryside!)
At Clos Lucé
When Leonardo finally arrives, François I names him, “Premier Painter, Engineer and Architect of the King.” As patron, the king provides the master with a stipend as well as dignified lodging in the Clos Lucé manor house. Here, da Vinci lives the last few years of his life, living and working in the beautiful Loire Valley. In 1519, Leonardo dies in his bedroom at Clos Lucé. Then, he is buried at the Chapel of St. Florentin. During the Revolution, the chapel was practically destroyed, and the alleged remains of Leonardo are moved to the Chapel of Saint Hubert. Today, a marble slab marks this as Leonardo’s tomb, although questions remain as to who is buried in Leonardo’s tomb.
Today, visitors can visit the house where Leonardo lived and work. In these rooms Leonardo designed elements for a castle, including a double helix staircase. Such a staircase can be found an hour away at the Château de Chambord. The rooms have been recreated with period furnishings as well as multimedia presentations about his life and work in Clos Lucé.
Down in the basement, you can see three dimensional animations and 40 models of designs by Leonardo. And, out in the garden around the house, you will find a sculpture garden of sorts. It features more models of designs by Leonardo including the assault chariot, double span bridge, tank, and multi-barreled gun.
Model of a tank designed by Leonardo da Vinci on the grounds of Close Lucé.
Amboise is one hour away from Paris by TGV and two hours by car. At Clos Lucé, see Leonardo’s bedroom, studio and other rooms in the manor house.
One hour away is Chambord Also celebrating “half-millennium” since the construction began in 1519 under the instruction of François I. Official website: https://www.chambord.org/en/
Want to know more about Leonardo? Read a biography of Leonardo: Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
Special note when visiting the Louvre: Although the Mona Lisa is mobbed with visitors wanting to see her, several other masterpieces by Leonardo are just outside the Mona Lisa’s dedicated room. Most people walk by without noticing them on the way to see the most famous painting in the world. This is understandable since there are so many masterpieces on the walls there. But, if you love Leonardo, take your time in the Grand Gallery and get up close and admire his talents.
Visual and performing arts again take center stage when planning a trip to Paris. Along with organ concerts and musical performance at many churches, take a look at this super short list of exciting events. They may be enough reason to start planning now.
Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac hosts a comprehensive exhibition on Oceania from March 12, 2019 until July 7, 2019. On the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific region, encompassing the 25,000 islands of Oceania, he introduced the Western world to Oceanic peoples and their art. From the museum’s website, “Across this vast, scattered territory in which each archipelago island and land has managed to preserve its own unique characteristics, artists nonetheless share universal questions, issues, and reflections. Featuring painstakingly sculpted canoes, jade ornaments, ritual figures, and contemporary videos and installations, Oceania reveals how tradition and ancestral memory coexist with the visionary and sometimes critical perspective that these artists have of their society and the rest of the world.”
Palais de Tokyo
Various exhibitions and site-specific installations fill the huge spaces here. From Julien Creuzet, Theaster Gates, Julius von Bismark, to Louis-Cyprien Rials and more. These young artists are exploring world societies norms and histories and putting it right in front through cutting edge art. Open from noon to midnight every day except Tuesdays. Buckle up and take a look at the exhibits filling the Palais de Tokyo.
“Calder-Picasso” is on view from February 19, 2019, until August 25, 2019, at the National Picasso Museum Paris (Musée National Picasso-Paris). This exhibition will be a rare chance to see together approximately 150 works by these two 20th century masters. Negative space or the void is the focus of the show. Should be an interesting mash-up.
The Orient of the Painters, from Dream to Light
From March 7, 2019, until July 21, 2019, the Musée Marmottan Monet mounts “The Orient of the Painters, from Dream to Light.” This show presents Orientalist paintings along with the theory that abstraction had its birth in these Orientalism paintings. (During the 19th century, the “Orient” to the painters in Europe was generally the Middle East and North African countries. The distant exotic lands had only been revealed through Napoleon’s conquests and the return of stories and trophies.) The paintings are alive with vivid color and fantastical scenes. May have to make a return trip to see this show or at least hope for a catalog.
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Closed for rehanging and installation. Reopens March 15, 2019.
Opéra National de Paris – Bastille
Over at the Opéra Bastille, enjoy timeless favorites by recognized masters of opera. Or, see the experimental, Tree of Codes. What about the not too often performed, Prince Igor by Borodine? Or, Rameau’s opera-ballet, Les Indes galantes?
Celebrate the 350th anniversary of Opera in Paris at the Palais Garnier on 08 May 2019. The incredible diva, Anna Netrebko, will perform along with Yusif Eyvazov. Throughout the remainder of the spring season, Mozart, Verdi, and Donizetti are on the stage, as well as many ballet performances. All are in the sumptuous red velvet and gilded surrounds of the famous opera house.
Find a variety of concerts, chamber music, choral works and solo singing performances in the spring. Berlioz’s Requiem, Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and even Benjamin Brittan’s War Requiem. Where else can you hear these?
Theatre National de Chaillot
Théâtre National de Chaillot offers a selection of interesting and arresting dance performances. Just reading the titles of the works is enticing: Some Hope for the Bastards by Canadian, Frédérick Gravel; Nederlands Dans Theater’s, Subtle Dust; Catherine Diverrès’, Blow The Bloody Doors Off!
Everyone knows the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, but in Paris, there are plenty of opportunities to find lesser known museums. Most of these are kind of double-headers as museums go. The house or building is an outstanding work of art along with the art that is inside. Make sure to put a few of the two-for-ones on your Paris List.
1. Musée Picasso Paris
Photo by Yann Caradec from Paris, France, Musée Picasso, Paris 1 November 2014, CC BY-SA 2.0
The Musée Picasso Paris is located in the newly renovated Hôtel Salé. Originally restored between 1974 – 1979 as an historical monument, it was transformed into a museum between 1979 and the 1985 opening.
During that time, the house from the 1600s was carefully converted into a magnificent art space. It is truly an outstanding example of a Hotel Particulier – or private mansion.
In 1985, Bruno Foucart described the Hôtel Salé as, “the grandest, most extraordinary, if not the most extravagant, of the grand Parisian houses of the 17th century”.
And, what is inside? Works from the prolific master, Pablo Picasso. More than 5,000 paintings, etchings, engravings, sketches and sculputures.
Make sure to notice the incredible stucco and stone work in the mansion – you really can’t help but see it.
2. Musée Marmottan Monet
Claude Monet, “Impression, soleil levant.” The painting that gave its name to Impressionism.
More than 300 works by Claude Monet occupy the Musée Marmottan Monet. The elegant home in the 16th arrondissement is where you can see the painting that gave its name to Impressionism. Claude Monet’s “Impression, soleil levant” (“Impression, sunrise” in English), may not be as big of a stunner as other works by Monet. But, without a doubt, you will instantly recognize it as an impressionist painting.
In 1966, Michel Monet, the son of Claude Monet, gave his inherited collection of his father’s paintings to the Musée Marmottan Monet. Along with the largest collection of Monets, you can see works by Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Sisley, Morisot and many more. The house itself is worthy of a visit on its own. It is a creaky-floored example of a well-off family’s townhouse.
As with several other famous paintings, “Impression, soleil levant” was at the center of an art heist in 1985. Armed bandits stole that painting and several others. Eventually, all were recovered in Corsica in 1990.
Late opening until 9pm on Thursdays.
3. Musée Rodin
Another incredible house with sumptuous grounds and gardens to match! After a recent renovation inside the Musée Rodin, it is even more marvelous than before. This mansion is like a country estate in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. And, it includes loads of Rodins! About 300 – both inside and out.
Originally built in the early 1700s on the outer limits of Paris, the Hôtel Biron was commissioned by a wealthy financier. He did not live to see the project completed, but a host of other luminaries lived in the house from a duchess, to a cardinal, to Jean Cocteau and eventually Rodin. Rodin made a deal with the French government – let me stay in the house and I will give you all of my remaining art when I die. Sounds like a good deal.
The house is extraordinary. High ceilings, wood floors, beautiful staircase, windows everywhere. And, the sculptures fit as if they were meant to be there – basking in natural light. On the grounds, you will see old roses with nearly forearm-sized canes and manicured lawns. Then, under the trees and along the sides, admire monumental sculptures by the master, including the Gates of Hell, the Thinker and the Burghers of Calais. If you need it, take a rest at the café under the trees.
4. Maison de Victor Hugo
Maison de Victor Hugo
Want to see what one of the townhouses on the Place des Vosges looks like? And, visit the home of one of the most famous writers ever? Find your way to the 4th arrondissement and visit the Maison de Victor Hugo.
Victor Hugo lived in this apartment from 1832 – 1848. The museum is arranged in chronological order of Hugo’s life. Decorations and furniture from his other residences have been donated by his family and are shown in various rooms. As well as seeing the bed where he died in 1885, you can view the desk where he stood to write his famous literature.
Look out the windows for glorious views onto the Place des Vosges and the statue of Louis XIII. If you are interested in French fiction, history and the life of one of France’s greatest writers, you should consider visiting Maison de Victor Hugo. Or, go take a look if you just really love the apartments around the Place des Vosges.
5. Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art)
This relatively new endeavor in the 14th arrondissement is dedicated to promoting contemporary art from around the world. Not only contemporary visual art, but also any contemporary art media.
Its website states, “As a reflection of our times, the Fondation Cartier embraces all creative fields and genres of contemporary art, ranging from design to photography, from painting to video art and from fashion to performance art. This testifies to the Fondation Cartier’s commitment and skill, to its blend of rigor and eclecticism which opens up contemporary art and renders it more accessible.” Read, You will not see any stuffy old portraits here!
Jean Nouvel, the Pritzker Prize winning architect, designed the glass and steel building specifically for the Cartier Foundation. On the garden side, it is kind of like a layer cake with a terrace on top. And from the street side it is reflective panels of glass. You can even take an architectural tour to learn more about the space, see the specially designed furniture and even see some of the offices.
And, get outside to survey the Theatrum Botanicum, the foundation’s garden designed by Lothar Baumgarten. It is described as a work in progress. Even though it may seem wild, it is a natural oasis that is a counter point to the rigor of the architecture.
6. Fondation Louis Vuitton (Louis Vuitton Foundation)
Another new and important arts space, the Fondation Louis Vuitton (FVL), is dedicated to promoting art and culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. Only a little west of Paris proper, the overwhelmingly popular destination is in the Bois de Boulogne. Frank Gehry designed the architecturally significant structure and it is an artwork itself.
When it opened in 2014, FVL was an immediate hit with the public. FVL is a private collection that, “comprises a constantly evolving body of work that naturally falls into four categories: Contemplative, Pop, Expressionist, Music & Sound.”
Be ready to have your senses overloaded while visiting FVL. If you want to get ready, all of the pieces in the collection can be seen on the website. And, you can see the multiple exhibitions displayed at any one time from artists from all corners of the globe.
7. Musée Carnavalet
Paris Map from 1576 by Dalbera
In the Marais, two architectural gems of townhouses are joined together creating a museum that tells the history of Paris. One townhouse was built in the 1550s; the second in 1688. Together they make up the extraordinary Musée Carnavalet showcasing the history of Paris.
One hundred rooms are chock-a-block with art, objects, furniture and displays. Plus, the gardens outside are charming and beautiful examples of the French know-how with plants. From the ancient history of the Parisii, all the way to the 20th century, see the history of the City of Light unfold in this elegant museum.
It is closed for renovation until the end of 2019.
8. Musée de Cluny, Musée National du Moyen Âge (Cluny Museum, National Museum of the Middle Ages)
Roman baths in the middle of Paris? You bet. What about medieval treasures including the most enigmatic tapestries in the world? The Cluny Museum is the place for you.
The ancient Roman baths of Lutetia (the Roman name of Paris) date from the 1st or 2nd century AD. They include a giant cold room (frigidarium), hot rooms (caldarium) and a gym or wrestling room (palestra). It is amazing to be walking along boulevard St. Germain or boulevard St. Michel and gaze across a lawn and see interesting brick and stone work walls with massive Roman arches. And, they are conjoined with a 15th century Gothic mansion that was home to the abbots of Cluny.
Inside this turreted medieval showplace you can find medieval and Renaissance works of art. Amazing objects including statuary, furniture, architectural elements, religious icons, mosaics and tapestries. A group of maybe the most famous tapestries are displayed here.
The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame à la Licorne) tapestries are in a room by themselves and it is breathtaking to see these marvelous art works at one time. First, they are huge. Second, they are intricately detailed, full of symbolism and gorgeous. Third, they were woven around 1500 to represent the five senses. The sixth tapestry shows the lady in front of a tent with a banner containing the words, “à mon seul désir”. It is this tapestry that is the subject of much discussion as to what that phrase means. Literally, the words translate as, “to my only desire.” And, what do those words with those images mean? Take a look for yourself and make your own determination.
Such intrigue in the Middle Ages! Like many of the other lesser known museums in this article, the Cluny is a manageable size and great for an hour or two visit.
9. Musée Jacquemart-André
Paolo Uccello (1397 – 1475), Saint Georges and the Dragon
This house museum was designed with the intention of showcasing the owners’ art collection. Edouard André began passionately collecting art in the 1860s. And, soon, he needed a place to display it. So what else does one wealthy art collector do? He commissioned a mansion on Boulevard Hausmann in the 8th arrondissement.
Little did he know that he would one day meet his collecting match in Nélie Jacquemart. They married and spent 13 years together in a collecting frenzy. Even after Edouard died in 1893, she spent the rest of her life collecting art. And, eventually turning the house into the museum we see today, the Musée Jacquemart-André.
Along with notable sculptures, paintings, decorative objects, carpets and a plethora of art treasures, it includes medieval masterpieces by Botticelli, Donatello, Bellini and Mantegna. Also, it has a café under a Tiepolo fresco.
10. Musée Nissim de Camondo
Nissim de Camondo kitchen
Count Moïse de Camondo’s express intention was “to recreate an eighteenth-century artistic residence.” And, that is what he did. Fully preserved as it was originally built between 1911 and 1914. It is mansion in the style of the Petit Trianon of Versailles. But, with all the modern conveniences of the most advanced houses of the time. (Check out the kitchen.) And, the Musée Nissim de Camondo is maintained as if it were still a private home.
Can you imagine living in this place?
It is an elegant way to spend an hour or two. Perusing the objects, imagining life at that time – or in the 18th century, looking out to the Parc Monceau. Nearly all of the objects are from the second half of the 18th century (1750-1799) from the periods of Louis XV and Louis XVI. Masterpieces by the most superb craftsmen of the time. Incredibly beautiful, refined to the last detail. Carpets, paintings, furniture and all kinds of objects tastefully fill the rooms.
Now, the museum has a restaurant in the former parking area. So, take your time to explore this mansion.
Along with Beauty Comes a Sad History
However, it is a sad history that provides this beauty. Nissim de Camondo, the son of Count Moïse de Camondo and his wife Countess Irene, joined the French Army when World War I began. He became a pilot and died in air combat in 1917. At the Count’s death in 1935, he left the mansion and its contents to in honor of his son to create a museum. Later, Nissim’s sister, Béatrice, along with her two children and ex-husband died in Auschwitz.
11. Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet (Guimet Museum)
Just down the hill from where visitors gasp at the Eiffel Tower, the Guimet Museum houses France’s national Asian art museum. Like most of the capitol’s museums, the building is impressive and imposing.
But, the more than 45,000 objects within are even more spectacular. Masterpieces from the Asian world fill the space. Musée Guimet holds the largest collection of Asian objects outside of Asia. Originally, the collection was in Lyon, from where Émile Guilmet hailed. But, later, moved to Paris.
Tibet, Nepal, Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, India, Thailand, Indonesia and even more near Eastern cultures are represented. Monsieur Guimet traveled extensively and collected voraciously. That is what you can do as an industrialist.
12. Musée Cernuschi; Musée des Arts de l’Asie de la Ville de Paris (Cernuschi Museum)
Photo by Guillaume Jacquet, Cernuschi Museum 20060812 138, CC BY-SA 3.0
In 1871, Henri Cernuschi began a 28 month tour of Asia. On that voyage to the East, he collected around 5,000 pieces of art and artifacts from great Asian civilizations. All of these were shipped back to Paris and they form the core of this extensive collection. Imagine that trip!
Han and Wei funerary statutes, Sung porcelain, bronze Buddhas, terracotta works. When visiting Kyoto and Nara, he had to have special permission and was only allowed to enter by sedan chair. When he returned to Paris after the tour, he built a mansion to house his collection.
Also, Cernuschi acquired some incredible vintage photos of Asia in the 19th century that are fascinating to see. Before he died, Cernuschi left his home and collection to the City of Paris. The Cernuschi Museum opened in 1898.
Practically around the corner from the Musée Nissim de Camondo. Also on the Parc Monceau.
Originally built for the International Exhibition of Arts and Technology of 1937, the name came from the street it was on – the Quai de Tokio. Currently, the street is named, Avenue de New York. This grand building is now home to a modern art museum and to Europe’s largest center of contemporary art.
On one side, you will find the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris). Furniture, painting, art objects, carpets, furniture and statuary from the beginning of the 20th century laze around the building. Nothing is too cramped or squished in this museum. The rooms are expansive with soaring ceilings.
Along with works by Picasso, Modigliani, Derain, Chagall and other major artists from the period, two exceptional works are here. One is Raoul Dufy’s, “La Fée électricité,” illustrating man’s harnessing and using electricity. The mural is in a room by itself, deservedly. The other is Henri Matisse’s, “La Danse.” This installation on an entire wall of an exhibition space of the palais can be breathtaking.
And, on the other side, the Palais de Tokyo. The contemporary art space only shows temporary exhibitions of emerging art from all over the world. Read – it can be challenging to comprehend the depth of the artist’s work at a glance. On the other hand, it is open until Midnight every day except Tuesday. So, go after dinner if you need a walk.
A little of the description from its website, “A rebellious wasteland with the air of a Palace, an anti-museum in permanent transformation, Palais de Tokyo has kept Paris full of life and on its toes since 2002. At once convivial and challenging, generous and cutting edge, inviting and radical, poetic and transgressive, it is a space to learn, to experience, to feel, and to live – a space from which the unexpected springs forth.” Go see what can inspire such a description.
Check out the gift shop at the Palais de Tokyo for cool journals as souvenirs for students back home. And, take a picture in the photo booth, called, “Foto Automat.” Look for it and pose for the camera.
14. Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
Musée du Quai Branly
In 2006, the Musée du quai Branly opened to great fanfare. Finally, France had its wish of a museum dedicated to non-European societies and to presenting the objects formerly seen as ethnographic in an artistic setting.
Jean Nouvel designed the building that sits in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower along the Seine. One whole side is covered in a living wall of greenery. As you enter, a clear cylinder of storage is packed with treasures that beckon visitors to crane their necks to see more of what is inside.
And, storage they must have by the boxcar. The museum is home to more than 300,000 works from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. ” Located on the banks of the River Seine, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac aims to promote the Arts and Civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, at the crossroads of multiple cultural, religious and historical influences. As a space for scientific and artistic dialog, the museum offers a cultural program of exhibits, performances, lectures, workshops and screenings.”
Although the lighting could be a little brighter so you are not in fear of tripping, the experience is a must.
15. Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
From my friend, Lynn – One of the great finds on this past Paris trip was the small museum, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. It is in two buildings. The 17th c. Hôtel de Guénégaud and the next door 18th c. Hôtel de Mongelas. It is unlike any museum I have ever been in. It is set up like an “imaginary residence of a hunter and collector.” You wander through rooms dedicated to individual animals, such as the wild boar room.
There you learn how important the boar was for its flesh and how dangerous the animal is. There are examples of boar teeth, prints, paintings and even drawers with scat. The way it’s presented is novel and intense and not just a stuffed boar hanging on the wall. It is as much about art as it is about hunting. This is true for every room.
Lynn’s description made me put this on my list of must-see places! Taxidermy included, but, from what it seems, much more as well.
Here Are Some Cultural Highlights Coming to Paris Soon
The upcoming fall and winter Parisian cultural season is the prime time for visitors who love visual and performing arts. Paris is one of the cultural capitals of the world and each year it puts on a show for locals and visitors. There is no need to understand French to enjoy paintings and listen to music. However, drama can be a little daunting. But, if you love to attend plays, by all means, enjoy the scenery and the acting.
Along with the art being exhibited and performed, the buildings housing these shows and performances are worth exploring and admiring in their own right. The cultural opportunities in Paris are pretty much endless. But, here are a few highlights from the upcoming fall and winter Parisian cultural season.
National Picasso Museum Paris (Musée National Picasso-Paris)
Picasso Masterpieces! is a new exhibit in the newly re-opened museum. Out of his extraordinarily prolific career, the museum investigates what it means to be a masterpiece. Some of the pieces are exhibited for the first time in Paris.
Picasso. Blue and Rose. In collaboration with the Picasso Museum, the Musée d’Orsay is exhibiting paintings, sculptures and drawings in a show of his work from 1900-1906. The works are arranged showing the artist’s development into the blue and rose periods. Extraordinary works from when Pablo Picasso was very young.
Orsay through the Eyes of Julian Schnabel. For its first show of contemporary art, the Musée d’Orsay chose Julian Schnabel to interpret the collection. The filmmaker and painter includes works from the museum’s collection and also presents some of his own paintings.
Photo by Ron Clausen
Magnificent Venice!, Miró and Michael Jackson. The Grand Palais is staging exhibitions this fall and winter season that should entice people with a variety of tastes. Magnificent Venice! explores Europe and the arts in the 18th century. While, Miró displays nearly 150 works by the surrealist Spanish master, Joan Miró. Also, an exhibition on Michael Jackson subtitled, “On the Wall”. It explores the cultural impact of Michael Jackson. Who is in for some MJ?
Paris Photo. The annual international photography exhibition in the great hall of the Grand Palais. Most noteworthy works from well-known masters as well as up and coming stars are shown by galleries from all over the world. Get ready to be overwhelmed by photographs and see the magnificent glass ceiling.
The City of Paris’ fine art museum has a few exhibitions that may attract a more focused group of admirers. Jean Jacques Lequeu (1757-1826) Builder of Fantasy, shows the complete collection of several hundred drawings by the artist, for the first time. Another show features the work of the Belgian artist, Fernad Khnopff (1858-1921) The Master of Enigma. Surprises await those who venture into the Petit Palais.
Under the pyramid in the Louvre, a contemporary art installation sure to blow you away. Kohei Nawa’s Throne, is a monumental gilded work combing modern technology and ancient symbols.
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Along with its permanent collection, visit this museum for the amazing building and shows on Zao Wou-Ki and Ron Amir. The huge rooms are just the place for these artists who produce over-size work. Zao Wou-Ki paints and draws huge images. And, this collection of Amir’s large format color photos provide insight into the living conditions of refugees from Sudan and Eritrea.
Opéra National de Paris
Mid-September begins the opera season in Paris. Productions are being staged at the Opéra Basitlle and the Palais Garnier that include repertory works of Tristan und Isolde, La Traviata, and l’Elisir d’Amore. And, new productions this fall and winter include Les Huguenots, Bérénice, Il Primo Omicidio and Les Troyens. And, on December 30 and 31st, the Paris Opera will begin a celebration of its 350th year. Yes, 350th! The Paris Opera was begun by Louis XIV in 1669.
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Verdi’s La Traviata is the main opera production this fall. And, the beautiful theater which opened in with the performance of Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring. Imagine being there then! Chamber Orchestra of Paris also performs in this space with a variety of scheduled appearances. The theater also schedules vocal recitals, concert productions of operas, classic and contemporary dance and even Sunday Morning concerts!
The Paris Orchestra (Orchestra de Paris) performs symphonic works in its new home, the organic and innovative Philharmonie de Paris in the Parc de la Villette. Works by Beethoven, Britten, Berlioz and the rest of the alphabet of composers of grand music.
Palais Opera Ballet
Over at the Palais Garnier, dance lovers can visit the fabled opera house which is a venue for the Paris Opera Ballet. See Decadance, Tribute to Jerome Robbins, Cinderella and even an interesting succession of Goecke/Lidberg/Cherkaoui. This last is a work that displays dance and theater by three very different choreographers. No French language skills needed to enjoy the ballet.
Coinciding with Picasso. Blue and Rose and Picasso Masterpiece!, the Théâtre du Châtelet will present Picasso Circus in the Musée d’Orsay for people to learn about circus acts, meet performers and see demonstrations.
Théâtre de la Ville
Sambasô, Divine Dance is a riveting “ritual dance … performed by three generations of the Nomura family of actors who glorify and revolutionize the “kyôgen” tradition.” Stage design by the renown photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. The Théâtre de la Ville is closed for renovations, but its events are being staged around town, and this one is in the Espace Cardin.
This acting troupe was formed by Louis XIV in 1680. They perform in several venues, but the luxe Salle Richelieu theater in the Palais Royal complex provides regal seating to watch dramatic performances. Tune your ear to French while watching the dramas of The Mistress of the Inn by Carlo Goldoni, Lucrezia Borgia by Victor Hugo, or Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
Others Worth Investigating
Of course – organ concerts in magnificent churches!
And, for even more performing art events, take a look at these:
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