I hate musea, say it ain’t so


Time for a museum. I do this for Aaron, I am not interested in art musea. Blimy, it is a hole in my culture.
I think musea are dead material. No fun, nothing to be seen, no life. Stuff out of the past without a shimmer in the present.
So for once I am a subdued wife, and follow my leader.


It takes a while before we reach the inside, after having stood in the serpentine at the front door. We go in, and security is more tight then on Chicago O’Hare airport. Metal detectors, bag controls… Can’t help but wondering why.
Is it because they want to keep the art inside safe, or is it mainly to keep people safe? Lets go for the second option.


We start the tour in a big hall. Glass roof, I feel small. Very small. This used to be a real life station, the end of the Paris-Orleans line. It also had a huge hotel built around, and the ball room of that hotel is still here.


The station days are visible in the huge clocks, still showing the correct time. For me, a station is CLOCKS!!! A whole station lives by the grace of clocks and time, the right time. You miss out if your time is off…


The building was designed by Victor Laloux, and he did a good job on it. It is not a depressing place. A lot of stations and art musea are!


The giant pointers and the roman numbers are in unison. I don’t hear a tic-toc though, we should be here at night, with all the buzz gone to hear it. (I’m not even sure it has a tic-toc!)


As I said in my entry, I do not like musea. But that was BEFORE the little dancer girl of Degas. If you want to read a whole blob about the possible ho’s and ha’s about Degas and why he liked ballet dancers – it was more about movement then anything else – you can read up here.


For me personally, the question why, who, what, and context of the w’s was totally irrelevant. I just saw this little girl, with her tutu, her tiny feet elegantly put down, nose slightly in the air…
It moved me beyond words. I stood there with tears in my eyes. I wanted to ruffle the tutu, but after my 2000 year old horse touching adventure in the British Museum, I just looked. The little dancer is behind glass… Which is the safest, as I am sure that many people would want to touch the fragile tutu.


The girl is in her own world, nose up, what is she looking at? A teacher, a mirror? Is it a pose?
Lots of questions that will never be answered. For me, Degas captured it all. He was criticised for this statue, let all the critics go to hell now… They have no clue.


I am a simple girl, have done no art studies, don’t know zippo about art, yet I know when something goes in and reaches me.
This plaster statue did it. It entered and stayed. Left a little elegant mark on my soul.


I kept circling around her glass cage… I know that in the night, when all the lights are dimmed, the public has gone home, and a lonely night guard is walking around on the fourth floor, the little girl escapes, and dances. Swirling, turning, her arms high above her head… at twelve she goes back to her spot. Becomes still again. Together with the small horses surrounding her. Her hands go behind her back again, her little pony tail with the beau straight down. If you would be there, you would hear some tingling music from a music box, just enough to guide her passes and her movements.


If you would be very silent and hide behind the door, you would see the painted ballerina’s from the painting jump off and do their Gisele routine…
All that to be turned back to silence when the huge clock in the main salle strikes twelve.
Let me just explain where my fascination for ballet comes from. When I was a little girl, I remember me being allowed to take some dance lessons. I LOVED AND ADORED IT… But sure enough, I could not do it for long as my mom had other plans. I have always adored ballet and opera buildings though, with their untold stories and all the buzz going on behind the scenes. I watched a children’s series about a little french girl wanting to go to the opera in Paris, to become a dancer, I was that little girl. I lived from week to week for the next episode, holding my breath that I would not do stupid things with no television as punishment… (Lots of magical thinking paths here, I will not say more)


Next to the dancer girl, Van Cogh. What I mainly know about him is that he was Dutch, and cut off his ear. The stereotypical thinking when you hear his name. I am amazed to see how colorful his work is. Love it…
The blues are so blue, the gras is green, the corn is yellow. Far more saturated in real then what I ever saw in books.
No wonder I could not be bothered about art. We learn about it, but it does not touch ground if you don’t see the real thing.


So that is why I discover the truth at the age of 51. I love paintings, while I always thought I did not, I discover it on this saturday in may in the musee d’Orsay in Paris. I will never in the world have enough money to buy a real Van Cogh, and I don’t want to waste my time by looking at fake and feeble reproductions. I only want to see the real thing back.


And since I am in reality a people photographer (that is how I would describe my self), I also look at the other people looking at the art. Photography is allowed inhere, as long as you don’t use flash. Thank you whoever said that, I LIKE it…
I can connect more by snapping people snapping the available paintings, drawings, and what more that there is to see here.


The view through the clock glass shows us Paris up to the Sacre Coeur, a hazy gray day, the only one we had without blue skies.


The next room shows us Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, with his pastel girls of pleasure. He was the underdog… Painted mostly hookers and their customers, paying for love with his subdued colored works. He respected them, and they respected him back, he made up for being dog ugly and handicapped by mastery with pastels). Henri and the girls made a very fruitful two way inspirational connection. (Gosh, I think I sound as posh as one of those nobody-understands-what-they-are-talking-about-art-critics).


The bridge in Monet’s garden is far more lively in Musee D’Orsay then on all the calendars and posters I have seen so far.
Soft blue’s and pinks, his impression on canvas looks like the real thing.


A guy in blue with an australian outback looking hat lingers before the water lilies… (It was too early for us to see lilies in Monet’s garden, you have to go in summer to see those)


A couple admiring a bust in very tender colours, I have no idea who made it. It does not really matter either. I can like it without knowing who made it… The couple seems to share my view. If you have to read every little tag next to the paintings to know who, what and where, you can only focus half on the shown works, way too distracting. I only want to see the work.


I have several people being photographed with a painting in the background, sjeesh… what is up with that? Aunt Martha in front of Toulouse Lautrec’s girls… Aunt Martha, the painting is behind you, look at it… The way to look at it is with your face TOWARDS it…


The gallery with some Dutch masters. A very dark brownish black work, with a baby in white, the only light spot in the painting.
The whole room filled with people, they are all doing something else then looking at the wall. Funny to see…


Another one I really like. It is a bit depressing when talking about colors, but it has a nice warm feel to it. The baby is well fed, a little todler stands close… I like the overall atmosphere of this canvas.


A closer look through the clock/window, clock view over Paris…


Before I enter the ballroom of the former hotel. I am a happy camper that the musee allows photography without flash.
Of course, in this room, a lady with a very fancy canon camera, looks like the canon Mark something, is happily flashing away.
I tell her that flash is not allowed (those are the people who screw up for everyone else), and she tells me that she does not know how to turn it off. Lady, go home, get yourself a point and shoot and learn how to switch off your flash.
She bugs me utterly…


A little simple pigeon got lost in the gallerie, it makes me smile. There comes the lady with the fancy canon-I’don’t know how to switch off the flash again- get out of my sight woman… Go outside if you don’t know how to handle your camera. She is still happily flashing up and down…


A very sweet looking feature of the main hall is that it has the wall of milk glass as we call it in Belgium. You can see silhouettes moving from one floor to another on it. A marvellous sight…


Aaron is standing on top of Paris… I stay off, I don’t want to stand on a glass floor. It makes me seasick, and I am afraid to fall through… If you want to keep me out of a room, give it a glass floor!


Another milk glass shot, love it… And then it is time to leave. We strolled around inhere for four hours, I am beat.
Both Aaron and me our feet hurt like hell…


Grey outside, the only color coming from a big poster, announcing an exhibition…


On the other side of the street, little man Napoleon watches us from his wall, a museum for the Legion cross of honour. (Correct me if I am wrong about the cross – it was founded by Napoleon and getting it is a very brave accomplishment)


We go in for a cup of coffee and an ice cream in the Rue de Lille. The street I grew up in when living in Belgium. Nice ice creams they have here. With the all known parasols. They are made of rice paper and you can close them down. A little trip down to memory lane.


That was my museum day… We had some others, one with china statues that made me shivver, so utterly tacky, even if they cost millions…
But that is another story! Thanks again if you read this far! You deserve a Legion cross of honor!

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5 thoughts on “I hate musea, say it ain’t so

  1. I never got the ‘taking of photo with the painting behind’ thing – really! LOL! So funny to see your photograph and caption :-)
    Loved this post!

  2. ahh, once I again I enjoy the sites and smells of Paris…thanks for the trip back down that lane Cat…I lvoe reading your blog, makes me laugh, makes me cry too. I just love the way you phrase your life…thanks for another great Journey!

  3. I would NEVER stand on a glass floor….
    love the pics, and the tutu girl… she looks so unaffected…
    I want some ice cream!!!!

  4. I was thinking last night that the workshop you took sure has made an impact on your photography…these shots are super!

  5. Love your fantasy of the ballet dancers. :) That little gal is one of my favorite pieces! She was here in the Norton Simon museum…or else there is more than one, I don’t know. But she is utterly precious. And her tutu…yes, touched by many, I’m sure. Van Gogh is one of my favs…I know it’s “common” to like Van Gogh, but I just love his colors. Reminds me of Lightroom! You have a couple possiblities there for the current Dgrin Challenge (Translucent or Silhouette). Definitely have translucent! Enjoyed immensely….keep traveling, so I can go with you. :)

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