Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Paris trip - part two

Okay, where was I? It was Friday and we were just finishing up our visit to the Louvre. After lunch, we went to Musee d'Orsay. It's not nearly as large as the Louvre, but it has a wonderful collection of impressionist paintings. My wonderful high school French teacher taught us a lot about the impressionists, so I tend to gravitate toward them in museums. The collection here is terrific - Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Seurat, Van Gogh, and lots more. I loved this museum.

Here's a lovely Monet.

And a Van Gogh - Starry Night Over the Rhone - not the hugely famous starry night painting, but I love this one, too.

Musee d'Orsay was originally a train station, and it shows in the shape and scale of the main part of the building. This enormous clock hangs at one end. I have no idea how big this is, but it's got to be at least ten feet across!

Saturday started with a visit to the Notre Dame Cathdral. It was a drizzly morning, and the crowds were not bad at all. The line looks long, but it moves quickly, since there is no charge to visit the main part of the church.

Here is one of the famous rose windows. I played around with shutter speeds a bit, and found that most of the windows photographed well with a speed of 1/10 to 1/25. This was on a very overcast day - I'm sure it would be different if it were very sunny outside.

We walked around to the back of the cathedral to get a view of the flying buttresses.

I had to snap a closer shot of the spires of the cathedral.

Next was a trip to the nearby Pompidou Centre, home to the modern art museum. I remember hearing all about this place in high school, as it was very new at the time. Its most striking feature is the fact that the mechanicals of the building, such as the elevators, escalators, heating ducts, and so forth, are on the outside. The outside of the building turned out to be more interesting than most of the contents, unfortunately.

I have to admit that a lot of modern art leaves me a little cold. Some of it looks like a pack of school kids were let loose with fingerpaints. And some just seems like a great big scam. There were three huge all-white canvases in the museum. There was a breathless bunch of blather on the accompanying placard, saying that the artist was of the minimalist school, choosing a very limited color palette, sometimes limited to white only, for his work. Excuse me? That's just a bunch of baloney if you ask me.

This piece was just bizarre at first. It's an airplane made of branches, like you'd use to make a basket. And it's completely covered in scissors, knives, corkscrews, and things like that. But reading its placard reveals something interesting - all of the objects - over 10,000 of them - were confiscated by airport security in Sao Paulo. This was one of the most fascinating things we saw in the museum.

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