Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Montparnasse, the Grand Palais & Rodin

What a delight to start a crisp autumn Sunday with a slow wander through the incredible Montparnasse cemetery, where such luminaries as Guy de Maupassant, Alfred Dreyfus, Andre Citroen, Brancusi, Saint-Saens, and Baudelaire are buried. My goal was to see Brancusi’s “The Kiss” (a response to Rodin’s “Kiss”) but this is the nature of the larger Paris cemeteries: huge and labyrinthine, requiring a map. Which I had, but…well, an hour later, I was done with the cemetery. Since it’s practically across the street from my hotel, maybe I’ll try again tomorrow…

My ultimate goal was the new exhibit at Grand Palais, on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. On the way, I was seriously derailed by finding an art flea market, and spending some time talking with a number of the artists. Serendipity! What a pleasure, treat and delight to meet these artists and see their work, discuss their process.

For a peek at one of the artists, go to www.szal.fr. I made the ultimate error of picking out three of her pieces, having read the price wrong, and then having to tell a very excited artist that I couldn’t afford any of them! Sigh….I hate that.

Onward and forward. Metro over to Place Concorde, one of the most stunning places in Paris, if not France, if not the world. One of its arteries spins off into the Champs Elysee. Up I went with hordes of other tourists, in the direction of the Grand Palais, stopping first for a hot dog (I know, shameful) to bolster flagging energy levels.

Why did I imagine I would saunter into a major museum featuring a new exhibit on a Sunday?! I saw lines I’ve only seen once before—at the Louvre—and quickly abandoned Plan A. Heading in the opposite direction of the crowds, I crossed the Alexandrine bridge, an incredible beauty that makes you stop and watch the Seine underneath, and the occasional Bat-O-Mouche.

Crossing over to where the Assemblee Nationale stands, I found myself a cozy little café for some coffee, a bathroom and the development of a Plan B. As it turns out, I had wandered close to the Musee Rodin, one of my favorites in Paris, so that was my next stop.

The museum had its own little line, paltry by Grand Palais standards, but a line nevertheless. The bonus: an expo by Henry Moore, a British sculptor I first discovered in Lille, who does monumental work. One of his works, “Warrior with a Shield”, has an interesting history. As Moore describes it, “The idea for the warrior came to me…very early in 1953. It evolved from a pebble I found on the seashore in the summer of 1952, and which reminded me of the stump of a leg, amputated at the hip…”

Only an artist could write that!

After a couple of hours, my legs instituted Plan C, which meant sitting down a lot! A few sketches of the extraordinary sculptures in that museum, and I was ready to make my way back to the hotel.

And so, feet now up and contemplating a new work week about to start, I marvel again at the privilege I have, and the wonders I have seen. Yet the desire remains to do only what I see my Father doing. I’ve been on the look out, but no particular spiritual bonanzas have been apparent. Maybe tomorrow…

No comments:

Post a Comment