Paris kicks into high gear in the fall. On the heels of fashion week comes a slew of blockbuster must-see's, except the only shade of grey people are talking about here is the one seen in the sky while waiting in line for the exhibit du jour. I've managed to take a few in, but there are many more still on the list. Here are some of the highlights.
Musée d'Orsay is probably my favorite museum in Paris. Their collection of impressionists paintings is the best in the world, and has recently been redone so it now has its own floor to allow the masses to flow through with a bit more ease.
No visit to Paris is complete without a visit here, but when I heard word of a new controversial exhibit being displayed called Masculin, I hustled over tout de suite. As the name suggests, it's an entire collection of paintings focusing on men, but not just any men - nude men.
To me, it seems controversial that there has never been a display like this in the past, but evidently people only like to paint women...and fruit. Of course no pictures are allowed inside (except for the illicit one below), but perhaps just as well.
They found every painting of a man, in every part of the world, from every era they could get their hands on, so it's a bit of a mish mash, but starts shyly with men nearly exposed save for oddly placed foliage, fruit and ribbons. It didn't take long to move past the modesty to the exultation of man as warrior, hero, religious figure, shot putter, eager apple eater. Think swords, battles, biceps and abs.
I have to say, I found nearly 90% of the men in paintings to be Muscle Beach ready, or maybe even Playgirl possible. I wondered where the male equivalent of the voluptuous female painted through the ages was. Not here. Equally entertaining was watching the well dresses, distinguished French men wander through.
Musee de l'Orangerie
A close runner up to favorite museum is the more petit Orangerie. It's a quiet space to have a nice sit in front of Monet's massive Les Nymphéas , water lilies, displayed in the round (or rather oval) over 2 serene rooms.
Then there's some lovely "leftover" impressionist paintings from Picasso, Renoir and Cézanne that they threw in the basement in case you wanted to swing through.
The big news at the Orangerie was a special exhibit combining the power couple Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
It's one of the first times such a coupling has occurred with the two who painted, loved, cheated and faced alternating demons together. It was a very comprehensive account of their lives and art. It was also the first time I've seen an exhibit in French, English and Spanish with good explanations throughout.
They reopened with a bang in September to welcome famed couturier Azzedine Alaïa. Alaïa's prior work as a sculpture can be seen within the curves of his designs, but I'm hoping those that have worn his dresses were able to breathe, and eat on occasion. Judging by some of the shape clinging outfits, I'm unsure.
Beautiful fabrics and textures were designed to show off the female body. Alaïa claims to be looking out for his ladies and created many of the looks to ensure the derriere always looked très bon. Many a notable has shimmied into his creations like Greta Garbo, Naomi Campbell and Tina Turner. The only thing I thought was missing was some video seeing one of these ladies move his works of art around.
Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain
I hadn't been to the Cartier Foundation before, but someone told me about a unique exhibit on display there, so I paid them a visit. Unique doesn't do it justice. I'd say it was jaw dropping.
Ron Mueck is an Australian artist based in London who very rarely exhibits in Europe. One reason is that his creations take quite a while to create. What could take so long? Well, try making a lifelike person 10 times the size of you or 1/10th your size...with a paint brush, among other small tools.
When I say lifelike, I mean almost downright creepy that the skin color, texture, folds, hair, nails, clothes all seem extremely real, but then there's the scale. An older couple lies on the beach under an umbrella that fills one entire room. Mueck catches moments, looks, relationships and allows you to study it and make what you will of it, and hopefully that won't also include nightmares of old men from the beach watching you while you sleep.
I was happy to see there was a movie showing how he created some of his work, but there was no dialogue or voice over so you don't know how long it took him to make this elaborate creations, but needless to say, the exhibit in Paris keeps being extended.
I was able to get into this normally off limits building during Blanche Nuit, Paris' all night art party.
The building was constructed in 1722 for the daughter of Louis XIV, but it was taken during the Revolution. In 1830 it became the home of the lower house of the French parliament. We got to see the room where the action (or perhaps more accurately inaction) takes place.
Some of its halls rival Versailles.
The library was a work of art, though I'd like to think some of the books are still used for reference vs photo opps.
While the Opera Garnier is always open to the public to tour on select days, I thought I'd close with a little (more) eye candy and opulence from Paris.