Friday, November 2, 2007

Musee D'Orsay

It had been a long while since I lasted visited this museum, but I immediately remember why I consider it one of my favorites. I love the interior layout of the place- the rooms gliding into one another on various levels and the center sculpture court. The museum doesn’t have any ‘blockbuster’ show right now and so mid-day on a Wednesday I breezed right in.

I made my way first to the drawings of Odilon Redon, an artist I always liked but never focused much attention on. It’s a small show of about 30-40 works, tucked into a back gallery in the museum, so for the first 5 minutes I was literally alone in the space, an experience I don’t recall ever having at a major museum. Redon is a curious artist, totally steeped in Romantic, surrealist, dreamy, nightmare world, much like Edgar Allen Poe, for whom he did a few book covers. Some of these images from the 1870s were as bizarre and out there as anything today. I kept thinking about that weird 1980s English film “Time Bandits,” which forever gives me the creeps for some reason, but in a good way.

Next, onto viewing some of the collection, particularly the Manet’s which I recall from my semester abroad here as being excellent. No let down there. Manet is absolutely amazing. To look at “Olympia,”, granted one of the most reproduced images, still inspires something. I mean she is sexy and totally arousing, even today when you open any fashion magazine and see any number of nude bodies. An article in the New York Times Magazine recently deemed her to be the first contemporary fashion model. There she is, looking out at us, totally nude save for the subtle highlights of the necklace or her shoes, objects we focus on and which become fetishistic for the viewer, a perfect vision for current fashion advertising.

Finally, the museum’s attempt to throw in contemporary art in a project titled “Correspondences,” is a good effort, but not all that exciting. A contemporary artist is invited to select a work in the collection that they relate to/are inspired by, etc. Janis Kounellis selected a painting by Millet, i.e Arte Povera meets somber realism. On the other side is Odile Redon and Emmanuelle Saulnier, a French artist whose sculpture of stones atop water glasses is nice and moody and makes for a nice installation, but not really much else.

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