Wednesday 26

September 26, 2007

Mon dieu – this is all so exhilarating to be back on the streets of Paris, especially staying in St Andre des Artes. Our body clocks are completely out of whack and we’re exhausted, but somehow Alan and Merilyn and I manage to walk for at least 10 hours. It just starts as quick run around the corner to grab a pastry but………isn’t that St Sulpice/the Cluny/that bloke who walks about with a rabbit on his head…….and so it goes. Ande spent most of yesterday in bed horrendously jetlagged, – 24 hours and VERY little sleep but it is odd how an amble through the Tuilleries and some wonderful art to chase recuperates one…..

L’Orangerie, which has been closed since we first came here together in 1995 – finally reopened and what an intense experience. It REALLY was built just to house orange trees, but then for someone who built the Louvre as his town house, with the Tuilleries as back yard that’s probably not altogether surprising! Now housing the most extraordinary Monets– two huge “water” works in purpose designed oval shaped rooms, each in four panels. Massive amounts of overpainting, emanating from a focus of light in the centre.. Also, the beginnings of abstract expressionism as he layered the paint up and the gestures got bigger and bigger and BIGGER…..and less, of everything. It’s so easy to get blasé about his work as it’s so ubiquitous, but damn! this is good stuff.

Two glorious Modiglianis, one of Paul Gulliame, who’s collection is housed here and the other, an unnamed woman – a very small painting of her head and the beginnings of his elongation. She probably really had a very long neck and this sent Modi off on a tangent from which … never to return. These were done before his wonderful “mannered” works. A very powerful and graphically complex Picasso. Fantastic intelligence at work.

The surprise of the day was a room FULL of Soutine. We’ve never seen more than 2 of his works together before. En masse, they’re a revelation. He must have been one of the most expressive, the most “dangereuse” of all the expressionists. The same willingness to let go of conventional structure as Van Gogh.

A wonderful meal down by the Seine, made up from bits of wonderful cheeses and saucisson and tomatoes and incredible bread and wine that was ridiculously cheap, not at all up to muster but tasted fabulous by the river opposite the Musee D’Orsay.

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