Saturday morning was bright and beautiful and a terrific way to start the day was with a visit to the Orangerie, the lovely art museum adjacent to the more contemporary Jeu de Paume. where one can step into Monet's canvases.
Well, not literally. But you can step awfully close!
If Jeu de Palme (which we didn't have time to visit) sounds familiar it may be because during World War II, the Nazi's used it to store paintings looted from wealthy Jewish families and dealers, a story told most recently in the film "The Monuments Men."
After the war it housed many paintings which later went to Musee d'Orsay and today it is the home of paintings by Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne, Utrillo, Picasso and Modigliani.
I wanted to see the Monets. He had donated them to the government as a monument to the concluson of World War I and they were installed at the Orangerie at the suggestion of Georges Clemenceau. The canvas panels are enormous and take up two rooms in the museum with its curved walls and natural light giving a depth and dimension to his work that a flatter surface might lose.
Favorites of the painter, he kept them until his death in 1926, after which they were installed in the museum. One of the panels was damaged during World War II but immediately restored.
For Rick it was all about the Modiglianis, an artist we both enjoyed ever since seeing the film about his life with Andy Garcia one day when we were searching free movies on demand!
I love Modigliani, too. There is something about the flat simplicity that I really appreciate. As I look at some of the paintings, especially the long-necked women, I am often reminded of the work of contemporary artist Kelly Rae Roberts and wonder if she pulled a bit of inspiration from Modigliani's work.
I was especially thrilled to see many pieces by Maurice Utrillo, whose cold Montmartre landscapes speak to me.
Utrillo had a pretty bumpy life. He was the son of artist Suzanne Valadon, who also modeled and was a contemporary of Toulouse Lautrec, Degas and others of the period. Valadon encouraged her son to paint, partly to remedy his alcoholism, which appeared fairly early in his life.
He was periodically in mental institutions and experienced numerous detox periods during his life but painting did indeed help him to overcome the struggles of daily life.
Most of the paintings in the Orangerie were from his White Period.
Utrillo signed his name in different ways -- Maurice Utrillo...
Or on occasion, adding a "V" after his signature, for Valadon.
and sometimes just M. Utrillo, other times including a date. This variation can make it tricky for authentication!
As you might expect, Rick liked this one...
I loved the Rousseau.
And of course, the Renoirs...
...and more Monet!
But there was more art in store that day! Because after a luncheon reunion it was time for Sennelier. More on that next time!
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