Becoming an Art Lover in Paris

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to avoid becoming an art lover when you spend time in the museums of Paris. This trip has been a turning point for me – I can honestly say that I’ll be leaving with a sincere enthusiasm for exploring museums, enthusiasm that has replaced the vague dread I had when I arrived.

As I mentioned in my post about The Louvre, the key for me is to not feel that I must stand and consider each painting, read each plaque, or be sure to stroke my chin and murmur little ooos and ahhhs. It’s wonderful and freeing to walk through these museums and let the paintings and sculptures themselves draw you this way and that.

Pompadou 1

{The painting above, displayed in what turned out to be my favorite museum, the Pompidou Centre, is by a new-to-me painter, František Kupka. It’s one of my favorites.}

I can’t share everything that moved me or even that made me scratch my head in bewilderment, but I’d love to share some highlights with you. Let’s start with my second favorite museums (you can visit them both with one ticket): the Musee D’orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie.

And I’ll begin in an unlikely spot, the gift shop. 

Because when you walk into the gift shop at the Musee D’orsay and look to your right, this is what you see!

Orsay Clock
Orsay Clock 2

Okay, the art.

The Gleaners is one of my all-time favorite paintings – it was wonderful to see it in person.

Orsay Gleaners

As a food photographer, I was completely intrigued by how Paul Cézanne embraced (and captured!) the harsh light in this still life. (For my food blogging friends, FoodGawker would reject this as overexposed for sure! 🙂 )

Orsay Cezanne

What kind of marble is this dress made of? And how did the artist combine the different types of marble? And what about the shadows and vastly different textures? And…and…and…

Orsay 5
Orsay detail 3

I particularly enjoyed Vincent van Gogh’s paintings and, again, enjoyed taking in the details of paintings along with seeing them as complete works.

Orsay Van Gogh
Orsay 2
Orsay Detail 2

And I loved looking up close at this painting by Henri-Edmond Cross.

Orsay 1
Orsay detail

Keith and I spent some time with this sinewy stone fellow. Look at the veins beneath the skin on his hand.

Orsay 6
Orsay 7
Orsay detail 4

The Monet murals are the main event, but there are many beautiful and interesting paintings (like those by Amedeo Modigliani) at Musée de l’Orangerie; it’s a little gem of a museum that is well worth a visit.

And one detail.

Orangerie Monet Detail

I didn’t expect the modern art museum, Centre Pompidou, to be my favorite museum in Paris, but it was. There were paintings and sculptures, both beautiful and odd that I enjoyed, but it was all of the off-beat details of the museum that stole my heart and captivated my attention.

To move between the floors of the museum, you use stairs or escalators on the outside of the building. They’re also transparent. The two middle floors are a public library. The top floor offers spectacular city views and has a bar and restaurant with walls of glass. The museum is open until 10pm, 11pm on Thursdays – it felt different and exciting to explore it at night.

Pompidou 1
Pompidou View
Pompidou View 2

Outside the museum is a huge square with a jubilant spirit: street performers working magic or playing music, people lounging and reading books, others laughing and talking, kids playing.

Pompidou 2

On the night we were there, two people were in the square with buckets of soap and wands that they waved to create huge bubbles that kids were having great fun trying to pop.

Inside the museum, I enjoyed watching a teacher or mom with a few kids who were working on their own creations.

Pompidou teacher

I’ll admit that some of the paintings were creepy and other works left me scratching my head.

Pompidou Quirky
Pompidou huh

But there was also this, another by František Kupka and what is now my favorite work by Henri Matisse, The Violinist at the Window.

Pompidou 3
Pompidou Picasso

So now I consider myself an art lover – not in an academic sense, but in the sense of enjoyment and appreciation. And that alone makes me so glad we made this trip.






14 responses to “Becoming an Art Lover in Paris”

  1. ann Avatar

    Thank you so much for this post, thoroughly enjoyable.

    1. Marissa Avatar

      Thanks for your sweet comment, Ann.

  2. Mon Petit Four (@byMonPetitFour) Avatar
    Mon Petit Four (@byMonPetitFour)

    Love!! I felt the same way. While I always enjoyed art, I never truly enjoyed my experiences at museums. But after visiting the museums in Paris, I loved going! Love your picks…Orsay has always been a fave of mine too because of all the impressionist painters. <3

    1. Marissa Avatar

      I love impressionist painters too – as usual, we’re simpatico. 🙂

  3. Doris Day Avatar
    Doris Day

    I think the self portrait of Van Gogh looks like Keith. Great journey.

    1. Marissa Avatar

      You’re right, Doris! Though I think that Keith is more handsome. 🙂

  4. Faith (An Edible Mosaic) Avatar
    Faith (An Edible Mosaic)

    I’m the same way! I love meandering through a gallery with the freedom to wander wherever I’m drawn. These are some beauties that you included in this post…and that clock is truly magnificent!

    1. Marissa Avatar

      I love the clock – and it’s so fun to peer through it an see the city. Thanks, Faith! xoxo

  5. Dorothy Dunton Avatar
    Dorothy Dunton

    Hi Marissa! That flowing marble dress is breathtaking! Gary is a stone carver (not of this caliber certainly, but very good) and wood worker and it always amazes me what he can see in a piece of rock or wood (me, I cook and sew)! I imagine it is going to be hard to leave such an amazing place, but at the same time I know it is always nice to go back to your “nest”. 🙂

    1. Marissa Avatar

      Yes, definitely looking forward to going back to our nest. I’ve been dreaming the past couple of nights about sleeping in my own bed. 🙂 I’d love to see some of your husband’s work – maybe send me a pic or two by e-mail? What kinds of things to you sew?

      1. Dorothy Dunton Avatar
        Dorothy Dunton

        Hi Marissa! I’ve been sewing since I was about five, my Mom taught me. I’ve sewn everything from clothes to drapes and curtains, pillows, dolls, doll clothes. I also quilt, knit and do needlepoint, although not as much since with age came arthritis in my hands (as well as other places!). It’s something I’ve always enjoyed because it’s creative, like cooking! 🙂 I will have Gary photograph some of his “works”. A number of years back he had a solo exhibition of his stone carvings at the Kalamazoo Institute of Art.

        1. Marissa Avatar

          Wow, Dorothy! That’s very impressive – I don’t think of many carving stone these days – I’d love to see Gary’s work! And please send a photo or two of your sewing projects – I’d love to see them too. 🙂

  6. KevinIsCooking Avatar

    Never heard of the Centre Pompidou, but thanks for sharing, looks wonderful and quirky. My kinda place. 🙂

    1. Marissa Avatar

      Oh wow, Kevin! You’ll love it and it’s a stones throw from your favorite square!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *