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Friday, December 24, 2010

France 2010 - Day 5, Part 4 - Paris: St-Denis neighbourhood, Musée D'orsay

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." - Anais Nin

***

France 2010
Day 5 - 7th October - Paris: St-Denis neighbourhood, Musée D'orsay
(Part 4)

After Saint-Denis, I had been directed to buy some conserve, so I hunted down a shop called "Exotic Center", which sold stuff from the West Indies.

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"Commande de Gateaux Speciale
Bapteme, Communion, Mariage, Ceremonie

Gateaux : Meringue + Confiture
Bible"

("Ordering of special cakes
Baptism, Communion, Marriage, Ceremonies

Cakes: Meringue + Jam
Bible")

I asked the guy at the counter and he said the "Bible" cake was a cake in the shape of a Bible. Exotic indeed.

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More plastic fruit than I'd seen in Japan

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Hair products for all races

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"Solo Kola Champion Original" Soda licensed from Trinidad
This can be read as a post-colonial text. It didn't taste very nice, though, proving my adage - there is a reason local soft drinks stay local.

In the area, they sold a lot of hairpieces - testimony to how black women don't display their natural hair.

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The quality looked like shit, which was why it was so cheap

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"Le charme et l'insolence de la Chaussure Italienne"
("The charm and insolence of the Italian Shoe")

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Walking down Passage Haguette

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"Prochainement: Charlie & la Chocolaterie"
("Soon: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory")

This actually refers to the 1971 film with Gene Wilder, not the 2005 one with Johnny Depp. Confusingly, both have the same title in French.

The people in the métro are hardcore - as the doors were closing one woman ran up and thrust her arms in, and then the doors opened again.

In the métro, disabled war veterans are singled out from the normal disabled for preferential seats - in fact they get top priority (those above the age of 75 have the lowest priority of the high priority groups).

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"Psychologies" - from the cover stories, this seemed like a normal women's magazine sans the sex stories. Confusingly though, the website has stories on beauty and nutrition - and yes, sex.

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"Des costumes qui travaillent pour vous !"
("Suits which work for you!")
Cheap suits - 170€ for a set. And they're made of pure wool too (though that is a downside in the tropics)

I then went to the Musée d'Orsay since they were open until 9pm on Thursdays, so I could profit from this.

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Palais de la Légion d'Honneur

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Légion d'Honneur Musée


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Musée d'Orsay, in the former Gare d'Orsay Railway Station

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People and statues outside D'Orsay

Inside the museum, there were many prominent no photography signs placed throughout. Since I was tired and in pain (as usual), and most especially because everyone else was being guai (well-behaved; I only saw one woman taking a picture, and she was on the second floor near the entrance), I didn't try and take any photos. I have, though, managed to find online photos for all the art works that I had comments on (apparently the no photography rule is new - I can find many photos dated 2009, and even a few dated 2010 - possibly taken on the sly)!

While the Louvre contains art from before 1848, that wonderful year where everything went to shit, D'Orsay contains works from 1848 to 1915 - arguably Paris's golden age. As such, it contained mostly impressionist and post-impressionist art, which was why I hadn't considered visiting it in 2006.

However, I was pleasantly surprised as many works were quite nice, especially the sculpture which was mostly very creditable, since it was executed in a Neo-Classical style (some was quite exaggerated, though - I like realism, not hyper-realism). Of course most works had little or no English, but that was to be expected. The museum was also under renovation.


Alexandre Falguière - Tarcisius, martyr chrétien (Tarcisius, Christian Martyr)
He looks like an emo gay boy

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La Comédie Humaine dit aussi Le Masque - Christophe Ernest ("The Human Comedy" or "The Mask")
This was cute, and presumably a commentary on how humans act every day

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Eugène Delaplanche - Eve après le péché ("Eve after the fall")
See the apple on the ground


Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux - Femme nue couchée sur le côté droit ("Nude woman lying on her right side")
This was an example, together with its neighbours, of disgusting sculpture. It looked like someone took a dump.

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La France Impériale protégeant l'Agriculture et les Sciences - Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux ("Imperial France protecting Agriculture and the Sciences")
This was hilarious in its seriousness

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Redon, Odilon - La Coquille (The Seashell)
This looked like a pink hairless vagina. It was probably deliberate.

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Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer - Florence. Of course a woman would be interpreted by feminists as an item to be possessed and be conquered, but an alternative interpretation is that the feminine is seen as positive - something beautiful and desirable
This was quite a nice symbol of the city. The plaque said "Florence Vers 1898", and I thought "Around 1898" was in the title of the painting.

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - Seule ("Alone")
This is basically a woman masturbating. GAH.

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jeune fille assise, 1909 ("Young Girl Sitting")
She didn't look very young to me at the time. She does look like she has a breast implant gone wrong.

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Maurice de Vlaminck - Nature morte ("Still life")
This looked like a kid's crayon version of a proper still life

A display quoting a critic at the end of the 19th century: "Pastel 'lends itself easily to expressing delicate skin tones and artful smiles; it is not made to express the seriousness of middle age nor the rigidity of old age'. For, in fact, pastel is to the female portrait what makeup is to the woman herself: an embellishment or to quote Baudelaire, 'a sublime dissection of nature' (In Praise of Cosmetics, 1863)"

Incidentally that Baudelaire line is quoted in English as "a sublime deformation of Nature".

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Paul Cézanne, La Femme étranglée ("The strangled woman")
This was disturbing.

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Merle - Une mendiante
Thiswas quite haunting, and very effective in the Third Dimension (she's sticking her arm out at you)

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Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi - Vercingétorix. This was amusing. I couldn't tell if it was a Roman soldier under the horse.

I was surprised to see religious painting - I thought such had become unfashionable by that epoch.

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Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - La Vierge à l'hostie ("The Virgin with the Host")
Example of religious painting

They also had religious sculpture, like a few statuettes of John the Baptist (they were all okay).

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La Chasse aux lions - Eugène Delacroix ("The hunt for lions")
They could be manticores for all you know

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Daumier - Les célébrités du Juste Milieu - Jean-Marie Fruchard ("Celebrities of the Right Era")
Distortion actually worked quite well here, for caricature

"It comes as no surprise in this day and age that political cartoons can raise a ruckus, but this was also true during the turbulent climate of 19th-century France when satirist Honoré Daumier was delighting the new petite bourgeoisie with his clever political caricatures. Of course, they didn’t delight everyone; in 1831, his transformation of King Louis-Philippe into the all-consuming giant Gargantua was seized by police, and Daumier was tried and convicted for “fomenting disrespect and hatred against His Majesty’s government and of offense to the King.” After serving six months in prison, Daumier directed his political critique towards parliamentarians, producing a series of small grotesque busts including Jean-Marie Fruchard. Likely he was not making any friends with these gentleman either." - Art on Trial, Art Institvte Chicago

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Daumier - La République
2 boys breastfeeding?! Err.

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Hebert - La Malaria. I didn't see any mosquitoes, and none of them looked particularly sicker than the others (my judgment still stands).

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Deux paysannes italiennes et un enfant - Gerôme Jean Léon ("Two Italian Peasants and a child")
This was nice. The lines were very clean.


SAIN - Fouilles à Pompéi ("Excavations at Pompeii"). Same comments as for the previous one

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Dinet - Esclave d’amour et Lumière des yeux ("Slave of love and light of the eyes")
There was a medallion with arabic on it. Hurr hurr.

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Eugene Fromentin - Le pays de la soif ("The land of thirst")
This has to be in Africa. Racisme!

After many crappy paintings, Bouguereau was great.

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Les Oréades ("The Oreads" [mountain nymphs])
He painted this at 77. You can tell.

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Bouguereau - Dante et Virgile aux enfers ("Dante and Virgil in the Hells")
This is truly disturbing.

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Degas - Marguerite de Gas
She looks like a zombie

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Olympia (Manet)
Presumably this is Ebony-Ivory

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Edouard MANET - La blonde aux seins nus ("The blonde with nude breasts")
Tout le monde aime les tétins roses. Notamment les Japonais.

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Chapu - Jeanne d'Arc à Domrémy ("Joan of Arc at Domrémy")
This was nice

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Mil huit cent soixante et onze - Cabet ("1871")
I had no idea why this is called that. Looking online, neither did anyone else.

According to "L'art vivant: la peinture et la sculpture aux salons de 1868 à 1877":

"Mil huit cent soixante et onze! L'année de toutes les humiliations et de toutes les angoisses, de toutes les chutes et de tous les désespoirs! Comment symboliser plus justement cette année lugubre qu'en la personnifiant dans la Douleur? La belle statue de M. Cabet qui rappelle un peu par la pose la figure si connue de Bartolini au Campo Santo de Pise, V Inconsolabile, pourrait porter le même nom. Elle est, en effet, vraiment inconsolable, et elle doit, l'être, cette noble et grande femme, aux traits puissants et fiers, à la couronne de chêne, dans laquelle nous avons tons reconnu notre mère bien-aimée, la France autrefois si belle et souriante. Ah ! que l'adversité l'a effroyablement abbattue et vieillie! Sa couronne est froissée, sa chevelure en désordre. Enveloppée tout entière et comme cachée dans les plis épais de ses lourds vêtements de deuil"

In other words, it's a long-winded commentary on the humilitation of the Franco-Prussian War.

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Jean Beraud - La Madeleine Chez Le Pharisien ("Mary-Magdalen at the house of the Pharisee")
All but Jesus was in late 19th century clothing. I thought such anachronous portrayal had gone out of fashion in the Renaissance.

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Stevens, La Lettre de rupture ("The breakup letter")
Poor girl

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Stevens Alfred - Tous les bonheurs.Scène familiale ("All the joys. Family scene")
Har. The woman and baby are staring at us and the man has his back to us in his study with a bookshelf. So presumably all you need for happiness in life: letters, women and children.

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Auguste au tombeau d'Alexandre - Buland ("Augustus at the tomb of Alexander")

There was also a photography section - some photographers' studies of nature turned out to be awfully ugly and uninteresting photos.

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Gustave Courbet - L’Origine du monde ("Origin of the World")

"Cette œuvre d'une audace absolue n'a pas d'équivalent dans la peinture du XIXe siècle" ("This absolutely audacious work has no equivalent in the painting of the 19th century")

GAH GAH GAH


Barrias - Les Exilés de Tibère ("The exiles of Tiberius")

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Paul Dubois - Chanteur florentin du XVe siècle ("Florentine singer of the 15th century")
There's a sack for his package

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Paul Gauguin - Le cheval blanc ("The white horse")
Perhaps this is a piece in irony

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Lacombe - Isis
This was disgusting

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Hippolyte-Alfred Chauchard - Weigele
The mutton chops would make JBJ proud

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Rodin - Porte de l'Enfer ("Gate of Hell")
This plaster was huge


Ovide Yencesse - Serbia. This is hilarious: a woman with daggers plunged into her palms and thighs.
(In my notes from the information panels, this is "Serbia d'après Alexandre Steinlein". This appears to be a rare variant spelling of "Steinlein", which is what the D'Orsay website uses)


Ovide Yencesse - Belgica (according to the panels, d'après the same)
This one is almost as funny - a topless woman gagged and bound

An old lesbian couple (in their 50s or so) kissed in the museum. C'est ça, la France !

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Roussel - Vénus et l'Amour au bord de la mer ("Venus and Love beside the sea")
They translated "l'Amour" as Cupid. I don't think that's a good translation.

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Pompon - Ours Blanc ("Polar Bear")
This could've inspired the Golden Compass

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Fernand Khnopff - L'encens ("Incense")
My notes read: "L'encens. Cros l'histoire de l'eau brandon innewlole de rapport - wth".

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Rodin - L'Hiver ("Winter")
I was wondering why this was the first sculpture with sagging breasts that I remembered seeing. Then I remembered that it was an old woman.

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Jean DELVILLE - L'école de Platon ("School of Plato")
At first I was wondering why Jesus was surrounded by nude androgynous men
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Klinger - Cassandre
She is cool. She has red encrusted eyes.

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Barrias - La Nature se dévoilant à la Science ("Nature unveiling herself to Science")

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Ignacio Zuloaga - La naine Dona Mercedes
That is one ugly child

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Frédéric - L'Age d'or - Le Soir ("Age of Gold - The Night")
In this era (and probably in an anglophone country) this painting with naked preteens would be considered child porn

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Puech - L'aurore

The museum approvingly described physicist Meyer as "discreet". Err.

There was also a fine arts collection, but I was quite tired by then (it was 8+).

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Servant - Table de style néo-grec
This is faux-grec, not néo-grec

My kebab had cost me 4,5€ (+1€ for a canned drink), and I was still full at 8. I decided to have a look at the restaurant, more for information than to get anything to eat, as "The murals in restaurants are on par with the food in museums." (Peter De Vries)

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This sounds like good stuff, but the price is accordingly high (55,00€ for 3 courses, wine and coffee)

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Map of area


Yes I'm deprived - it changes when you press the button!

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Excellent dinner/supper - Flammkuchen with Emmentaler (of course there's onion and bacon too!), at "Taverne la Forge, spécialités au feu de bois". Wood fire flames rock.

At night, I also saw my first cat in my trip so far.
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