Monday, June 3, 2013
Markets, gardens, and a little art
Once into the museum, we found ourselves disappointed. There was some contemporary art that made me feel I was being bullshitted. Four poorly knitted sweaters on a wall in awkward colour work of small squares of orange, gold, red, and blue represented the seasons? A series of photographs taken from a window, all of which involved a wooden block placed on the window ledge, sometimes a square, sometimes a cylinder with a slanted top? The photographs weren't even particularly interesting, though the exhibit also included the awkwardly carved and painted blocks. The point of this is that we look for particular shapes in our urban landscape? That what we see is shaped by how it is framed? I'm not sure these ideas go beside Bonnard's lovely painting of the cherry pie. Which we couldn't see because the permanent collection was closed for renovation as is the whole of the Picasso Gallery--another hoped-for destination.
So we had to make up the day as we went along. My Paris book had told me about the Viaduc des Arts that had interesting shops underneath and a long Promenade Plantee on the train trestle that had once been above it, so we got out our Paris Metro map and found our way there. The walk is wonderful: the path is lined with roses, trees, shrubs, and plants of every kind. In about two weeks, the whole place will smell of roses: I have never seen rose bushes bloom so ecstatically. The view of the streets as we passed them was also charming. We caught the arrival of a wedding party, for example, or some nifty architecture. While Napoleon III decided to create some wide, straight boulevard in order to be able to move troops more quickly and prevent the throwing of up barricades, Paris is mostly an old city with meandering, crooked streets that the buildings must simply learn to live with. There is almost a short cut somewhere, if you look for it. But there are also several triangle tangles that you are going to hit in just the wrong way. So enjoy the experience.
On our way back, we looked into the shops. You can get your eighteenth-century paintings restored there, or bring your violin to the luthier. There are places where you can get very twisty turning green and orange lamp shades for your chrome lights, or find just the right sink for a new kitchen. There are also shops with supplies for artists and crafters--quilting cotton, knitting wool, cross-stitch samplers in every size and style.
Much of the Jardin Des Plants is fairly workmanlike: rectangular beds filled with herbs or vegetables or medicinal plants, but perhaps generations of gardeners have lavished their attentions on the Alpine Garden, which the birds have also discovered.
The next day we spent seven hours at the Pompidou, being simply blown away by both contemporary arts (sans bull shit) and art at the turn of the century. I'll tell you about that tomorrow.
at 2:11 PM