|Crépuscule à Venise, Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 1908|
Living in Paris, there are constant distractions in the art world. So many you don’t know which way to turn.
The other day, I took a visiting friend to see Monet’s Water Lilies at the Orangerie Museum, after having shown him the real thing at Monet’s country home in Giverny and then the Monet collection at the Marmottan Museum in Paris.
There’s also an Impressionist collection on the basement level of the Orangerie. I’ve seen it multiple times. Remarkable though it is, I wasn’t up to seeing it again, so I pointed him in the right direction and then went to the left to see a temporary exhibit called Tokyo-Paris.
Based on a title like that, I never would have gone to see it if left to my own devices, but seeing as I was already there... And I’m very glad I did because it’s an amazing exhibit of works collected by a rich Japanese industrialist named Shôjirô Ishibashi (1889-1976), otherwise known as the founder of the Japanese tire giant, Bridgestone. (You may have some of his tires on your car right now.)
|Marine, Mera - Aoki, oil, 1904|
Many late 19th century French artists adored Japanese art, and Monet was one of them. If you visit his home in Giverny, you’ll see his collection on the walls.
But at the start of the 20th century, as the Meiji period came to a close and Japan opened up to the rest of the world, Japanese artists started to take some of their inspiration from Western Impressionists. They called this artistic genr Yôga, which literally means “Western-style painting”.
The very first piece in this exhibit is by one of those artists, Shigeru Aoki (1882-1911). It’s simply entitled “Marine, Mera” (1904), Mera being a place in the south of Chiba Prefecture. This seascape is very reminiscent of other marines by other artists, and the rocky coastline could be somewhere in New England or along France’s north Brittany shores.
|Nymphéas, Monet, oil, 1907|
|Beach near Trouville, Boudin, oil, 1865|
|Saint-Mammès, Sisley, oil, 1884|
Having lived in Montmartre half my life, and now literally just around the corner from the only two remaining windmills, how could I not like van Gogh’s “Windmills and Gardens in Montmartre” (1886)? He lived here briefly, when there were many more windmills than now, and before the Butte (the hill) was tamed by builders. Its rocky soil can still be seen here, and I think that’s a gardener trying to eke some subsistence out of his veggie garden.
|Windmills & Gardens, van Gogh, oil, 1886|
So if you’re going through Paris, and even if the exhibit’s title doesn’t “grab” you, drop in on the Orangerie - basement level - and take in over 60 paintings - mostly oils - and a few statues, including Zadkine’s “Torso” (1951) and “Pénélope” (1909), a bronze by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle.
You won’t regret it.
|Pénélope, Bourdelle, bronze, 1909|
Tokyo - Paris
Musée de l’Orangerie
Place de la Concorde, Tuileries Gardens, 1er
April 5 - August 21, 2017
9-6 / Closed Tuesdays
12 € & 9 € (free under 26 years of age and the first Sunday of the month)
|Au Cirque, Toulouse-Lautrec, oil, 1887|