Love and Passion @ Rodin Musuem

“I am beautiful, O mortals! Like a dream carved in stone,
And my breast where each one in turn has bruised himself
Is made to inspire in the poet a love
As eternal and silent as matter.” 

– Charles Baudelaire


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This delightful gem of a museum felt like a quiet oasis where I could get away from the usual crowds in Paris. I loved wandering in the gardens and discovering statues around each turn. The installation at Rodin Museum is the largest collection focusing on the work of French sculpture Auguste Rodin, as this year marks the hundredth anniversary of his death. Participating museums include the Met and another Philadelphia institution, the Barnes Foundation, among others.

There is a reason why so many museums are working to commemorate Rodin. He’s an unparalleled figure and one of few sculptors whose works are readily recognizable. Rodin’s work is known for its realistic modeling of the human form. He captured truth, depth, and the fluid motion of life in the most unlikely of mediums.

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The exhibition brings out Rodin’s love for “exploring what it means to be human. The figures in the gallery are posed and intertwined:  some spiraling, others flailing and still more arching outward. They show a multiplicity of emotions, such as shame, guilt, adoration, lust, fear and caring, that are possible only through Rodin’s obsession with the human form. The museum’s central gallery has been completely reconfigured with embracing and struggling lovers in marble, plaster, and bronze. The stark nudity, made all the more compelling by the anonymous, suggests unfettered ardor of the female.

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In 1912, Rodin said, “People have often accused me of having made erotic sculptures. I have never made any erotic works. I have never made a sculpture for the sake of the erotic element. Most of the people cannot conceive this because they are unable to conceive what sculpture is because they are forever looking in sculpture for literary and philosophical ideas. Sculpture is the art of forms.” The whole collection tells a hot-blooded story of lust and power and even tenderness. That Rodin was in love with passionate energy becomes abundantly clear. Rodin is sharing with us a catalog of passion. It’s a theme he comes back to again and again and again…


Shchukin Collection @ Fondation Louis Vuitton

Today was simply fabulous! First of all, I exchanged my A.P.C. wool backpack (aka my camera bag) for a brand-new one without a receipt! (who says Parisians are not nice?) and then spent the rest of my day at Fondation Louis Vuitton and took an enormous amount of photographs (Please click on images for a clearer view and captions).

Fondation Louis Vuitton is located in the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the 16eme arrondissement. Between now and February 20 2017, it showcases a large-scale private art collection of Sergei Shchukin (similar to Getty Museum in Los Angeles), which was made possible by the personal wealth of Bernard Arnault, Chief Executive Officer of LVMH.

The Building

The grandeur of this magnificent building just takes your breath away. The outlook of the foundation is supposed to be silver, designed by Frank Gehry, but was added colored mesh panels recently by Daniel Buren, creating a kaleidoscopic effect that changes throughout the day. The building shares similarities with Disney Concert Hall and Guggenheim as Gehry has been known for his mastery of combining contemporary art and architectural design.


The Shchukin Collection

The Crowd Photo: Olivia Deng

There are 11 galleries which display the biggest private art collection I have ever seen. They are divided into 14 sections — portraits, landscapes, impressionism, fauvism, cubism, etc. Here are some of the categories that I have found particularly intriguing.

The Painters

The series of self-portraits and portraits by some of Shchukin’s  favorite painters, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Detrain is shown at the very beginning of the exhibition.


Decorative & Narrative Paintings

“These are some symbolist, romantic, and impressionist paintings of his collection — a mixture of genre scenes and allegories. They are quite conventional, emphasizing the decorative and narrative functions of paintings.”


Landscapes & Impressions (Claude Monet)

“Shchukin was particularly fond of landscape, which is distinctively shown in his galleries where the paintings unfolded a common horizon from one salon to another. Contemplating the Shchukin collection through these landscapes, we may better understand both the collector’s deep sensibility and the often romantic and melancholy cast of his choices. “


“The Great Iconostasis” (Paul Gauguin)

“This part of the collection reveal Shchukin’s attraction to primitivist, Orientalist, and African forms of artistic expression, qualities he also sought in the art of Rousseau, Matisse, and Picasso.”



“Portraits of women constitute the second biggest set of paintings in the Shchukin collection after landscapes. The women seem a little mentally absent, abandoning the physical envelope in which they supposed to be embodied. They abstract themselves and by indifference deny both their role as women in reality and their function in painting as idealizations of femininity. “


Henri Matisse 

His paintings flourish in a plant-like splendor, revolutionizing the definition of applied art.  I remember doing an imitation of Matisse’s when I was little and it was so much fun! Because unlike other masters in the art world, instead of precision and “exactitude”, Matisse’s fauvist pieces are known for their vivid colors and abstract nature.


Pablo Picasso

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso. My art teacher once told me that many artists may develop great skills over the years but it becomes increasingly difficult for them to maintain the innocence and creativity of their works. However, Picasso was not only known as a bonafide genius for the immaculate accuracy in the early period portraits, but more importantly for his dominant influence on cubist and abstract art.


At almost sunset

On the Terrance Photo: Olivia Deng

P.S.: I highly recommend getting tickets online early; otherwise, you will wait in line for at least an hour. Bisous, Olivia.

(Quoted texts belong to LVMH.)

René Magritte @ Pompidou

Living in Le Marais, I am fortunate enough to place Pompidou as a stable on my hang-out list. It is one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world, housing approximately 50,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings and photography by Picasso, Klein, Warhol and Pollock among many others. From September 21st to January 23rd, there is the “Magritte. La Trahison des Images” (The Treachery of Images) exhibition showcasing numerous pieces by the Belgium surrealist artist.

La Trahison des Images (The Treachery of Images), 1928-29


This is one of the most well-known paintings by Magritte. People initially did not understand it as the caption seemed to contradict the painting. However, further studies suggested that “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe) simply means that the painting itself is not pipe. This mirrors the remark made by Polish-American philosopher Alfred Korzybski, “The map is not the territory”, which means that “an abstraction derived from something, or a reaction to it, is not the thing itself.”

La Décalcomanie, 1966


Magritte painted a series of images of men with bowler hats and/or silhouettes of them with a nature scene painted within. I enjoyed this painting in particular because being a surrealist painting, all the elements are actually present in reality. Yet it is highly imaginative, presenting countless plausible interpretations. I didn’t really grasp the message of the painting but it did teach me one thing: Think outside the box.

La Main Heureuse (The Happy Hand), 1957


I learned to play the piano when I was younger and at different points of my life, it gave me great pleasure. So it was interesting to see how Magritte associated the piano with the engagement ring in a painting called The Happy Hand. I guess with music and love, anyone would be happy, wouldn’t they?

La Magie Noire (Black Magic), 1945

Magritte went through a “Renoir” phase and painted abundance images of women. The model for this series was the artist’s wife, Georgette Berger. In this beautiful piece, the upper torso gradually blends with the tone of the blue sky while the other half stays grounded with her hands resting on the rock – half celestial and half earthly.

Le Viol (Rape), 1945


When Magritte was a teenager, his mother died from drowning. When the body was discovered, her face was covered with her dress and her body was exposed. That image was deeply imprinted in the mind of a young Magritte which is reflected in many of his works. For example, in this painting, the woman’s facial features are replaced by the torso, suggesting the way how his mother died. Additionally, it indicates the way males see women, and how the female image tends to be highly sexualized and objectified.

Les Grands Rendez-vous (High-level Meetings), 1947


This facial image of the Persian queen, Shéhérazade, a legendary queen and the storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights, is repeated in several other paintings. In this painting, the face of the enchanting queen is paired with a mysterious cave and symbols regularly seen in his works, bird, wine glass, key, and pipe.

La Folie des Grandeurs (Delusions of Grandeur), 1967


This is a bronze sculpture with golden brown patina, composed of three hollow parts of a woman’s body stacked into each other like a set of Russian dolls. Magritte created a number of three-dimensional pieces in his days, almost all inspired by his own paintings.