“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
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.
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.
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…
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.
Fondation Louis Vuitton Photo: Olivia Deng
Bernard Arnault opened the Fondation Louis Vuitton in 2014 Photo: Olivia Deng
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.
Magical light Photo: Olivia Deng
Ceiling Photo: Olivia Deng
Vertigo Photo: Olivia Deng
The Shchukin Collection
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 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.
Portrait of Dr. Felix Rey by Van Gogh Photo: Olivia Deng
Portrait of Soler by Picasso Photo: Olivia Deng
Man Smoking a Pipe by Cézanne Photo: Olivia Deng
Portrait of a Man with a Newspaper by Derain Photo: Olivia Deng
Anonymous by a Chinese artist Photo: Olivia Deng
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.”
La Seine Photo: Olivia Deng
Family of Acrobats by Picasso Photo: Olivia Deng
Market Place by Frank Brangwyn Photo: Olivia Deng
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. “
Monet’s wife in the garden Photo: Olivia Deng
Cliffs of Etretat Photo: Olivia Deng
Photo: Olivia Deng
Houses of Parliament Photo: Olivia Deng
Lilacs in the Sun Photo: Olivia Deng
Luncheon on the Grass Photo: Olivia Deng
“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.”
Tahitian men on horses Photo: Olivia Deng
What, are you jealous? Photo: Olivia Deng
Man gathering Fruit Photo: Olivia Deng
The Tahitian Women Photo: Olivia Deng
The Tahitians Photo: Olivia Deng
Sunflowers Photo: Olivia Deng
“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. “
Photo: Olivia Deng
Woman under a Tree Photo: Olivia Deng
Degas Photo: Olivia Deng
Woman by Toulouse-LautrecPhoto: Olivia Deng
Spanish Woman of Majorca by Picasso Photo: Olivia Deng
Absinthe by Picasso Photo: Olivia Deng
Spanish Woman with Tambourine by Matisse Photo: Olivia Deng
Photo: Olivia Deng
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.
Harmony in Red Photo: Olivia Deng
The Pink Studio Photo: Olivia Deng
Flowers Photo: Olivia Deng
Nymph and Satyr Photo: Olivia Deng
The Matisse Gallery Photo: Olivia Deng
“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.
Three Women Photo: Olivia Deng
Women Photo: Olivia Deng
Friendship Photo: Olivia Deng
At almost sunset
P.S.: I highly recommend getting tickets online early; otherwise, you will wait in line for at least an hour. Bisous, Olivia.