The MoMa in Paris

Until the beginning of March, the Louis Vitton Foundation (Bois de Boulogne) has opened its doors to two hundred masterpieces from American Museum of Modern Art (MoMa). I was very lucky to visit the exhibition and (re)discover so many brilliant artists. This article is just a random guy talking about art he liked.

Constructing / Deconstructing art

What I love about modern artists is that they tend to interact with the audience. Two artists in particular have made me question the notion of changing art in this exhibition. Felix Gonzales-Torres created sculptures made of sweets, asking the public to help themselves with one. With only 85 unique structures offered to the MoMa (the artist died in 1996), there will be a point when its oeuvre, Untitled (USA Today) will cease to exist. If I remember well, it was metaphorical for his illness which would kill him eventually. With that piece, visitors were part of the deconstruction of art.

Another artist who interacted with the public was Slovakian Roman Ondák who, contrarily to Gonzales-Torres, used the people to construct his piece. Measuring the Universe consists of measuring the visitors and writing their first names and the dates they came.

I participated in the second one, as I was happy to be part of a Modern work, but I didn’t take a sweet, as I felt guilty (ridiculously).

 

Photography

As you might have seen on my blog, I love the art of photography, and it is the only visual art I have tried. The exhibition offered a look at different artists, and proposed as well anonymous works. The aim was to show the evolution of the art, from daguerreotypes to digital photos, and explore its different uses. I cannot unfortunately talk about all of the artists, but I can present three I liked : Walker Evans, Man Ray and Jeff Wall.

Walker Evans is famous for his photojournalism during the Great Depression. His work was first presented in the MoMa in 1938, before the Department of Photography was created.

I knew the name “Man Ray” but could not associate it with any work. And then, I recognized one : Anatomies, because it was used for the cover of a Cigarette after Sex album. I do love black and white photos, especially when they tend to be abstract. I can only advise to search for Stieglitz’s art if you like them too.

Finally, Jeff Wall. After “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue was definitely the work I prefered in the entire museum. Created in 1999-2000, it depicts a scene from Ellison’s novel, in which the narrator steals electricity to light his thousand bulbs. It is a huge photo on a light box, which catches the eye from far away. The picture is a representation of loneliness (we can all rely), but most importantly of the condition of black people in the America of the 1950s.

 

I could carry on for hours on the dozens of artists I have liked in the museum (Picasso, Frida Khalo, Hopper, Signac, and so many more).

A part of the exhibition was dedicated to the history of the MoMa, with a collection of books, pamphlets, photos and videos about the evolution of the museum. I very much liked to learn more about the people who created it and those who contributed to its expansion. Thanks to them, we have the chance to admire the best works ever made since the 1880s, and although I talked a lot about famous people, I was lucky to get to know contemporary artists I didn’t know.

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Art & Literature in Paris (or, Three good reasons to read this article)

No need for me to tell you that Paris is an amazing city if, like me, you love art, architecture and literature.

I only spent a weekend there recently and I thought I should talk about some discoveries that I made, as well as publish some pictures (I lost my memory card so I used my phone, low quality..).

Literature:
If you love English books, Shakespeare and Co is the perfect place to find them. The bookshop has a great collection of classics, including stories and poems from the Beat Generation (which I love), contemporary literature and non-fiction books. The staff is welcoming and very helpful.

You might even find yourself there at a time when someone is playing the piano. Surrounded by all those books, and knowing a little bit about the history of the bookshop, I felt like I had gone back in time to the beginning of the 20th century.

Art:
There are so many museums in Paris that if you are there for a weekend only, you will have troubles choosing the right one to visit. I hesitated between the Louvre (I’m French and have never visited it) and the Musée Pompidou. Because it was its 40th anniversary, I decided to visit Pompidou.

If you have never seen the architecture of the building, it is worth having a look! It is very modern (considering its age), and whether you like the style or not, the museum is very impressive among the Parisian buildings.

I loved the exhibition on Russian artists, especially the work of Vladimir Yankilevsky (click here for his website). Among other works, we were able to discover his “Anatomy of feelings” collection. It is definitely an exhibition that I would advise anyone to see.

There were so many artists that I liked, some I have written down the name but haven’t had time to look closely at their work, that it would be hard for me to tell you about them all. I can only advise to go and check them for yourselves.

Photography:
Like I have said before, I did not use my camera but my phone. The pictures aren’t perfect but they can give you an idea of what I saw (especially the view from the top of the Pompidou museum).