Sunday, June 04, 2006

Musee de l'Orangerie

What a gorgeous day it was! Last week, it was so cold I was considering taking out my wool coat that I just got back from the dry-cleaner's! So, here we are in t-shirts (at last!), with friends and their kids, and we approach the Musee de l'Orangerie, which just opened on May 17 after a four-year renovation. I picked the wrong day because there is a line that is about a mile long, winding down towards the Jardins des Tuileries. Who knew these free museum days (first Sunday of each month) would be this bad? John and I went to the the front of the line to see if we would get special priority with the stroller (brought along just for the occasion because usually we can bypass museum lines with it). Nope, they knew the game we were playing and said our daughter was too old. I should have just said that she's really tall for her age. Anyways, we lined up like everybody else for about two hours, but it didn't seem to take that long -- the weather was beautiful, the kids played together, I chased them, they got fed ice cream and McDonald's, and we were in good company.

The museum is housed in an amazing neo-classical building, first constructed in the mid-1900s. The interior has been modernized, the entire roof is now made of glass allowing much natural light to pass through, and even though it's a huge building, it feels like an intimate experience when you see Monet's grand waterlily paintings upstairs and the awesome Cezanne, Renoir, Picasso, Gauguin, and Matisse downstairs.

Soon after we entered, I got in trouble twice with the same docent in the waterlilies room. Maylin and one of her friends were just starting to run away from me when the man told me the children should be either in their strollers or hold hands with a parent. Then he caught one of our charges pushing the stroller around himself soon after I left it with John. The docent started to accuse me personally, so I started defending myself in French but realized it was useless and that the solution would be to check in the stroller so we'd all have our hands free to round up the very wound-up children.

The waterlilies are stunning -- huge canvases several feet long installed in two round rooms. Monet used a lot more dry-brush strokes than I would have expected. It's cool to see all the detail up so close. How different they looked in my calendar I hung up in my dorm room in college.

I enjoyed just about everything, but especially two Cezanne pieces. One still life (I'm usually bored by them) of a pear and two apples (or was it two pears and an apple?) in various hues of green mostly, and a tender, sweet portrait of his son (again, in various hues of green -- I like green). Those were just perfect to me.

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