TRAVELLING TO PARIS – DAY 1

Over the Christmas break our family elected to spend it in Paris. Our first decision was an easy one, spend time in the airport during the holidays or drive to Paris. We quickly settled on the drive (with a few reservations as it is much longer than our Brugee journey) via the Eurotunnel.

Again, it was surprisingly easy. Approximately 6 hours door to door with roughly 1 hour waiting on the train (to board). The tunnel itself is an engineering wonder and sitting inside the train with a couple hundred other cars is surprisingly relaxing. Correction, relaxing once I had asked the people in front of us to roll up their windows as I was growing weary of listening to High School Musical 3 blaring from their DVD player.

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Driving into Paris around 4 p.m. (We are not into the whole ‘get on the road early’ thing), we headed directly to our first tourist destination: The Pompidou Center:

Centre Georges Pompidou (constructed 1971–1977 and known as the Pompidou Centre in English) is a complex in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles and the Marais. It was designed in the style of high-tech architecture.

It houses the Bibliothèque publique d’information, a vast public library, the Musée National d’Art Moderne, and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research. Because of its location, the Centre is known locally as Beaubourg. It is named after Georges Pompidou, who was President of France from 1969 to 1974, and was officially opened on 31 January 1977 by the then-French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

An interesting building, designed with the ‘guts’ of the building on the outside.

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The center is dedicated to a French President who loved the arts, with a library and a few museums. We went straight to the top to catch the sunset from the restaurant Georges. It was a spectacular view of the city which you enjoy from here via their live webcams or here for a 360 degree view..

The view needed to be great, because the food was average, expensive and the service was VERY poor. It was very clear to me that they picked their staff based on their looks and whether or not they would complement the ‘modern art, trendy location’ ambiance versus aptitude (they would rival the British for bad service). But like I said, we were there for the view:

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Frustrated, but still enthusiastic, we headed down to the very cool Junior Pompidou interactive gallery, filled with interactive light and music displays. The boys particularly enjoyed posing for the light wall.

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It was then off for a quick tour of the modern art museum, which has digitized much of the collection here. Of course, this is where the pragmatic small town boy in me comes out. I see art in many of the pieces, but am really challenged by others.

For example, I get this piece of art: This is a protest piece. This is an artist who has something to say and is expressing his point of view. Of course, this is why it is not surprise to me that during the same year that he made this piece, he was also busy signing manifestos with his fellow art buddies:

October 27
Signs a manifesto with Klein, Raysse, Hains, Tinguely Spoerri and Villeglé, thus founding the “Nouveau Realisme” with the Critic/Art Historian Pierre Restany. New Realism= new perceptive approaches of reality.

This fellow is deep. Apologies for the picture, no filters on hand. Click the link above for one without reflections.

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Now, here is where I struggle. To me, this piece, in British terms, is ‘taking the piss’. I know, the art elite are in shock. How can I not see it? Have I no vision?

To me, this artist is laughing all the way to the bank. Seriously, am I the only one? And to make it even funnier, it is a prominent location near the entrance.

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The title of this magnificent piece? Dark Blue Panel by Ellsworth Kelly. When commenting on his style:

William Rubin noted that “Kelly’s development had been resolutely inner-directed: neither a reaction to Abstract Expressionism nor the outcome of a dialogue with his contemporaries.”[7] Many of his paintings consist of a single (usually bright) color, with some canvases being of irregular shape, sometimes called “shaped canvases.” The quality of line seen in his paintings and in the form of his shaped canvases is very subtle, and implies perfection. This is demonstrated in his piece Block Island Study 1959.

I love reading art reviews. Said one art critic to the other over a glass of white wine ‘Magnificent. Look at the way he has taken this 12’ by 12’ canvas and only covered it in the darkest black, and only black. Minimalist mastery. It is like I am looking into the tortured soul of the artist. I must have this, it is a bargain at $6,000’.

To add to the humour of the situation, Ellsworth is an American artist. I wonder when the French will finally realize that this is simply an American getting the last laugh? And not just an American … A New Yorker …

So ends day one, with a laugh. Thanks Ellsworth.

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