Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-ParisNight

The view from the Théâtre de l"Odéon at dusk. Photo: Françoise Deberdt-Meunier

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Left Bank gallery crawl
> Open house at 50 galleries for Art Saint Germain des Prés. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Gold in galleries

ParisUpdate-CarreRiveGauche-Passage AH 0

“Passage” ((2017), by Aude Herlédan. At 1831 Art Gallery during Carré Rive Gauche.

> The Carré Rive Gauche, an association of Left Bank galleries, celebrates its 40th anniversary with an event called ExtrORdinaire, featuring gold in works of art. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Literary evening
> The Nuit de la Littérature in Belleville and Ménilmontant presents 20 foreign authors reading their work in French. Various venues, Paris, May 27.

 English-language theater festival
> Paris Fringe returns for its second year of English-language theater and comedy. Various venues, Paris, May 18-28.

Hollywood glam
> Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich and more in classic films from Hollywood's Golden Age for the Glamour cycle. Forum des Images, Paris, May 3-31.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Etienne Comar’s Django, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, May 26.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.

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Art - Museums

 

Musée de l’Orangerie

Sistine Chapel of

Impressionism Reopens

Monet's water lilies have been brought back into the light. Photo: © Didier Plowy MCC
Monet's water lilies have been brought back into the light. Photo: © Didier Plowy MCC

Monet water-lily lovers will be thrilled to hear that the Musée de l’Orangerie has finally reopened today after six years of renovation work that cost the state €30 million. They will be even more thrilled to see that the panoramic series of paintings Monet donated to this museum have been brought back into the light of day, as he had intended them to be.

The facade of the rectangular building known as the “Sistine Chapel of Impressionism,” located on the Seine side of the Tuileries Garden (and the near-twin of the Jeu de Paume on the north side), has been left intact, but the museum now has a new interior.

At first glance, the result looks depressingly familiar: The entrance hall, while filled with light from floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass roof, is all blocks of gray concrete. Step into the next room, however, and you find yourself in a smallish, unadorned oval-shaped white room with a small oval skylight. Its peaceful atmosphere changes the mood entirely and prepares you for the spectacular effect of the transition to the next room, a much larger oval-shaped space with its own oval skylight, letting in gently filtered light. Visitors can sit on the (also oval-shaped) bench in the center of the room and contemplate four of Monet’s aquatic masterpieces with nothing else to distract their attention. The next room, with four more monumental Monet paintings, is a slightly larger copy of the first.

Since the 1960s, these rooms, which had been built to Monet’s specifications, had been buried under a concrete ceiling added by a misguided architect. Olivier Brochet, the architect responsible for the current renovation, has restored their beautiful, light-bathed setting. The only problem is that the formerly little-visited Orangerie is now sure to attract crowds, making quiet contemplation of the famous water lilies much more difficult than it used to be.

The various renovations the building has undergone since it was built in the 19th century can be seen in four models on the mezzanine as you descend to the lower floor, where, in another surprising juxtaposition, paintings in ornate gilded frames are hung on the polished gray concrete wall of a long corridor. The Jean Walter/Paul Guillaume collection is presented in a series of smaller rooms, with an impressive array of works by Renoir, Rousseau, Cézanne, Monet, Sisley, Derain, Modigliani, Laurencin, Utrillo and Soutine.

Part of a wall dating from 1566, built during the reign of Charles IX, can also be seen in the basement. These archaeological vestiges were uncovered during the construction work, although some critics say their existence was no secret to those familiar with historical maps of the area. Their discovery seriously delayed the museum’s reopening, which had originally been planned for 2001.

The Musée de l’Orangerie also holds temporary exhibitions.

Heidi Ellison

Musée de l’Orangerie: Jardin des Tuileries, 75001 Paris. Métro: Concorde. Tel.: 01 44 77 80 07. Open Wednesday-Monday, 9am-6pm. Admission: €7.50. www.musee-orangerie.fr

© 2006 Paris Update

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