The first Sunday of the month many of the museums and art galleries in Paris offer free entry. These are all the museums that come under the category of “national” museums. We make sure that we get to one of them.
This weekend we joined the throng of people in the queue for entry to the Musee National d’Art Moderne at the Pompidou Centre. After initially queuing in the wrong queue (duh!…) and getting to the front nice and early, we were sent away to the back of the correct queue – as were several other people near us. By good fortune as soon as the gallery officially opened at 11am the queue moved quickly and 20 mins later we were inside – and its well worth the wait. An unexpected bonus is that from the top level of the Pompidou Centre you get an amazing view of the whole city and perspective on the location of the famous monuments and buildings in relation to each other.
I am not well educated on the virtues of modern and contemporary art and find some of it hard to appreciate or understand. I confess that even after reading the explanations posted for several works I was none the wiser. However, there is plenty to admire here; the museum has a stunning collection of works by the significant artists of the various movements of modern art; Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, Brancusi and others. The whole issue of understanding and appreciating modern art (or not) is summed up for me in the commentaries I read about Picasso’s works. The material at the museum described his very last works as “having an energy and creative power undiminished by age”, and “the totemic figures whose sexual vigour and weighty charge of fierce parody give them immense presence.” That certainly describes them; they are bold, clever and impressive in a shocking way. Apparently at the time, the works were dismissed as “pornographic fantasies of an impotent old man, or the slapdash works of an artist past his prime” and only later still after he died the appreciation of these works as neo-expressionism was recognised and he was considered ahead of his time.
Probably most of all I loved the magic concoction of colour and shape in the Kandinsky paintings, and the Marc Chagall works. His (Chagall’s) look like crazy mixed up thoughts from a vivid dream; those two artists were the highlights for me, and I would certainly love to have a Kandinsky or Chagall hanging on the wall in my house – like that will ever be the day!
Above all I came away less of a pleb than before, and that’s a good thing.