Sunday, 24 February 2008

Modern Art in Paris

This weekend was a bit of an art weekend, on Saturday I went to the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, long name I know but I suppose they have to compete with the Pompidou Centre, which is the more famous modern art gallery in Paris, and which has a much cooler name. The advantage of the Musee d'Art Moderne is that it is free and there are hardly any people there, actually the thing I really loved was that there was no glass on the paintings, so you could get up real close and see where the artist had applied the paint thickly, you could also see the cracking of the paint in some pieces. It just made the paintings seem more vibrant without the glass to hide them behind. This piece to the left was one of my favourite pieces there.

Whilst the actual Musee d'Art Moderne was pretty cool and also free, I made the mistake of going to what I thought was the Musee, but was actually just an exhibition centre, across the road. I pay my 7 euros and then when I go in I find that it is an exhibition of woman's clothing from the years 1919-1939, not something I am particularly interested in, plus all the labels were exclusively French. The surprising thing was how many people there were in there, I guess in a city as big as Paris there are always hundreds of people interested in each very particular thing. I walked through that exhibition pretty quickly and then felt pretty disappointed by what I thought was the modern art gallery, until I crossed the road and there was the actually gallery, for free! That cheered me up.
Of course a visit to a modern art gallery is not complete without a random room full of telephone directories. This room was also complemented by a room full of children's clothes on dodgy metal shelves.

I then went next door to the Palais Tokyo which is another modern art gallery which has no permanent collection, but shows installation art, I think their unofficial motto is "The weirder the better". When I went the exhibition was called Cellar Door, which is meant to be the most pleasing combination of sounds, according to Tolkien anyway, and who is to argue with the master. But the funny thing is that it's by a French artist, so is Cellar Door as pleasing with a French accent as it supposedly is without one? And wouldn't the French have their own equally pleasing combination of sounds?

Anyway this was one weird-ass installation piece, luckily they gave out a magazine with some notes on it. In the foreword they describe the piece as "an ambitious artistic enterprise..a colossal organsim engendered by an original music score that distends space and time" and it carries on in that same fashion.

These trees are actually coated in gunpowder and then there was also a whole stack of neon tubes on the wall which weren't on. You then read the sign that goes with it and it says the tubes are all filled with propane and would explode it they were plugged in, nice!

The works seemed to give the impression that they should be performed, all the signs had musical scores on them and words to songs, but there never was any performance, I guess that is supposed to mean something too.

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