Written by One Kriviciute
Paris is full of art. Paris could be called the art capital not only of Europe but also of the world. Paris has attracted artists for centuries. They include some of the most famous such as Renoir, Degas, and van Gogh. Artists still gather in Paris to this day, you can see this by wandering the streets of Montmartre or walking along the banks of the Seine. For centuries, Paris has attracted artists from around the world, so it is not surprising that Paris holds some of the world’s most famous museums and galleries, and therefore has a reputation as the “City of Art”. Although weeks, months or even years would not be enough to visit the most famous works of art in Paris, however, in a few days, you can at least get to know the main works of art in Paris, presenting the Parisian art world.
Orsay Museum is the best starting point for art museum tours. The Orsay Museum is one of the most important and largest museums in the world. Travel website TripAdvisor 2018 announced The Orsay Museum as the best-rated art space by visitors. Orsay hosts one of the largest collections of impressionist and post-impressionist works, including works from the period 1848-1914, the period best reflecting the golden age of Parisian art. In Orsay, you can see the works of such artists as Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and other equally famous artists. These are not just individual works, but entire collections that include more than 20 works by Van Gogh, over 40 Degas and over 50 works by Cézanne. Famous paintings, such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone and Bedroom in Arles, Renoir’s Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, Monet’s Poppy Field and Waterlilies, Degas’s Ballerinas, can be seen in the museum.
However, Orsay Museum is not only special for its art masterpieces – the building itself, which houses the museum, is also unique. The building of the Orsay museum was the former rail station, which was built by three architects: Lucien Magne, Émile Bénard and Victor Laloux in 1900 and was called Gare d’Orsay. The rail station lost its original function back in 1939, later a post office was established in the building, several films were shot, and later a hotel was opened. The building was listed as a historical monument in 1978 and reopened as the Musée d’Orsay. The museum area is a showpiece itself, decorated with ceiling rosettes, wide arches, and the clock that is still left from the station. Therefore, it is worth visiting, not only for the masterpieces of art by French Impressionists and post-Impressionists but also for the century-old train station itself.
After visiting Orsay Museum it’s time to visit The Musée de l’Orangerie. Just across the Seine from the Orsay, the Musée de l’Orangerie is known for famous impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, like Claude Monet’s monumental series of water lily paintings, Les Nymphéas. The Musée de l’Orangerie holds paintings by Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and other famous impressionist and post-impressionist artists. The Musée de l’Orangerie is even sometimes called the holy site for impressionism and post-impressionist art, so it is a must-visit to experience Parisian art.
To feel the art’s power, it’s important not only to observe the artworks but also to get to know the creators themselves. Because only after knowing the artists, what they were like, how they lived, and how their creative environment looked, then you can see what they truly wanted to show, the hidden message. Although Paris was and is full of resident artists, the most impressively preserved artist’s daily life and space is the painter – Monet.
Just a 45-minute train ride from Paris, in the village of Giverny, on the right bank of the river Seine, stands a house with a garden overflowing with flowers. It’s a place where Monet lived for over 40 years. Monet was inspired by his gardens, by the water lilies in the pond, by a weeping willow tree, and by all these floral masterpieces, all of which became the inspiration for many of his greatest works of art. His famous paintings such as the Water Lilies series, Iris Jaune, Water Lilies and the Japanese Bridge and many others were born here. The Giverny house in which the artist and his family lived contains his studio, rooms, where his daily life took place, and Monet’s collection of Japanese prints. It is a great place to get to know one of the world-famous painters, by wandering not only in his gardens, but also in the kitchen decorated with blue and white ceramic tiles from Rouen, in his salon studio, with flowery sofas surrounded by his paintings, or peek into his bright bedroom, or just wander in his dining room, where he with a family used to eat roasted ducks. By wandering in Giverny, you can feel what Monet lived in his everyday life, what an atmosphere he was in, and how it was reflected in his paintings. It’s the perfect place to understand why this place has a huge impact on Monet’s creativity, and how always-changing nature had the power to inspire him daily. Monet was inspired by the different colours throughout the day, throughout the seasons, so it’s not surprising that there are several paintings of the same landscape, like water lilies which he painted around 250 times. Day in Giverny lets you feel Monet’s life and art deeper.
When visiting Paris, it is important to see not only the most famous works of the last century but also to see what is being created by artists today, to get a sense of Paris’ current- day artistic scene. One of the most representative museums of today’s art in Paris is Palais de Tokyo. Opened in 2002, Palais de Tokyo hosts exhibitions and performances presenting contemporary creators. Palais de Tokyo has become Europe’s largest contemporary art centre in 2012, so it is safe to say that it is the perfect place to get to know the art of today. Palais de Tokyo hosts hundreds of international artists every year. It’s a place where you can see how contemporary art pushes boundaries as most of the exhibits are multimedia. In a large and open space with an ever-changing programme of temporary exhibitions, the museum represents today’s art world. Palais de Tokyo is the perfect place to meet the creators of our time.
At the end of the tour, a short walk through the places of Paris, where world-famous artists were looking for inspiration and where some of today’s artists are still looking for it. The importance of the city can be seen in many different works of art. By capturing their daily lives, they preserved the Paris of the time. One of them was Van Gogh who lived in
Paris from 1886 to 1888. He captured Paris life in his various paintings, filled with scenes of Montmartre, and cafes, the same as the famous painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Van Gogh captures Moulin de la Galette in the district of Montmartre. Van Gogh captured Paris as he saw it then, how it was there at the time, he captured it from his daily life, like in the painting View of Paris from Vincent’s Room. He captured moments of that time.
Walking through the streets of Paris where masterpieces were born, it becomes easier to feel the space, to feel the atmosphere that inspired the great artists who lived in Paris. Like a Cafe de la Nouvelle-Athènes, a café on the Place Pigalle in Paris. It was a meeting place and an inspiring place for Impressionist painters including Van Gogh, Matisse, Degas, Jean- Louis Forain and others. It’s the place where the famous painting L’Absinthe was painted, by Degas. By visiting the neighbourhood of Cafe de la Nouvelle-Athènes and looking at L’absinthe by Edgar Degas, it becomes easier to feel why certain colours were chosen, to understand the visual aesthetic, and how the place is represented in the painting. A walk- through Paris makes it possible to finally understand why Paris is the sanctuary of art to this day.