A destination that although so famous and known that never ceases to surprise is Paris. The French capital is a place that deserves to be seen and lived intensely. Theater of social revolutions, perfect stage for heated clashes that have characterized history, but above all a city of art. To immerse yourself in the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is to feel deeply how the architecture of the French style emerges in the smallest details of the most disparate corners of these avenues. Even the name of these streets exudes history, the name in fact refers to the fields Elisi, a blessed place where mortal souls lived, loved by the gods in Greek mythology. Walking through these long streets allows you to admire immortal masterpieces. At the end of this great avenue, one appreciates therefore the triumphal arch, so desired by Napoleon Bonaparte to celebrate his victory at the Battle of Austerliz in 1805, for example. But let’s get to the point, Paris does not stop only at long and immense tree-lined avenues and monuments for the homeland, because its beauty can be looked at carefully through a work of art. What better place to start an art tour than with the world’s most famous museum. 

The Louvre
The Louvre is known as the largest museum in the world. It is also the first museum on the top of the list to be the most visited in the world. This sumptuous place, takes its name from the palace that houses it . Originally it was built as a fortress, according to the will of King Philip II of France during the twelfth century. Later it was modified in the structure we see today, which is a work strongly desired by Charles V of France during the fourteenth century. It then became the seat of the French monarchy until 1682 as Louis XIV moved the seat to the Palace of Versailles. What makes this complex so fascinating and must-see is its mammoth collection. The museum houses about 380,000 objects and works of art, starting from ancient art to embrace the English school of the eighteenth century. A place that is punctuated by stairs and long corridors that lead to total perdition. The wonder of this place can however be expressed also in its being so labyrinthine, fortunately, however we can equip ourselves with a thread of Arianna in such a way as to have a clear path of this sparkling blaze of works. First of all, following a chronological thread is the most important step, starting from that is the emblem of the ancient sculpture par excellence, The Nike of Samothrace. A masterpiece of 180 B.C. that perfectly represents the aesthetic wisdom of Greek matrix through the drapery well delineated, as if we could see it in flight. The accuracy is so fine that we can see highlighted the relative parts of the course, as if it were, flesh and bone, human. A figure so unparalleled, to dominate the whole area, by a boat, in the Daru scale. It also represents the sporting victory but in more specific sense, for the war victory . Since the work was conceived for the Battle of Eurymedon in 190 B.C. The expression of movement and gracefulness manifested in the work then became an undisputed model until more recent times. The Nike in fact will be an example widely used as an archetype of movement and speed for the artistic movement of futurism. Moving forward with the years, we move towards an artistic historical period that is among the most famous of art. I am speaking of course of the Renaissance. The Italian genius is therefore often housed in numerous museums abroad. Fortunately, the collection held at the Louvre is rich in Italian art. Among these it is good to mention, if not describe with skill, the irreproachable master of that time, Leonardo Da Vinci. Although there are many works, his sketches and scientific drafts always in search of discovery, his main work in this place, is the Monnalisa. The famous smile just mentioned, the penetrating and at the same time mysterious look. The woman who has been arguing for years for her ineffability. The colours that emerge from the work perfectly follow Leonardo’s ontrol in the use of aerial perspective and the measure of distance set in an environment inserted in the natural world, far from the frenzy of the city. The woman, almost as if she had the power to bewitch the viewer, leaves stunned and amazed by reflecting on what she wants to send to the audience that looks at her. This is therefore his secret, the power to know how to enchant. There are many psychoanalytic key studies to be able to effectively understand the expression of this enigmatic woman. An Italian noblewoman, it is said, according to tradition, that she was Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo (another reason why the work is also often called ” Gioconda”. Another key element of the history of this work was given to us by the Salai. Through a document dating from 1525 that lists numerous works, the intimate pupil, who followed Leonardo to France. The work in fact remained in Paris and it is not clear if the artist had wanted to give it to Francis I at the time, it is a fact that its charm was so irrefutable that it was placed even in the bedroom of Napoleon Bonaparte. After several trips, he returned to the Louvre in 1804. His fame as well as for the rebus itself grew dramatically when the painting was stolen. An Italian, Vincenzo Peruggia, who worked as a guard inside the museum, for a totally unfounded patriotic impulse and the great desire to return to the motherland, he stole it in 1911. At that time many artists were questioned and even thought of an act of terrorism by the German Empire, until after almost two years in which it was believed lost, it re-emerged in Florence because the thief wanted to resell it. 

Then after an agreement between the two countries, it was agreed that the work would return to the Louvre and return to the collection. How many curiosities and background are revealed for a work that has made the tour of Europe and not only, appreciated by all, it is common that it is often lent in other museums such as Moscow, New York and even Tokyo. In conclusion, I present a work that contains the greatness in the sense of material space and ideal of the great sense of freedom sought by the French during tumultuous days, marked by great changes. I think that this work deserves a brief mention because first, it is french and in the secundis I consider it is a great tribute to a community that is perfectly expressed in feelings and actions. The impression you get when you look at this magnificent masterpiece is the feeling of being literally thrown into the fray. The work to which I refer is Freedom Guiding the People, the painting of Eugène Delacroix, an oil on canvas, made in 1830. Initially it may appear particularly chaotic and heterogeneous, but the set of characters in the background can fulfill a sense of balanced chaos. The first figure that stands out to the eye is freedom in the form of a woman holding the french flag in her hand, with her breasts uncovered and with a proud and impenetrable profile. Almost as if they were wisely arranged in order there are numerous characters that surround it almost as if they wanted to follow it, in all its intentions. Two ideals almost opposed and antipodes but sharing the same moral momentum. On the right there is a young boy who represents the youthful strength, thirsty for independence, opposed to the absolute monarchy. To the left of freedom instead, you can notice an intellectual, bourgeois with a cylinder on his head, holding a shotgun. Although distant, even this particular figurative, shows the social mix strongly amalgamated, at a time when France longed for independence and thus depicts a people in revolution, in memory of the French Revolution of 1789 in fact. At the feet of these prominent characters lie the fallen in the revolution, lost souls, made with disarming realism, a symbol of death for those who have sacrificed their lives for an ideal. The historical story refers properly to the days of turmoil during 1830, when the suffering French people rose up against the monarchy of Charles X of Bourbon. The geometrical arrangement of the work seems to trace a pyramidal figure consciously taken from another French genius. Gericault who represented in the Raft of the Jellyfish, another historical episode, of a tragedy of an 1816 shipwreck in Mauritania. Finally a personal consideration to those who read this article. I saw Paris, it had the immense pleasure of walking through the corridors of the Louvre. The feeling I had was that of a royal of France and despite the opulence dominated by the wonderful Napoleonic mirrors and stucco ceilings, it makes you feel that it is a place that can never tired. 

Musée D’Orsay

Going on with our path a museum that deserves to be mentioned and seen is the Musee d’orsay. In the first place the choice of the location of the museum is already a story in itself. In fact the museum is called so because it was a former railway station that was used for exhibitions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, before that there was a cavalry barracks. Surely what is disruptive in these walls is the multitude of french artists who have marked the period of impressionism and not only. The feeling that I felt most in these places is to be scandalized, upset, literally overwhelmed. As the famous writer, poet and director Pasolini well stated : “I think that scandalizing is a right, to be scandalized is a pleasure, and whoever refuses to be scandalized is a moralist, the so-called moralist”. That’s why this museum has been a symbol of scandal and awe for me at the same time. I sincerely appreciated it and I was pleasantly inspired by the works that fascinated me the most. The first, unforgettable, is The Origin of the World by Gustave Coubert of 1866. I don’t think there are many ways to describe the work if not to effectively report that the one represented is a female vulva almost as if it were photographed. We can see a female body lying on a bed with thighs and a breast in evidence. Strong inspiration are the many women who were depicted by Titian, Veronese and Correggio and who became a true model for the artist. The scandal does not arise in itself and even less in the work because what is appreciated is the impeccable painting of Coubert who, leaving aside criticism, prejudices and a well-thinking bourgeoisie, represented the nature of a woman as she really is. . Following the trend of the charm of the works that I considered the most important, then follows the famous Breakfast on the grass of Edouard Monet, of 1862-1863, one of the fathers of french Impressionism. What makes this picture scandalous. It seems to belong to such a calm and bucolic environment, placed in a lush green of a forest, absorbed and far from the city. One can appreciate the messy and confused brushstrokes to scandalize the traditionalists. The characters are painted with well-built patterned as well as clothes. The work resumes a natural light that makes the characters absorbed and that seems to interrupt them in the act of their break during an intimate breakfast on a lawn. A woman who looks at the spectators, with her face I solve directly towards the spectators as if they were disturbed. The wonder lies above all in the veracity of a work that at times takes up the naturalism typical of Renaissance women and then because it captures the impression. A work that with a painting operated so hastily, is able to frame a perfect moment in time, like a breakfast. The nudes in art have always been contemplated and well accepted only if they had a moral or religious connotation. Otherwise, even the sight of the Christian collections with the figures of Christ naked would have impressed us, but the truth is that the characters just mentioned are all almost feminine and not religious or ethical at all. The perspective given towards a new look of the works of art catapults us into what could also be the collective thought of traditionalists and critics of the West. 

They aimed at art as a discipline of commission, only on aesthetic occasions, so as to embellish noble houses or sumptuous religious buildings but art also through nudes shows us how the scandal in the nude is actually a sign of disdain and social protest. In the end, we are talking about a work that is not known as Western nude but projects us into a world far from meadows or intimate environments from bed to head towards the world of the exotic. The eager search for inspiration and new influences was a current that struck many artists. The example I am referring to is that of Paul Gaughin, a French artist, who, in order to find a new muse for his works, left his family and his children in poverty. He therefore decided to move overseas and find enlightenment worthy of his journey. His chosen destination was Polynesia and he resided there between 1891 and 1893 and then later from 1895 to 1903. Women, beaches, Tiki idols and many foundational objects of the culture and nature of Polynesia thus became the protagonists of his paintings, elements of his new artistic conception and symbols with which to convey his philosophical conception. What we can admire inside the museum is the Vairumati of 1897. The bright colors of yellow and red, almost referred me to the idea of the splendor of the Austrian Gustave Klimt that gave so bright tones of a brilliant golden. The work depicts a young woman as a queen or goddess, Vairumat. Inserted in a golden background of more Chinese style than Maori, which gives it a sort of halo and acts at the same time as a throne. It is common if the girl belonged to another dimension, made dreamlike by the use of warm colors that give the idea of a fantasy atmosphere, superior or otherwise different from the real one. An idea that the artist postponed is both his immense love depicted for this island and for the female figures and for all that concerns as uses and customs of a population so different from what could be the French, of the time.

Musée de l’Orangerie

Although I have had the opportunity to review many of the most famous French artists in the world, in these two well-known museums, I missed the opportunity to see one of the most famous works of the last museum of which section. During my Parisian tour, in fact, I unfortunately missed an opera. This series makes this museum famous, I’m talking about a work within the Musée National de l’Orangerie. The building is located within the gardens of the Tuileries. Opened to the public in 1927, this museum is located in an ancient orange greenhouse, the name given to the museum. His fame is well known for a work that is the cycle of paintings by Claude Monet depicting the famous Nymphéas. It is a series of paintings given to France by the painter Claude Monet following the armistice of 11 November 1918 as a symbol of peace and exhibited in the halls of the Orangerie in 1927, a few months after the death of the artist, as he wanted. This cycle of works was so loved by the artist as to repeat it numerous times, it is his distinctive feature that will accompany him
throughout his life. In fact, during his artistic career he will realize a number of nymphs of about 250, 300 works that recovered the theme of nymphs but revisited and reinterpreted it always in a new way. The present work is presented through panels two meters high and equally wide. The idea of creating such a large series was conceived by the artist so that the viewer could see the pond in the same way he could see it. In this way you can see in detail and attention every fragment crystallized and well framed in time by Monet. In the wake of impressionism, this was his initial idea, to be able to recreate instant by instant a scenario. One aspect to be considered very important is above all the sense of spatial perception that follows in relation to a work. It is clear that what a masterpiece transports us to a sphere of sensations, emotions and constant reflections marked by metaphors of ideological thoughts or personal allusions. But what Monet most wanted to aim at was the spatial, real feeling, lived inside a pond, full of blue water lilies. The constant repetition made by Monet in a series of specific themes means the desire of his style that is that of impressionism. This artistic current that is often referred to in hasty and unclear brushstrokes, does not want to be mysterious but to mention the movement and transience of every moment. This is why it happens, that he repeats the same theme over and over again, so that the user can live an ever new experience of the same element. Have so, absorb, enjoy a theme, revisited and reconsidered according to all its aspects.

History of the visual arts, 1886

The 1886 marks a turning point for the visual arts. An episode in the history of art that should not be allowed to flow because it marks a break with what was the most accredited artistic current. In this year the current of impressionism ends with an exhibition at the Maison Dorée in Paris. Those who worked in the last twenty years according to this artistic line gained a lot of fame especially abroad, as in America, thanks to the merchant Durand Ruel. By now, after years of research and  new students, impressionism was losing prestige until new artists sought their autonomy, departing from it. An après-midi dimanche à l’Île de la Grande Jatte by the artist Seurat was a great novelty. The elders Renoir and Monet were visibly irritated and unaccustomed to this painting, as it marked the end of the impressionist current. We opened towards a new horizon, called the chromatic circle. The new idea was to combine yarns of different colors but complementary, we approached a greater result and a new brightness. Thus a new current was born, that of neo-impressionism. A current that sought a scientific side on the basis of impressionism. All the figures represented are fixed in their positions and stylized. The faces, when you can notice them, seem empty. The protagonists seem to enjoy their Sunday afternoon on the Seine forever, because their actions are frozen in time. We say goodbye to the hasty brushstrokes and to the composition created in a few hours because we will call this style pointillism. The artist composes the placement of small dots of pure color next to each other on the canvas. In this way the dots merge in the viewer’s mind, thanks to the eye that observes them. For example, this effect on the canvas in the work seems almost to reproduce the heat of the hot sun. It was first a scientific study on impressionism and not by chance because seurat is inspired by the optical effects and studies on perception related to the theories of color of two scientists quite famous at the time Michel Eugène Chevreul and Ogden Rood. Not only for theories on color but for discoveries related to soap and diabetes then anything. Seurat, however, decided to study the theories of the two chemists and to apply them in art, thus giving rise to a new artistic current. 

L’absinthe, Degas

The distinctive feature of Edgar Degas, a french painter active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries dates back to the representation of bodies in motion. His style is recognized in her dancers, with the constant intention of reproducing a strong vitality. For this reason, among the themes represented, it depicts dance scenes, racecourses, portraits of the subjects of everyday parisian life, so natural that they do not seem to pose. A very famous fragment that embodies his style is represented by the picture of wormwood. L’absinthe of 1875 – 1876 represents a work that is the mirror of the reality of the time. Through its dark colors and dramatic characters, the painting shows patrons sitting inside a bar. The protagonist,a young woman, dressed in heavy clothes that completely cover her and a fashionable hat, totally disillusioned and now inexorable. laid a chalice containing a light yellow drink. In the left side table there is a transparent and empty bottle placed on a metal tray. Near the woman, on the right, a man in dark clothes smokes from a pipe and looks over the edge of the painting. Behind the two characters their shadows are reflected on the mirror. The sadness and despair of the characters immersed in a dark and disconsolate environment, shows the reality of those parisian days closed in bars that found consolation in the bottom of a glass. Although the artist portrayed two of his acquaintances who were recognized and criticized, he claimed they were not alcoholics. The fact is that the low cost of the substance,wormwood, soon favored a great consummation and alcoholism became a national scourge. The concerns of quality alcohol producers and public administrations led to the prohibition of the use of wormwood in 1915.