The Unknown Gem : Museum of Modern Art City of Paris

When you hear about Paris and its museums everybody will tell you about the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou, Versailles, the Musée d’Orsay and so on and so forth. But not a lot will tell you :

“You are into modern art ? You have to go see the MAM of Paris !”

Maybe it was just me but I did not met a lot of people who went there, especially tourists. Of course when you go you don’t have plenty of time but it is unfortunate.

I went there this past Tuesday, I have been wanted to go for quite some time now.

First good point : it is FREE. The permanent collection is FREE for EVERYBODY. I am always jumping around when a museum does that.

So me and my free ticket enjoyed the collections, which are amazing. That is a second good point.

Well, now let’s be honest good collections do not make everything, (remember what I thought of the Met you can read about it here).

Third good point : The MAM of Paris has a great scenography, it is clear and white, each room is either dedicated to one artist or to one movment. And in each of those you have a well-written pannel with clear explanation to understand why this is being shown in a museum. I was actually quite impressed with the quality and accessibility of the texts.

Let me show you an example :

Museum of Modern art city of Paris / Musée d'art moderne de la ville de ParisThe text is not too long, shown in both French and English and is quite easy to read.

I might work in the Art field but when I visit an exhibition I don’t particularly enjoy reading an essay about art history or art theory. Especially when I am just trying to have a pleasant time walking though artworks and trying to understand the meaning or the intention of the artist.

This museum is amazing for schools, if you are a family or by yourself  if you are searching for a place to understand art history and get clear explanations. I did not take the audio-guide but if it is the same quality as the panel I might go back and try it.

Enough talk about the professional side of things… let’s talk about ART !

First things firts, I am not going to do a lecture about art history today I want to talk to you about 3 artists I loved at the museum.

N°1 – JIMMIE DURHAM

Musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris

Labyrinth, Jimmie Durham, 2007

Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris / Museum of modern art Paris

Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris / Museum of Modern art paris

translation of what is written : “These bullets have been pressed inside the tree’s trunk”.

The artwork is the ensemble of the wood pieces, the tv is another artwork by him called Smashing (also interesting).

Here is what the museum said about it :

Created in 2007, it is composed of 8 elements and reflects the artist’s work and research about the concept of identity. Connected to a storm which happened in Strasbourg (east of France) in 2001, the Labyrinth is the incarnation of the world transforming : it allows to evoke the visbible and the invisible. The trees become the symbol of a powerful nature, indifferent to life’s events, carying at the same time lover’s signatures’ marks and gun bullets from the war.

I was very touched by this artwork by the confrontation of the materials, the biologic, organic feel of the wood against the coldness of the metal and the violent meaning coming from the bullets. I feel there is a lot of melancholia, sadness and memory in this piece. Like when you walk into an old room full of objects which means so much to their owners. The trees are silent witnesses of people’s lives, there were here before us and will be here after. There is also a bit of contradiction because the trees represent the powerful nature but they are shown in manufactured states transformed by the man’s hand. This piece brings so many great questions and debates.

N°2 – KEES VAN DONGEN

Musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris / museum of modern art paris

Portrait of Renée Maha, aka the Sphinx, 1920, oil on canvas

Musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris / museum of modern art paris

Maria Ricotti in “L’Enjôleuse”, 1921, oil on canvas

I wish my photos would show off more the colors of these two portraits. I was just blown away by how powerful these two looks and feel. You are just drown to them by the magnificence and the attraction of the women in them. I did not know these women of course but I feel like the artist truly painted their aura, their personality and their attraction power. In the chromatic field what is interesting is the green he used for the skin (the same way the Fauvistes did). You could spend so much time analyzing all the details of every shadows in these paintings.

In the first one you can truly see the quality by looking at the dress she is wearing. Thanks to the fluidity, the white blurs placed carefully you can almost feel the touch of the textile.

These two women thanks to the dark colors of the background, the greys and greens of their faces but also (especially in the second one) the physical specificities of that time for women : tall, thin, big eyes, long hands, long legs ; It feels they are almost from a dream or a poem.

N°3 – RAOUL DUFY

Musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris / Museum of modern art paris

Hippodrome at Ascott, Raoul Dufy, 1937-38, oil on canvas

musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris / museum of modern art paris

Thirty year or La vie en rose, Raoul Dufy, 1931

I never thought I would be amazed by these kind of paintings but again being able to see it in person makes you see the true colors and vibrant emotion of the artwork. The colors in Dufy’s paintings are just so modern, so lively it justs makes you want to enter the scene. Just like the Fauvists here the subject is important but not quite as today’s artwork. The matter remains in the colors, in the way colors and drawings are represented together, linked.

Like in the painting above how the artist managed to paint a room with so much pinks, reds and still be so perfectly balanced.

While represented scenes of the everyday life the artist shows the spectator how he perceives the colors around him. How he sees an orange floor so strong it comes also on the feet of the table and that one its color doesn’t even show.

The last painting by him is actually something impressive and beautifull. Called The Electricity Fairy it was ordered by the Parisian Electricity Compagny for the International Exhibition of 1937.

Musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris / Museum of modern art paris

Musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris / Museum of modern art parisThe painting is 10 x 60 meters (32 x 196 feet in the internet converter is correct), covering the walls of an entire room. The subject is electricity but exactly it is : the story of electricity and its applications. The artist used many themes he loved : sailboats, birds, bals, etc. He also decided to intertwine allegories, mythology with the actual history facts. And of course let’s not forget the colors which just gives dynamic to this beautiful painting.

Below is the panoramic picture I took with my phone I tried to get all the room  but that was quite a challenge ! musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris / museum of modern art paris

Here are just a few pictures I took, to see more check out my facebook page here.

The Boy from Mars, Philippe Parreno, 2005

The Boy from Mars, Philippe Parreno, 2005

Januray 6th 1968, Zao Wou-Ki, 1968, oil on canvas

Januray 6th 1968, Zao Wou-Ki, 1968, oil on canvas

to know more about the Museum here is their website : www.mam.paris.fr/en/

thanks for your visit !

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