Monday, October 26, 2009

The Musée d'Orsay

The Musée d'Orsay is one my favourite museums for all sorts of reasons. I love the art. I love the the structure which contains it. I love where it's situated and I love the views from the roof over the Seine across to the Louvre with l'Opera and Monmartre in the distance.

Musée d'Orsay - art and the artists

The museum is dedicated to artwork in the period 1848 to 1914 and is, in part, a temple to Impressionism. Essentially it starts where the Louvre leaves off. The artwork housed in the museum came from three different collections.

There's an immense range of work and it takes a long time to get round it all. Last month, I stayed the whole day in the museum until it closed. For the very first time I got round nearly all the paintings and saw many I'd never seen before. This is partly because of the way in which the museum is laid out. You can think you've been through all the rooms when in fact you've left out a huge chunk.

It's probably the best museum for seeing collections of paintings by the various artists associated with Impressionism anywhere in the world.

This is:
You can copy works in the museum
Freehand drawing
Freehand pencil sketches, not exceeding 30 x 60 cm, are allowed in the museum. However, for groups, previous authorisation must be requested when the booking is made.

Copying museum works of art, by professional or amateur copyists, or by art school students, requires an individual authorisation. This is issued to one named person, and for a single work. The request must be submitted at least one month before the required date of entry to the museum. The permission is valid for three months, and may not be extended.
The museum allows photography of the exhibits (Yay!) - so long as flash is not used.

During museum opening times, works may be photographed or filmed in the permanent exhibition halls for personal or private use, excluding use for groups or for commercial purposes.

The use of flash, incandescent lamps, tripods or other support, is not allowed without an individual authorisation from the museum director.

As a result - and because this time I had the time to go round on my own I photographed all the pictures I liked - and all the ones by artists I wanted to know more about - plus their caption labels - and uploaded them all to Flickr. You'll note that some photos are taken at slightly funny angles - this is done largely to avoid glare or reflections.

What I found when I got my photographs home is that you can see so much more - just as you can when visiting a museum in terms of how an artist makes marks with for example a brush. Here, for example of the artist's eye from one of the self-portraits done by Vincent van Gogh. You just can't pick that up from good reproductions in books.

You can see my Flickr set here - makingamark2 - Musee d'Orsay.

I'm making them public as I get them labelled - I'm doing it in batches and I think I'm about a third of the way through (inbetween writing lots of words about nutty planning policies!).

If you like, you can subscribe to this feed and this will enable you to receive periodic updates as I convert works to being public with titles. (I think you choose the frequency - I get mine weekly)

You can also use camcorders. I took mine and this is a video of the Degas bronzes on Flickr.

Musée d'Orsay - the building

The building was originally a railway station the Gare d'Orsay which was built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900. The museum is in this building because the trains got too long for its platforms. It closed in 1937 and was empty for a very long time. Obviously there were other priorities for a period of time. Latterly the outcry over the destruction of Les Halles in 1971 meant that it was saved from demolition threats - and there was a lobby to preserve this landmark building. It opened as a museum in 1986.This is the museum floor plan. The location of artworks is updated every morning, before the Museum opens, based on information from the previous evening.

Musée d'Orsay - the views

One of the things I really like about the Musée d'Orsay is the way you can get out on to the roof terrace next to the cafe which is at the top of the building. For some reason the door was locked on my last visit. As it was this time until somebody realised that it was actually a very warm day and maybe people would enjoy being outside. So they opened the doors to the terrace - at which point about half the care got up and walked outside!

I did my very first sketch in Paris on that terrace several years ago! It has the most stunning views of Montmatre and Sacre Couer.

Musée d'Orsay - Resources for Art Lovers

I've set up a site to record all the links about the Museum and you can find it here - although it's still early days! Musée d'Orsay - Resources for Art Lovers

The museum also has a range of information sheets:

Making a Mark reviews......


Anonymous said...

Excellent post. One never has enough time to see all the art in Paris. Which is good because you have to go back again and again!

Kelly Borsheim Artist said...

What a wonderful resource page you have created and I love the image of the Van Gogh close-up! I am delighted that you shared information about how to have access to copying great works of art. I doubt many artists would even consider this to be an accessible learning tool.

Thank you. I do not know where you find the time! really impressive site

Kelly Borsheim, sculptor

Astrid Volquardsen said...

This is the place to go, if you want to see really wonderful pastel paintings.

Making A Mark said...

I absolutely agree - and I was really disappointed that most of them had gone off for restoration! No Degas pastels to be seen anywhere!!!

Julie Dunion said...

Brilliant post, Katherine. A great reminder of why d'Orsay is my favourite gallery. Must renew my passport :-)

JChevais said...

Well well well. It has been a very long time since I've gone to Musée d'Orsay (an outrageous amount of time seeing as how I can go whenever I want). But am planning on going to the Ensor exhibit soon. Now I'll have more than one exhibit hall to visit when I'm there.


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