While Rod floats towards Barcelona, Jim and I continued our assault on the great museums of Paris. Today was the Musee D'Orsay where we started off with some fortifying lunch to get us through the cultural battle that lay ahead. Also photography is not permitted so i'm afraid its a short post today.
As the afternoon wore on we spotted this museum casualty convalescing on a conveniently provided bench.
I would also like to mention that though i didn't get a photograph of it we did see a concept drawing for the building that was suppose to replace the Orsay train station when they wanted to tear it down back in the 60's, and i can tell you it would have made a lovely Walmart. So to whoever mobilized the forces that saved this building from demolition and instead turned it into this amazing museum, which is i'm sure a huge economic generator for the city's tourism industry, a great big MERCI.
Going to the Louvre with your camera is abit like prospecting. You dig and dig and once in awhile your looking rewards you with treasure. That ping of recognition that you're looking at something that you recognize, not through familiarity but through some obscurely struck and echoing cord. Of course in the Louvre the challenge is discovering your treasure amid the superabundance of other treasures. How about the Raft of the Medusa?
Or this statue of winter.
Some marble fruit and grapes.
This jewel of a portrait by Bartholomeus Pons (1535?)
J pretending he's still in Venice with this Canaletto.
Or a Mona Lisa selfie?
And then from home this super story about the owners of the Big Top Restaurant where Rod and i often go for breakfast. The owners found a circus mural during some recent renovation, that covers an entire wall of the restaurant. This story filled me with glee. Sometimes the treasure is right there under your nose.....
People are still sleeping and dreaming in the street....
We went to Notre Dame today where behind the great studded doors of the cathedral.....
Jesus wants 4 Euros to allow you into his treasury....
where little golden bishops dream in their little golden houses....
and the jeweled crowns made by the most talented craftsmen are artfully lit....
and scraps of bone are venerated with silent effiges
gold and diamonds for a few fingernail clippings....
What can you do but stand by the river and wonder.....who decides who dreams in the streets?
We spent a large part of the day yesterday in the Accademia Gallery, where of course they don't allow photography, so instead here's a selection of tourist trash to ponder. There's alot of tourists here and the swag varies from sublime designer wear to the crappiest made in china trinkets.
These were at our local hardware store.
Some adorable marzipan animals?
How about one of these sexy calendars?
Many, many masks. This was one of my favorites.
or this sexy calendar?
Or a really cute fridge magnet?
After spending the last few days in thrall to contemporary art we decided to catch up on some sightseeing. We started out with some of the principal monuments, which were not being flooded today, the first being the Basilica of San Marco, where every surface is crusted with mosaic. And of course no photography allowed. So why did we come here, if not to take pictures?
From there we strolled next door to check out the Doge's palace and the prisons.
Acres of gilt ceilings studded with paintings by Veronese.
Afternoon light on a curtain outside the Council Chamber
Looking out into the courtyard of the Doges Palace through the old glass.
Across the Bridge of Sighs and into the prisons for a selfie. The prison of the selfie?
The prison courtyard.
Looking out the stone grill from the Bridge of Sighs.
The Doge's Palace.
Then we went up the Campanile to look out over the city.
Such a clear day you could even see the mountains to the north.
We spent Day 2 of our Biennale viewing in the Giardini, which is where most of the country pavilions are located as well as the main pavilion. Here's the entrance to the main pavilion....
Belgium Pavilion selfie. Thankfully it was a bright sunny day. There was a wonderful wax cast of a very large felled tree in here but it was so dark my pics didn't really come out.
This was in the Dutch Pavilion
Eva Kotatkova at the Czech Pavilion. A table covered in interesting sculptural objects.
Loved these two small paintings by Ellen Altfest in the main pavilion
Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser, The 387 Houses of Peter Fritz in the main Pavilion
Exquisite sketchbook drawings by Jose Antonio Suarez Londono of Columbia
Hilarious clay sculpture by Peter Fischli and David Weiss
"Dr Spock looks at his home-planet of Vulcanus and is a bit sad that he cannot have any feelings"
"Charlton Heston kisses Dr Zira in Planet of the Apes"
Rialto Bridge before repairs.
Not quite as good as yesterday's pumpkin tortellini but some nice salmon and roast beef.
Brazilian Pavilion. Interesting interleaved phone books.
Serbian Pavilion. Mickey Mouse product placement.
Serbian Pavilion, little animal heads from found camera cases.
This was, i think, one of the best pavilions, the Romanians, who were recreating historical performance pieces. Fun, witty, unexpected, somewhat theatrical but also very mundane and even kinda sexy.
Ai Wei Wei at the German Pavilion. Are German artists ok with that?
The little stool that didn't get to be an Ai Wei Wei.
Jim in the British pavilion
Shary Boyle representing Canada.
Some light in a corridor in the French Pavilion, not part of the Biennale.
The Russian Pavilion where a shower of golden coins fell on the female spectators, but not the men. It felt a bit weird to be excluded by gender but i guess that was the point.
Those coins could hurt so an umbrella is provided.
Sarah Sze does an excellent job at the American Pavilion.
After about 5 hours and all but one pavilion, here we are with our legs only slightly longer.
Walking our way back home.
Well, here we go, tickets to the Venice Biennale in hand off we go to the Arsenale this morning to see what's on offer.
I won't torment you by showing all the photographs i took, but here's a few things i really liked...
these shadows on velvet.....
i didn't really like these plastic figure sculptures but i liked the guy coping a feel of that one's ass.
This scale model of the Biennale which rose up out of the water.
This photograph in the Chinese pavilion....
Sometimes it was hard to tell the exhibits from the viewers....
People photographing one another...
Photographs of machines mounted on boxes to look like machines.
This swinging pendulum tree.
This lady's sequined coat....
This wall to wall drawing installation in the Italian Pavilion.
A coffin made of lottery tickets...
This band of brass musicians playing mournfully on a boat in the basin was one of my favorite things.
And despite the all day rain, the awesome spaces of the Arsenal.
In the morning Rod and I set out to explore the Basilica SS Gioanni E Paolo, one of the large gothic churches in the city.
The Doge's big chair.
There were alot of tombs to the various Doges who have ruled the city, each one more elaborate than the last.
In the afternoon i killed some time in the market area near the Rialto bridge waiting for our friend Jim to arrive. Here's the view from the bridge....
All kinds of small food stores in the market area near the Rialto bridge including this horse store.
Then i wandered into the fish market area which was just shutting down for the day....
Box of eels.
The acqua alta continues in this area near the fish market. That's the Grande canal making its way up into a cafe.
Our friend Jim has made it here to spend a couple of days with us at the Biennale.
These local ladies enjoyed a moment of celebrity thanks to Jim.
We woke up this morning to the sound of the siren alert for the acqua alta, which is the high tide which floods parts of the city. Here's how St Marco Square looked around 11 am.
These are the disposable booties you can buy to slip over your shoes if you need to walk through the flood waters. 10EU at most stores, but of course Rod found some for 7.99EU.
You can see the tide water lapping over the edge of the embankment. In most places there are temporary elevated walkways to keep your feet from getting wet, so i made it to several of the offsite Biennale pavilions to see what was up.
This was an installation at the Taiwan Pavilion. Medical booties recalling once again the tidal floods.
There were some nice things at the New Zealand Offsite, including this house made of florescent lights by Bill Culbert
Also by Bill Culbert this humble installation of water filled bottles reflecting the small enclosed world of the Venice canal.
The big surprise of the Biennale so far has been how much crap there is. Take this entry from the offsite Scottish pavilion. Some photographs on the floor beside some pans of evaporated liquid. Maybe it was an interesting idea but totally fell down materially and was not even very interesting visually.
Or how about this piece by Yoko Ono which included a soundtrack of her singing, which may be what killed these 'people'.
I like foxes even when they have human bodies.
This was at the Azerbaijan Pavilion which was actually mostly pretty good.
In a similar vein but not part of the Biennale was this installation at the Palazzo Grassi, which houses the Venice Contemporary art Museum. It was a show by Rudolf Stingel, which also included some abstract paintings and small b&w paintings of religious sculptures, which hung somewhat awkwardly on all this carpet.
Yesterday was a travel day, heading down to Venice to meet Rod and our friend Jim and to catch the dregs of the Biennale on its last few days. And to see Venice of course. Oddly i still find myself trying to speak french to the Italian store clerks.
Charles de Gaulle selfie
From the Venice airport it's just a short bus ride and then a few scenic minutes on the vaparetto and you're there.
Looks like the aqua alta is on, the high water that floods sections of the city during the winter. The first time i was here i wondered what all those low tables in the street were for, is there some kind of party going on? But no, they're the elevated sidewalks people use when the water is high. I've seen alot of people wearing rubber boots and St Mark's Square looks recently very wet, though it hasn't been raining. I'm gonna try and stick to dry land.
It really does look like this. You may be able to make out in the distance on the lagoon a large, pink, Mark Quinn sculpture floating on the water.(just to the left of the white church facade) Probably a biennale escapee.