dran, Attention de ne pas tomber, 2014.

I didn’t want this Paris trip to be an endless bunfight in art galleries. I love the art and the amazing spaces in Paris, but fighting with a thousand other tourists to get a two second look at a panting is just not my scene. So on this trip I limited myself to just one gallery, one gallery out of all the magic that Paris had to offer. Of course I had to choose my favourite modern art gallery; Palais de Tokyo. Before I even looked at what was on I knew it was the type of gallery to have the most insane and cool of the modern art on offer, exactly what I wanted.

The nice thing about the Palais de Tokyo is that you follow a set path through the building. So many galleries are a set of rooms for you to choose to go into or not, which means you can avoid the art that you don’t want to see, but also means you miss giving art a second chance or experiencing something new. At the Palais de Tokyo you have to see everything on offer, much like an arty Ikea there is only one path through the madness, so you just have to gird your loins and enter the lions den.

 

The exhibition that was on offer could not have been more perfect if I had tried. It was ‘Inside’ which some artists took to mean the distinction between two spaces (inside v outside) and others used as a chance to study the ‘inside’ of humanity, and one guy lived in a bear for a while. You know, it wouldn’t be modern art if someone didn’t think it was a good idea to live inside a bear.

Since whenever I talk about my favourite pieces of art I get trolled by Art Majors who want to prove how much they know, I will preface this by saying I like these because they are awesome and stuff…not because they are buried in a thesis somewhere. First is this super cool effect by artist Marcius Galan, it was a white room that looked like it was cut off by an angled piece of glass, but actually it was just a paint effect (the photo really doesn’t do the mind trick justice).

Vue d'exposition, Inside, Palais de Tokyo (2014), Marcius Galan

I also loved this marble sculpture that looked like a sheet fort build by a four year old, and a four year old with no spacial reasoning skills at that. The fabric on classical sculptures is always fascinating to me, how artists get that sort of soft look from stone is beyond my comprehension. But cool nonetheless.

Marble blanket fort Palais de Tokyo Paris

Oh and that bear I mentioned? Yes artist Abraham Poincheval lived inside a bear sculpture for 13 days. It had everything he needed even a small kettle, so he could live completely cut off from the world…in a bear. Thank god there are artists out there to do thing sort of thing so we don’t have to.

And the last one I am going to mention, the pièce de résistance the tunnel made of scotch tape. No photos were allowed from inside (yes you could crawl around inside the thing) but here is one from underneath. It looked like some sort of extra from Dr Who, that stretched all the way across the entry hall, above the heads of people buying tickets.  It was made out of scotch tape and I feel that some sort of extreme office makeover could be called for, after all I think every day is a good day if you are working in a Scotch tape web.

Tape Paris, Numen For Use. Exposition INSIDE, Palais de Tokyo 2014

Oh and before I forget, the corridors of the Palais de Tokyo are just as exciting as the art (or it could be art, I can never really tell). All the white walls over three levels had been tagged with crude but clever black images. They used anything that was already there as inspiration like the florescent lights as the centre of an eye or a lamppost (like the one at the top). I would also suggest this for an office makeover, except I think I already know what the response would be if I walked up to my boss with a can or two of black spray paint.

If you are in Paris and want to see some cool insane stuff then head over to Palais de Tokyo. The added bonus is that it is within walking distance to both the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe so you can get your tourist fix and your nutter fix in one.

MAM

Ok so not really. When I was in Paris the one thing I wanted to do above all was go to the new Louvre in the small mining town of Lens. Turns out the train times suck and it is surprisingly hard to get to for a casual day trip from Paris. My compromise on a rainy Sunday morning was to try an art gallery that I had never been to before (and until some hard core googleing the night before did not even know existed). Say hello to the Paris Modern Art Gallery*.

I am so very very glad that Louvre Lens turned out to be a bust, because my trip to the Modern Art Gallery was one of the most enjoyable and somehow spiritual moments of my entire Paris adventure.

On this rainy Sunday morning there was no one else in the gallery. I mean no one. I found a couple of other people towards the end of my visit, but for a good hour I had the place to myself**. It was the most calm and centering experience I have had in a while. Standing in a room of exquisite paintings it was so quiet that I could hear my own heart beating. With the high ceilings, modernist art, bright white walls and silence it was as if I was in my own version of heaven.

The art was pretty damn good too. None of the weird installations of the Pompidou, this was just honest to goodness abstract art. What was even better was that they were artists that I had never heard of before (or knew a single thing about), so it was just genuine aesthetic enjoyment rather than fame drinking pretension.

Honestly the best art experience I have had I think ever.

Oh and this gallery is FREE!!! I think we have found the holy grail of galleries.

*Don’t feel bad, I thought the Pompidou was the modern art gallery too.

** well, me and the staff watching me in every room … slightly creepy

Paris art

 

The only thing I can really compare the Pompidou to is the Tate Modern in London. They are both on the ‘statement’ end of the modern art scale (also knows as ‘weird’, ‘WTF’ or ‘who the hell would pay money for that’), and both can be guaranteed to make me furious, curious and laugh out loud in the space of a few minutes.

What I was most shocked by on this visit was how much of the art I remembered from the first time I ever when to Paris almost ten years ago. Sure it had moved around a bit, but I thought that there was a larger art turnover in Modern art galleries (why I thought it would be any different to classical galleries is beyond me). Maybe there is a cycle of display but I just managed to double up in the ten year gap? Oh well, I guess if you have paid all that money for dozens of hanging stockings all holding different spices, you want to show it off.

We stopped here just in time (2002)

One thing that the Pompidou does really well is to intersperse this hanging sock crazy-town displays with some actual real life quite good paintings. My favourite was this large scale beauty by Joan Mitchell (1974). I’m not sure if it is the colours or just how uncomplicated it is that appeals to me, but I think when I eventually buy a house a replica of this may appear as a feature wall.

Joan Mitchell (1974)

The upper floor of the Pompidou is all about old modern art – think Miro, Picasso et al. I wasn’t really in the mood for angular breasts and giant walls of blue so instead I escaped onto the roof terrace to take in the stunning view over Paris.

Paris

Ironically I think that the best of the Pompidou is actually in the lobby. If you are running short of time, just take a look at the architecture on the outside, and then go inside for your Ta Da moment.

Ta-da
xx

Anna Parkina

Phew, end of the three day Saatchi marathon – like the London marathon but with less sweat. Time for this fabulous sculpture by Anna Parkina.

I’m not sure why I like ‘on a swallows wing’ but I really do. A different perspective from every angle and some subtle hints of blue.

The funniest bit is that it looks like it should be useful (this may be the IKEA colour scheme). I walked round it four times trying to see if I could store magazines, balance my iPad or rest my cup of tea. But like most art it refused to have any practical purpose.

As sculptures go this is one of the ‘nice’ ones. Not shocking or overpowering, but still a reasonable size and intriguing to look at.

And from certain angles it looks like a baby elephant.