Panthéon

As a Kiwi I have a certain fascination with grand old buildings. I mean, all we have is the Auckland Museum and that was opened in 1929, compare that to the Panthéon in Paris which was finished in 1790 and there is really no comparison.

The Panthéon in Paris was originally intended as a Church to honour St. Genevieve, but these days it is most commonly visited as a mausoleum for heaps of famous French dudes and dudettes.

Unlike some of the other visitors, for me it was just a tourist curiosity for me rather than a pilgrimage to see a hero (Marie Curie, Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are all entombed there). I was actually just all about the building and seeing the very French style to some of the sculptures there.

In this type of building in Rome you get sculptures of heros and mythological tales, in England you will get Kings and Queens with the occasional lion or unicorn, but in France? You get some very well dressed gentlemen arguing a philosophical point.

Panthéon

I loved this building and (particularly since it is free with the Paris Museum Pass) I think it is well worth a look.

Musee d'Orsay

I freakin love this museum. I would have its babies if it asked. Even if the Musee d’Orsay didn’t house my favourite Van Gogh I would still think its pretty neat.

The Musee d’Orsay is in one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris, an old railway station on the banks of the Seine. It’s a perfect museum to bring philistines to, because while you cry tears of beauty at the sculptures and impressionist paintings they can still and look at the biggy bigness that is the remodelled station.

Top tip is to go right down the back of the museum on the ground floor. They have a model of the centre of Paris (around the opera house area) with glass panels over the top, so you can actually walk over the Paris skyline and make sense of all those buildings you keep trudging past.

It also has a substantial collection of Art Nouveau furniture, including one room entirely decked out in wooden furniture (which somehow resembles a Lord of the Rings set?). Also a must to look at is the upper galleries (floor five) which has a room with so many famous impressionist paintings in it you don’t quite know where to look – everywhere you gaze is worth more than you will have in your entire life.

For me the stand-outs at the Musee d’Orsay are the sculptures in the main terminal. They are not just men in the standard heroic poses, they are women in ecstasy, stylised polar bears, boys watching animals and famous busts a plenty.

I think that more than any museum in Paris, (even more than the Museum of Modern Art coming up later) Musee d’Orsay is what it is all about & if you had to choose one art gallery in Paris to ‘do’ please make it be this one.

Oh and Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh … swoon.

Wind powered deminer

 

Functional beauty is the cry of a world in recession. We can’t afford to dream of art any more, so we fill our homes with pretty teacups and cover ourselves with meaningful tattoos. Thankfully the art world is finally catching on.

The glorious sculpture above is not only aesthetically pleasing but is actually a low cost device for setting off land-mines. Massoud Hassani based the sculpture on the memory of wind powered toys from his childhood, it is made to travel across land with GPS tracking the safe path. If it were to set off a mine, it would absorb the shock and only partially destruct.

The best part is that if it were to go into full scale production it would cost around 40USD to make – a far more affordable option than the normal minesweepers.

And without doubt, it is a thing of beauty.

Mine Kafon Wind-Powered Deminer (2011) by Massoud Hassani as seen at MOMA.

It takes quite a bit to surprise me in an art gallery, call it a by-product of spending London’s endless winter hiding in them. But Laure Prouvost’s new show (currently on at the Whitechapel gallery) did just that.

Walking in you see these odd shapes along the walls, no two the same. They look like they belong in an evil dentists surgery – dark shapes all holding out an upward facing mirror. And on each mirror is a handful of raspberries.

At first glance I thought they were either fake or real fruit that had been varnished. But on closer inspection the imperfections were just too perfect, they were real berries.

Because I was cold and hungry I was not at my most intelligent so when I approached the gallery attendant all I managed to say was “um…raspberries”. But she got the question, and said that the raspberries were replenished daily and I was more than welcome to try one.

I walked closer to the sculpture and reached out (as previously mentioned I was very hungry). But something stopped me. IT’S ART YOU CAN’T EAT IT YOU HEATHEN.

Damn that inner art critic, it stopped me getting one of my five a day.