Tuesday, October 29, 2013

46. The Panthéon - Paris

The Pantheon was originally built as a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve and to house the reliquary chasse containing her relics but, and after many changes, it now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.

The building's history dates back to King Louis XV, who vowed in 1744 that if he recovered from his illness he would replace the ruined church of the Abbey of St Genevieve with an edifice worthy of the patron saint of Paris. He did recover, and in 1757 construction began on the re-building of the old church. The remodelled Abbey of St. Genevieve was finally completed in 1790 - coinciding with the early stages of the French Revolution.
One year later the National Constituent Assembly ordered that the building be changed from a church to a mausoleum for the interment of great Frenchmen.
When its life was that of a Christian church, the outside walls of this great temple featured large windows - some of which were lead-lighted - however when its use changed to that of a mausoleum, the windows were bricked in and large painted canvasses fixed to the walls.
The patriotic - and semi-religious - themes painted on the canvasses depict the glories of the French people.   

The inscription above the entrance reads AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE ( "To the great men, the grateful homeland" ). Interment here is severely restricted and is allowed only by a parliamentary act for "National Heroes".

Leaving the gloriously decorative main body of the building you descend down a very narrow spiral staircase into the more sombre crypt where a central passage runs the length of the building with smaller passages running off to each side, and then off those passages are dozens of rooms containing the bodies of the famous who are interred here – including Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Marie Curie, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès.



In January 2007, President Jacques Chirac unveiled a plaque in the Panthéon to more than 2600 people recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel for saving the lives of Jews who would otherwise have been deported by the Nazis to concentration camps.
Looking back towards the Eiffel Tower

Visiting the Pantheon was a very moving experience – apart from the beauty and the grandeur of the building upstairs, knowing that down in the crypt lay the remains of hundreds who have influenced the direction of this nation.

Monday, October 28, 2013

45. Centre Georges Pompidou

This very recognizable building is a high-tech multi-cultural complex museum that houses the Bibliothèque publique d'information, a vast public library, the Musée National d'Art Moderne which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe, and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research.

Nothing could be in such sharp contrast to what I have been immersing myself in over the past 3 weeks – the building + the contents + the crowd ( entry is free for under 25s so the crowd was very young and hip which was great to see ) …


Access to the top floor galleries is via a series of escalators running inside tubes up the front of the building - ( one of which wasn’t working – and why is it so hard to walk up stationary escalators ? ) … then each of the five floors has a number of galleries exhibiting different aspects of modern art.


The top level is taken up with platforms to view the skyline of Paris – magical – plus a very swanky restaurant – with single stem red roses on the white clothed tables seated at by ladies who lunch !!! … didn’t hang there for long other than to take pics …


Next level was devoted to a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition – the waiting time to get in there was an hour – and as I really don’t like his work very much I missed that floor also.

Next level was a vast auditorium that was about to present a lecture/talk by an author I didn’t know and as the entire gallery was full of very noisy excited young Parisian adults ( the art school variety ) I figured that was going to be a bit high-brow for me – plus the talk would have been in “langue française” – and mine doesn’t really go much beyond telling the person I am from Australia and do they speak English !!!! – so I skipped that floor also …

Leaving me two floors of quite exciting modern art - primarily from the twentieth century -  to occupy me for the next three or so hours . As with all modern art there is a lot to really love and be inspired by and a lot to scratch your arse, shake your head and walk away from … no exceptions here.

A la Russie, aux anes et aux autres - Marc Chagall - 1911

La Forge - Wladimir Baranoff Rossine - 1912

A Cuca - Tarsila - 1924


Marquette du Monument a la Troisieme Internationale - Vladimir Tatline - 1919

Composition Universelle - Jaoquin Torres-Garcia - 1937

Construccion No 37 - Juan Nicolas Mele - 1948
Sans Titre - Abdelkader Guermaz - 1972

Mobile noir sur noir - Julio le Parc - 1960

Pirrot Malade - Frederico Beltran Masses - 1929

Courtisane Endormie - Henry Ottmann - 1920 

Le Penne di Esopo - Pino Pascali - 1968

Untitled - Cy Twombly - 1999

... this was my favourite piece - of course - dozens of rusted lidded tins tied together with wire
and in my excitement at seeing some rust at long last I blurred the image and then forget to record the artist ... 

untitled - Didier Marcel - 1998

We stopped just here at the time - Ernesto Neto - 2002

Treppe - Magnus von Plessen - 2003

Spiders Feet - Mark Bradford - 2012

Los Remeros Vencedores de Ondarroa - Ramond de Zubiaurre - 1914

Portrait de Brancusi - Oskar Kokoschka - 1930

untitled - Georges Yakoulov - 1913

Symphonie Verte - Henry Valensi - 1935

Les Joueurs d'echecs - Marcel Duchamp - 1911

Udnie - Francis Picabia - 1913

Buste de Femme - Pablo Picasso - 1907

L'atelier - Eugene Nestor de Kermadec - 1938

Rythme - Sonia Delaunay - 1938 

Peinture ( title for both paintings ) - Pierre Daura - 1928

Un Atelier de Peintre avec une Accordeoniste - Lasar Segall - 1937

Portrait de Lucy VI - Lasar Segall - 1936

A Menino e os Bichos - Monteiro - 1925

Composition - Candido Portinari - 1945

A Cadaca - Monteiro - 1923 
Jeune Fille en Verte - Tamara de Lempicka - 1927

Apocalypse - Seraphin Soudbinine - 1921

Deux Nus - Ivan Babij - 1930

Espagne - Edmond Kuss - 1937

Tete du Taureau - Luis Fernandez - 1939

This exhibition was a delight to visit - the curating was perfect for me as it kept my enthusiasm and interest from one end of the building to the next.

There were other cultural departments of this vast building to visit - devoted to film, computer technology, literature and other creative mediums - but my head was spinning after so much colour, I took my leave from GP to get back out and wander the streets of the historical Paris that is charming me so.

Tomorrow I'm off to visit a flea market, but you're going to the Pantheon ...