Tuesday 6 December
We had a list of Monday closings but now it was Tuesday in Paris and time to catch up with galleries, restaurants, shops, life.
Not far away is La Passage de Retz, a former toy factory but now a gallery for contemporary art. This turned out to be simple, abstract collages from ripped paper by two artists whose names I can’t remember which is a bit shameful as we liked their work. I was even more taken by the building. From the main gallery space was a zinc, spiral staircase leading to a balcony. Steve tried to convince me it would not look right in our 16th century farmhouse but I’m not so sure.
Chloe and Videl went to see Musée de la Chasse when they were staying here. We wouldn’t have considered visiting a museum of hunting but I trusted their judgment so we dutifully shot along. (Any metaphor I chose suggested hunting or animals: shot, trotted, flew, galloped, skulked, prowled, crept – funny). The museum was quite amazing. Unusual avante garde art was on display amongst stuffed animals (Scary, Theo would say) and traditional paintings; there were exquisite wooden cupboards with drawers that opened to show animal poo and other curios; you could press buttons and hear bird song. We spent ages surprisingly mesmerized by hunting displays.
Did much wandering around discovering strangely, quiet places and quietly, strange places. (I wish I’d said this but I’m quoting from an art book.) Then on to a less quiet place : Musée des Arts Decoratifs. I’d imagined this would be small but I was wrong. Fortunately we had a fortifying lunch there at Le Saint de Loup. We could have seen decorative arts from medieval times but decided to concentrate on the 20th century. We enjoyed designer chairs from 1960 onwards accompanied by film extracts where the furniture had appeared. We had sat in similar Eames chairs while visiting friends recently. We should have been filmed.
Most extraordinary was the retrospective exhibition of Jean Paul Gorde’s work – a flamboyant icon of fashion, advertising, photography. The centerpiece was a giant locomotive, installed because of Gorde’s celebrations for the bi-centenary of the French Revolution. There were videos from the display with Margaret Thatcher looking entertained.
We checked out Colette, because everyone says you should. Expensive and boring. Give me a department store like Merci.
Finished the day at a concert in Notre Dame of Renaissance songs. Haunting music.
Well – didn’t quite finish the day at Notre Dame but stopped at Café Charlot for ear wagging and drinks. Fastly spoken French sounds so intense I can’t believe these conversations aren’t about existentialism and the meaning of life.