Planning for Paris

In my opinion, the best way to stick to a New Year’s resolution is to commit on New Year’s Eve, whether that’s signing up for a marathon, or perhaps purchasing airfare to that bucket-list locale you’ve been dreaming of. In this case, Paris. This Spring, the husband and I will be jetting off to Paris for the first time. With one-week to explore the City of Light, we’ll be focusing our travels within the city, or nearby. While the husband researches airbnb’s and can’t-miss restaurants, this art historian is making sure our travel itinerary is well stocked with museums, and sights featured in favorite impressionist oeuvres.

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Though I’d love to see every museum Paris has to offer, I plan on saving plenty of time for simply enjoying the city. Paris Museum Pass to the rescue. Available as 2, 4 or 6 day Passes, the Museum Pass gains your access to 60 museum & monuments, let’s you skip the lines, and does away with the guilt of only popping in a museum for a moment, without seeing everything.

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Just west of the historic core, Musée d’Orsay features the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist (this gal’s favorite period) masterpieces in the world, from Monet to Cézanne.

2A short stroll from Musée d’Orsay, and through Tuileries Garden, the Orangerie is home to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. The eight immersive compositions occupy two consecutive rooms, flooded with natural light, per Monet’s own recommendation.

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I relish the chance to see artists’ creative spaces. Enter Musée Rodin. I am equally excited to see the mansion where Rodin lived and worked, as I am to search the gardens for the sculptor’s renowned works, such as The Thinker.

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According to the all-knowing Rick StevesMusée Marmottan holds the largest collection of Monet’s work, in an “intimate, and untouristy” setting.

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With an immense collection, from ancient works through mid-19th century, the Louvre is quick to overwhelm. The museum’s greek statuary collection, like the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace are at the top of my list, and perhaps a quick peek at the Medieval and Renaissance works, from Giotto to Raphael (basically a real-life stroll through an Art History 102 textbook). On the other hand, I DO NOT plan to waste time battling the crowds for a glance at the Mona Lisa.

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Not only is Palais Garnier the subject of one of my favorite works, Raoul Dufy’s The Opera, Paris, but it is also beautiful in its own right, most notably the auditorium, the house curtain created by theatrical painters Auguste Rube (1817-1899) and Philippe Chaperon (1823-1906), and the ceiling painted by Marc Chagall.

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A marvel of 13th-century gothic architecture, Sainte-Chapelle features stunning displays of stained-glass. A short walk along the Seine River brings you to Notre-Dame, for a look at the church’s facade, or perhaps a climb up the tower.

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Though usually deemed a ‘tourist trap,’ you can’t deny the beautiful views and bohemian charm of Montmartre. Though we’ll probably skip the high priced crepes & Moulin Rouge scene, I look forward to a hike to Sacré-Cœur Basilica, and to get lost along Montmartre’s cobbled and historic streets, from Place du Tertre lined with artists, to Bateau Lavoire at #13 Place Emile-Goudeau, Picasso’s studio, & at times, home to other prominent figures of the Belle Époque, like Braque & Modigliani.

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Just an hour outside of Paris lies Giverny, the site of Claude Monet’s home and gardens, and the subject of many of the impressionist’s works. Giverny is a mandatory day trip in my opinion, and has been on my ‘Life List’ as long as I can remember.

If time allows, there are plenty of other museums that we may squeeze into the itinerary: Centre PompidouArmy Museum & Napoleon’s TombMusée de ClunyMusée PicassoMusée Carnavalet.

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Happy Easter!

Joseph Cornell, Laurel's Rabbit, 1971, drawing

Joseph Cornell, Laurel’s Rabbit, 1971, drawing

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Elaine de Kooning: Portraits

Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Elaine de Kooning (1918 – 1989) (born Elaine Marie Fried) works on a series of portraits of President John F. Kennedy in her studio, New York, New York, 1964. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

I am absolutely dying to visit The National Portrait Gallery’s current exhibition, Elaine de Kooning: Portraits, curated by Brandon Brame Fortune, the Portrait Gallery’s chief curator and senior curator of painting and sculpture. I have had an obsession with the portraits of Elaine de Kooning, specifically her male portraits, since graduate school. The expressive and immense figures of men, which emerge from the canvases of artist Elaine de Kooning, are a stunning snapshot of the male figures, famous and unknown, of the New York art scene of the early to mid-twentieth century.

Elaine de Kooning was a dynamic force in the New York School, known for her beauty, artistic talent, and confident nature. She quickly formed connections throughout the abstract expressionist circle, including with artist Willem (Bill) de Kooning, Elaine’s future teacher, husband and friend. Though a prominent figure within the New York artists’ circle, as well as a prolific writer, art critic and artist herself, Elaine was often overshadowed by her husband Bill, as well as the other male abstract expressionist who dominated the art world. Though Elaine explored numerous themes within her paintings, portraits of the male figure seemed to persist throughout her career, abetted by her access to numerous male figures in the New York art circle.

Elaine de Kooning

Elaine de Kooning was one of the few abstract expressionists, as well as one of the only women, who explored the subject of male portraiture during the mid-twentieth century. Yet, rather than allow portraiture to limit her artistic direction, ‘E de K’ used her subjects to reveal the inner characters of the important male figures of post-World War II America, and expand the subject matter of Abstract Expressionism.

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Radio Silence

After a rather long radio silence, my thoughts have returned to Good Old Modern. This past year has been a busy one, and I quickly came to realize that my attention could only be pulled in so many directions.

Last October, I completed my 2014 New Years resolution to finally run my first marathon. I had no idea how EXHAUSTING marathon training would be, both physically and mentally. During seven months of training, my weekends were quickly reduced to long run. eat. sleep. But, would I do it again? Definitely. The race was exhilaratinggorgeous Lakefront views, the support from runners and spectators, and the pride of crossing the finish line.

Marathon Starting LineMarathon Prep

In other news, this Winter, the husband and I moved from our Downtown Milwaukee apartment, to a sweet little Tudor house, in beautiful condition, but in need of plenty of cosmetic help (so. much. wallpaper.)

First House

Currently on the hunt for some artistic inspiration for the color palette in our house—feeling especially drawn to the soft blue and lilac hues of Matisse’s The Knife Thrower (Le Lanceur de couteaux) from Jazz.

The Knife Thrower (Le Lanceur de couteaux) from Jazz Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954), The Knife Thrower (Le Lanceur de couteaux) from Jazz, 1947, One from a portfolio of twenty pochoirs

Henri Matisse, The Knife Thrower (Le Lanceur de couteaux) from Jazz, 1947, one from a portfolio of twenty pochoirs

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Latest Love: Louis le Brocquy

Louis le Brocquy, Army massing, 1969 lithograph on Swiftbrook paper

Though an admirer of Louis le Brocquy’s paintings, I had never before come across the artist’s print-work. Throughout his life, le Brocquy collaborated with a number of Irish writers, including his friends Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. After happening upon one of the artist’s most notable collaborations, le Brocquy’s lithographic brush drawings for Thomas Kinsella’s The Táin of 1969, I was immediately taken with the beautifully simplistic and calligraphic forms. The Táin includes one hundred and thirty-three black and white drawings detailing Ireland’s proto-historic past, printed on Swiftbrook Paper Mills, Co., reproduced by line block, printed by Dolmen Press, Dublin, limited edition of 1,750 copies.

Louis le Brocquy, Macha pleading, 1969 lithograph on Swiftbrook paper

Louis le Brocquy, Death of Fraech, 196 lithograph on Swiftbrook paper

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Latest Love: Jennifer Ament

After spotting an image of Jennifer Ament’s recent show at Maison Luxe in Seattle, I was immediately hooked. The beautiful prints and paintings of artist Jennifer Ament, seem to be popping up everywhere lately, from my favorite Instagram accounts to the Art Collection of Serena & Lily. Ament’s most recent series, Underwater Plant Life, is truly stunning. I’m already picturing a gallery wall featuring row upon row of the delicate undulating plants (I especially love the artist’s choice of black matting and gold frames in displaying the series, as seen at Serena & Lily). I am also drawn to the series of paintings featured at Maison Luxe, described by Ament on the artist’s blog Art & Lair:

My wall of Watercolors, Original Ink on Paper, and Collage were a year in the making. My inspiration came from planets not yet discovered, the galaxy surrounding us, and the insides of Minerals.

Jennifer Ament, Agate Moon

Jennifer Ament, Moon Waves I

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