Monday, November 14, 2011

Memorably Musée d'Orsay

This weekend we attended an event for the American Friends of the Musée d'Orsay, a group recently formed to help the museum raise private funding for its work.  We were particularly excited about going because we had been saving our first visit to the newly renovated and expanded Impressionist galleries so that we could see them at their best, i.e. with only 300 other people rather than the thousands typically in the galleries on any given day.

In addition, the museum had provided several of its curators to talk to the guests about specific works.  For example, we heard a discussion of Manet's Dejeuner sur l'Herbe by the curator responsible for last spring's major Manet retrospective.  Not your typical museum visit by any means.

The newly revamped café was the site for champagne and hors d'oeuvres supplied by Dalloyau and the intriguing "make your own art" gimmick was the opportunity to use tinted chocolate to color a Parisian street scene stretched out on a long table.

When the "painting" was entirely colored, a layer of white chocolate was poured on, leaving a fresh "canvas" to be painted anew.

As much fun as this part of the evening was, the true delight was seeing the galleries, newly painted in strong tones of green, gray, blue or purple, showing off the rehung and rearranged paintings to their best advantage.  The new director of the Orsay, Guy Cogeval, had had a lot of resistance to the new wall colors, but they're a wonderful background for the work.  We were asked not to photograph in the galleries, so you'll have to go see yourself.

It's unlikely you'll have them to yourself though.  That was the truly memorable part of the event.

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