Paris seems to outlast, outshine and outclass
just about every other city in the world.
How do they do it???
Paris practically sizzles, knowing exactly when and how to flaunt it.
Fait accompli, this centuries old gal still has "it," a genuine
triumph in a world that's always looking for the next new thing.
Exactly how does this grande dame eclipse every other star in the sky?
I believe it comes down to the ability to re-invent herself -- again and again.
Through sheer force of will, this bright-eyed city presses forward, determined
not to rest on yesterday's laurels, stepping up & raising the bar year after year.
Case in point: Consider the ever-popular Musée d'Orsay.
As one of the premiere art treasuries in the City of Light, this museum, much like the city in which it resides, is a definite upgrade over her more humble beginnings.
Well located from birth, the dramatic stone edifice faces the Seine,
staring at its chief rival the Louvre, prestigiously positioned
just across the way on the "right" side of town.
And while the Louvre was once the center of power in Paris, home to kings,
queens and eventually beautiful celebrities with names like Mona Lisa
and Venus de Milo, the Musée d'Orsay began as a
simple railroad station built at the turn of the 20th century.
Transforming a simple train depot into one of the most sought after
art repositories in the world is really a story of Paris and her ability to
strike a balance between modern and traditional.
It's the ultimate story of re-invention, a watershed moment
in the enrichment and upgrade of an ever evolving city.
updated terminals, the Gare d'Orsay was sadly abandoned just 60 years
after its auspicious launch at the 1900 World's Fair.
Developers hoped to demolish the architecturally magnificent Beaux Arts address.
Their plan called for a modern makeover -- targeted as a possible locale for a
luxury hotel or modern office building with a contemporary 1970's style.
But Paris was having none of that, having learned a hard lesson
from the destruction of Les Halles and the public's
unceasing cry of regret that soon followed.
Thankfully, the more culturally adept of France's brain trust prevailed and the building became temporary headquarters for an auction house and
a small theatre company while new plans were drawn for its future,
insuring its most historical architectural elements would remain intact.
By 1986, the disused railroad station became the new star of the
Paris landscape, reborn as one of the most iconic must-sees of the city.
The Musée d'Orsay not only cemented Paris' remarkable hold
on the world's collection of art, it became art in its own right.
And for once, the traditionalists, the progressives and the capitalists all won,
each divergent group victorious, turning a world-class idea into a sure-footed reality.
I cannot imagine Paris without the Musée d'Orsay just as one
cannot picture a more perfect setting for the art this museum holds.
Paris pulls off the impossible -- again.
Just when it seems like all the best ideas are taken, the city strikes gold.
Their ingenuous strategy pulled together a cohesive collection
comprised of the modern art revolution, gathering all the
artistic styles that evolved from 1848 to 1914.
Art movements such as Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism,
Art Nouveau, and Symbolism were spread out among disjointed outlets
such as the Jeu de Paume, the Musée Luxembourg and
even some dust-gathering storerooms of the Louvre.
With their rejuvenated train-station-turned-world-class-museum,
everyone's favorite paintings now had one home, displayed magnificently
under one gorgeous iron & glass barrel vaulted ceiling.
Magnificent lighting and thoughtful positioning enhance the art
striking a precise balance between modern and traditional.
Your heart will melt at the sheer beauty as you marvel over the collection.
I know of no other museum that does a better job of holding you captive while making your imagination fly free, unabated by achy feet and too much stuff.
The famous "Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe," the Manet painting
that started the whole modern movement.
From Degas' little dancers.... to Toulouse-Lautrec's despondent
prostitutes.... and the Pointillists' diminutive dabs of color,
the Musée d'Orsay's collection dazzles like no other.
Vincent van Gogh's haunting landscapes divined from his time in a mental
hospital.... Gauguin's Tahitian Garden of Eden... and Renoir's dreamy
sun-dappled luncheons take you on an Alice in Wonderland adventure.
From Rodin's unforgettable sculptures to drool-worthy art nouveau
furniture you'll want to ship home,
if you can't find something you like here you must be brain-dead.
The Musée d'Orsay is surely the best makeover ever.
They've thought of everything.... except maybe
Paul Newman's eyes and two scoops of Berthillon....
for a far different -- and sinister -- reason.
For many years, a french Holocaust survivor fought for the return of
a Nazi-looted Pissarro original that once hung in her family home.
"Shepherdess Bringing in the Sheep," painted by Camille Pissarro in 1886,
will grace French soil once again, some eighty years after its theft.
In quite a convoluted story, the painting somehow ended up in University of Oklahoma's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (by totally legal, innocent means)
after going through the unsavory hands of the Nazi art thieves during WWII.
The university and Musée d'Orsay will trade "ownership,"
most likely making the swap about every five years.
Ironically, Camille Pissarro was a Jew so the Nazi war machine
would have considered anything he painted "degenerate art"
though they were more than happy to rip off its Jewish owners,
the Meyer family of Galeries Lafayette fame.
The surviving family member -- adopted daughter Léone Meyer -- whose
own (birth) family perished in Auschwitz -- is said to be particularly happy
the history of the piece will now be known across the globe.
Justice well served.
And across the street, it's said, Mona Lisa's smile just got bigger....
hours searching for just the right serum and undergarments -- the city of
Paris seems to have found the right formula for an aging "fixer-upper."
If only I had a little Monet or Cezanne to hang from my ears, perhaps I could
steer my golden years in the right direction.... certainly a shade brighter.
Paris city planners outfitted an obsolete train station
and turned it into a glam-tastic treasury of art.
And thanks to them, with a new shade of lipstick and a fresh
pair of walking shoes, I feel renewed just by marching
through their doors into one of my favorite museums in Paris.
Talk about a life altering makeover,
the Musée d'Orsay is surely the best facelift ever.
So get out there -- and as Bill Haley shouted,
Put your glad-rags on and rock around the clock tonight!
Hats off to all you imaginative art lovers out there.
Enjoy the view!