But for some, the magic of Paris is hard to find.
I've heard grumblings that Paris is just too big,
too complicated, too crowded, too too....
That's a shame.
Because it's out there, believe me.
So here's my advice.
Don't try to "do" everything at once.
Get to know Paris one neighborhood at a time.
Search out a favorite museum, park or café chair.
Find your oeuvre, your Paris comfort zone,
and learn how to love this very loveable city.
I was just in Paris in June, one of the most tourist-crazed times of the year.
Like you, I'm not fond of getting jostled and vexed
by all the eager beavers visiting this time of year.
That said, at the busiest time of day (just after lunch),
I walked into a significant museum and found --- WIDE OPEN SPACES
with virtually no crowds or bothersome tour groups to avoid.
A destination worthy of your precious Paris time, the
Museum of Modern Art City of Paris (Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris),
may not top the guidebook list of must-see museums -- but
it fits the bill perfectly in the "heat" of tourist season.
Located in one wing of the stunning Palais de Tokyo building,
it's a destination that offers an uninhibited look into the beautiful world
of 20th century art movements and your personal chance
to capture a big whiff of the spirit of Paris.
"Modern art is defined as art created from the 19th century to the mid-20th century by artists who veered away from the traditional concepts and techniques of painting, sculpture, and other fine arts that had been practiced since the Renaissance."
Nearly every phase of modern art was initially greeted by the public with ridicule,
but as the shock wore off, the various movements settled into history,
influencing and inspiring new generations of artists.
Many part-time art lovers don't understand the difference between
Modern and Contemporary so they stay away from anything that could
possibly include distorted shapes and notions impossible to define - i.e. "weird."
They expect a big red dot in the middle of a canvas punctuated
with a hashtag mark -- or some such version of the abstract.
Nope, that's not it.
Modern Art -- the genius presented in the Museum of Modern Art Paris --
is art work that was created roughly some time between
the 1880's through the early '70's.
Contemporary Art is a completely different classification ---
works produced from about the mid-1970's through today and tomorrow.
It's arbitrary by definition but I try to think of the contrast between the two this way.
Modern Art includes the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, Cubists, Les Fauves, Expressionists, Surrealists and pop artists (that's just the short list).
It's a wide scope with something for everyone.
So if you want a taste of -- say Picasso or Matisse --
head to museums identified as Modern.
Contemporary Art is simply the art that is evolving in today's world.
From the mid-70's until now, art has re-invented itself into a myriad of ways.
If so-called issues art (AIDS awareness, globalization, bio-engineering, etc), performance art and interactivity aren't your thing, then don't worry.
It's not at this museum.
"A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions
than anything else in the world."
Edmund de Goncourt
At one time, Modern Art was considered an experiment --
definitely not an instant hit.
And just like much of today's Contemporary Art, it too was considered strange.
Style, color, technique all came into play as the new world order
took shape after the Industrial Revolution.
The new artists refused to accept the "cliches" of the past.
Realism seemed outdated in a world that seemed to spin
faster and faster with each new turn of the calendar.
Fresh ideas -- better yet, the unexpected -- became
the plat du jour of the art world.
The post-impressionists had a field day with their bold new style.
Les Fauves (the wild beasts) took it a step further and were
nearly outlawed from the "respected" galleries.
As the art world turned itself upside down and inside out,
the talent turned up at the doorstep of inspiration -- Paris.
So it's fitting to see some of the most famous artists of the day
in this gorgeous 16th arrondissement palace.
Utrillo, Bonnard, Modigliano, Braque, Picasso,
Delaunay, Léger, Dérain, Man Ray and my own personal fave,
Raoul Dufy, are just a partial list of the talent featured here.
Lucky you, lucky me.
"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."
Whoever said "beauty is in the eye of the holder" got it right.
Why do I love Raoul Dufy so much -- the same artist who was
forever criticized for being too fashionable, too commercial?
I can't begin to answer that question.
I'm not an art critic; I just like his stuff.
When it comes to art, don't question, just enjoy.
If you like your art the same way you like your cafés
(unhurried & easy-going), you'll love this museum.
No long lines, cool, wide open spaces, and FREE*.
*permanent collection only - the temporary exhibits have a fee.
The Museum of Modern Art City of Paris is one of the most enjoyable
art museums in the city and one that makes you think beyond
the typical borders of looking at pretty pictures.
After all, as we gaze at this inspired art and contemplate
its complex history, what we're now seeing is considered classic.
Back in the day, it was off-the-wall.
Perhaps it will open new doors for you, too.
My singular hope is it will remove you from this overload of
digital technology we live with day in and day out -- if only for a moment.
And there you have it.
You've found your Paris oeuvre.
Aren't you glad you didn't pre-judge "modern" art?
You, too, have caught The Spirit of Paris.
Let it happen.
11 avenue de President Wilson
Metro: Alma-Marceau or Iéna
Open Tuesday - Sunday