Sunday, 26 August 2007
A day in Beaubourg
August 26, 2007
Wow! What a day. We began by attending service at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. It was kind of bizarre, the entrance was guarded with armed soldiers. It was a modern church with quite the international flair. Many Asian and African people. The priest was Irish. The organ put out a cartoonish sound which we all sang along to as if everthing were normal. It certainly wasn’t St. Monica St. George, but it helped get us into a type of routine (okay and it encouraged me to toss up a prayer).
After lunch, we headed to the Pompidou Center where we hoped we’d see a few spectacles (freak shows). Sean and I were both hoping to see the fat man who walked on glass and breathed fire (he was around in the 80’s) or at least a diablo juggler as Quinn is quite the diabo afficianado. But alas, he was (dead and ?) gone, and artists had taken up his spot.
We enter the Pompidou Center (Centre Georges Pompidou or Beaubourg), and I am disappointed that we can’t ascend the exterior escalators which are really cool, without buying a ticket to the museum. I ignore my usual inclination to do only free things, and suggest we actually buy tickets to the museum and exhibition. Even though I’ve only ever come to see the building itself or the entertainment out front, I figure, it is a museum after all, and hopefully something interesting will show itself. If not, it’s a $15.00 escalator ride with a good view of Paris.
The escalator ride is wonderful and does reveal beautiful views of Notre Dame, la Tour Eiffel and Sacre Coeur. My son was very eager to capture the images on his digital camera (a cheap one).
The first floor had the work of Messager which involved very large stuffed vinyl body parts which were individually bagged in some sort of netting. The body parts were hung from the ceiling involving a system of pullies which would randomly send the parts falling to the floor. Trippy. There is a feast for the eyes on the second floor - I’m actually pleased to have bought my ticket. Then I realize there is a third floor and I dash up quickly to see if it’s “worth it” because my kids are getting tired and hungry. I turn a corner and there it is-
An entire room filled with Matisse’s work! Not only Matisse paintings and a sculpture, but Matisse cutouts! The originals! I can’t believe it! I love Matisse! Having been a French teacher, I taught students about Matisse and how he created cutouts when he got older because it was too hard for him to paint tableaux with oil. He would paint sheets of paper with colorful guache, let them dry and then cut forms out of the paper. He would arrange the colorful shapes and glue them on canvas to create beautiful abstract pieces. I ran down and found my husband and kids and told them they must come and see the Matisse pieces. Sharing my enthusiasm, the kids took many pictures of Matisse’s cutouts (after turning the flash off, of course). I still can’t believe it. Images of the cutouts reproduced in books show neither the depth and variation of color, nor the brushstrokes in the painted sheets. I truly sound like a Matisee groupie now, but it was such a thrill to see the cutouts “live” .
Before heading out of the Centre, I scurried down the hall to finish off this floor and to see what else it had to offer. My goodness, Kandinsky, duBuffet, and very near and dear to me were a couple of Marc Chagall paintings with their magical blues and the married couple motif.
Truly a destination in itself, the ticket for the Pompidou Center was worth every one of its 10 Euros, and I’m even counting on going back. (I will, of course, check first to see if there is a free day.)
We finally sat down and had crepes at Creperie Sarrazin next to the colorful fountain with whimsical spinning art. A tasy finish to the day.
But wait, a second time passing Pompidou center reveals not the fat man, but at least some street theatre. A man begins to do Diablo performance art. He motioned for us to step back and to watch his performance. He did creative things with not one, but two diablos. He then took out a softball sized glass ball and did magical spinny things with it. Our kids were mesmerized. I fell off my usual tight wallet and gave the man 3 or 4 euros. It was well worth it. Plus, I feel like I’m paying back for the entertainment I saw in the eighties and rarely paid for.
I was very happy to show the kids a piece of the Paris I fell in love with in 1986.