I thought I had “only” 1,234 to go, but imagine my bemusement when I opened the app this year and found that Invader had added more than 100 works, totalling 1,401: I was falling behind!
Fortunately, C.N., Sherard and Jared all got into the game and helped me add another 90 images — despite three weeks without a cell phone — bringing my Paris haul to a respectable 141, 10% of the total.
The newer works are quite varied. Some are big and bold, taking advantage of the fact that Invader is now the toast of Paris rather than someone who has to sneak around in the dark of night to put up guerrilla artworks.
Here are a couple more really big ones.
Some are rather cleverly camouflaged.
Others spell out words.
Some of the new ones are rather mysterious.
Others are just plain witty and fun.
Picard is a frozen food store, so this one is particularly apropos.
One I hadn’t seen before was right outside the window of my 2019 apartment on rue Montorgueil!
There’s only one type of the new artworks that I don’t much like. These are large composite images that spell out a sentence, somewhat like a rebus. I don’t find them artful enough.
Sherard pointed out that Invader has an Instagram account on which he posts tantalizing images of newly-added works. It’s fun.
I see from Invader’s web site that he has put up 3,776 images in 78 cities, but only in New York and Miami on the East Coast. Keep your eyes peeled when you go on vacation, however, since he’s been all around the world.
There are a surprising number of faux Invaders in Paris. Some are obviously fake but others look real to my rather experienced eye. Here, just for fun, is a rogue’s gallery of fake Invaders:
Sunday was a lovely day, sunny like every day over the last two weeks, but comfortably warm rather than scorching. Jared and I decided to take full advantage of the fine weather by going on one last day trip. We chose Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which is easily accessible by RER, and which neither of us had ever visited.
The centerpiece of the town is the impressive Renaissance château where Louis XIV — as well as many of his predecessors — was born.
While it is quite beautiful in its own way one can understand why Louis XIV wanted something even grander, hence Versailles.
After a walk in the vast forest that was used for royal hunts we circled back to the town and had lunch at a café directly across from the Château. We were pleased to find that we could eat almost as well in the provinces as we do in Paris.
The Château no longer has its original furnishings, but can be visited since it’s now the national museum of paleontology. It has a mind-boggling collection of artifacts created by prehistoric humans (including Neanderthals). Some fall into the dreaded category of “cracked pots,” but many others are beautiful and/or curious.
The museum also had a temporary exhibition on Henry II and his family, which was mildly interesting.
There are apparently other things to see in the city, such as the home of painter Maurice Denis, but we were satisfied with our trip so headed back in time for the farewell events I described in the previous post.
The deadly canicule that had been predicted really hasn’t materialized. It’s been hot, around 90 degrees, each of the last few days. But the nights have been blissfully cool, in the high 60s, so it’s been pleasant outdoors and we’ve been able to cool down the apartment enough to keep it liveable all day.
Jared spent Wednesday with one of his French friends. I slept in, then started working on my blog, which had fallen several days behind. I had breakfast and a light lunch at home, then suddenly realized that it was dinner time! I jumped on The Fork and found a highly-rated local Indian restaurant — Goa Beach — that offered a 40% discount on their already reasonable prices. They had no space on the terrace so asked me to wait at an inside table for something to open up. When a table didn’t free up quickly they just picked up my table and plunked it down on the spacious sidewalk. Pourquoi pas ? The meal was nice and the service was really friendly. I left a tip, which I don’t normally do in Paris.
Tuesday morning we got up early because we wanted to see the last day of chamber music concerts by graduating students at the Paris Conservatory of Music (the Conservatoire national supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris) at La Villette. We got there a bit late for the first one, and the last one had been canceled, but we were in time for a wonderful saxophone concert by four young women, called Ensemble Rayuela. The first piece was written for them by a fellow Conservatory student, Benoît Sitzia. Jared found it too modern but I thought it was terrific, there being no disputing about taste. We both loved the last piece, Mussorgsky’s Pictures From an Exhibition, arranged for piano and four saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone). I really wish photos were allowed since the glinting saxophones were stunning against the black outfits of the four performers.
After our last musical experience in Paris this year we strolled through the Parc de La Villette to the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie for an exhibition on the TGV, the French high speed train, which has held the world speed record of 357 MPH since 2007. (Normal TGV trains run “only” up to 200 MPH.) The exhibit was interesting but not amazing. My favorite thing was this near-life-size art piece, which was in strange contrast to the modernity and obsessive safety of the TGV itself.
After the exhibit that had drawn us in we had the first poor meal I’ve had in Paris this year in the museum’s sad restaurant. I had to put in my ear plugs to deal with the hordes of screaming children! After lunch we wandered about but didn’t see much that was compelling until after Jared left; then I did enjoy interactive exhibits on sound and on the mind, and a presentation on robots. The museum is primarily for children, but if you remember your ear plugs there are also some exhibits of interest to adults.
After the museum I took the tram over to Porte des Lilas where I jumped off to snap a Space Invader, then stayed to get a haircut. I passed up several places offering 10 euro haircuts on the theory that you get what you pay for, but had a very nice cut, and a pleasant experience, at a place that charged me 19 euros. Once again, softie that I am, I left a tip!
At 8 pm I met Jared at the Château de Vincennes and we walked over to the absolutely stunning apartment of a French friend he had met in Boston a few years back. Yves and his partner made us a delightful summery meal, which we enjoyed on their balcony overlooking the treetops of the Bois de Vincennes.
After solving the problems of life, love, culture and politics with Yves and his friends, Jared and I went home on the métro, threw open the windows, and had a good night’s sleep.
Conveniently, the Beaux-Arts exhibit was just a few blocks along the Seine. Canicule or not, the view of the Pont des Arts was still quite gorgeous.
It was a pleasure to be greeted by Lucas in the lobby, and he graciously let me take this photograph of him with his paintings.
After chatting with Lucas for a few minutes I explored the rest of the show.
A few pieces by other recent graduates caught my eye.
Finally, as I was walking down the stairs to leave I noticed these interesting sculptures by Koong Shengqi on the landing. The only caption I saw referred to them as Théâtre Anatomique but I’m not sure whether that referred to only one of them.
After the Beaux-Arts show I headed across the river to meet Jared and another friend he had met during his college year abroad. Ari is from New York but he fell in love with Paris during his own year abroad and moved here permanently after graduating from NYU. I was delighted when he proposed dinner at Champeauxboth because I like it and because I would be able to use another 1,000 La Forchette/The Fork “Yums” to et us a 10 euro discount. The food and wine were exactly the same as my previous two meals there: perfectly nice.
This time the manager’s greeting was very warm but the service was spotty, the opposite of my first visit. My 10 euro discount wasn’t reflected on the original bill but the manager quickly rectified the problem. Despite the glitches it was once again an overall good experience, for a quite reasonable price.
After dinner Jared and Ari asked for a picture together so I posed them in front of the nearby listening head sculpture, Ecoute.
Jared and I walked Ari back to his neighborhood, near Bastille, then took the (air conditioned) line 5 back home.
A terrific show of the impressionist art of Berthe Morisot opened at the Musée d’Orsay last week. Morisot was a friend and colleague of many of the most famous impressionist artists, such as Manet, Monet, Degas and Renoir. I find her work to be in the same league, so I suspect that her reputation was a victim of sexism, especially since her subject matter was often more domestic and “feminine” than that of her male peers. She also died rather young, at 54.
Both Jared and Eugène were also interested, so we met at the museum on Tuesday morning. I slowed them down with all my picture taking, but they were gracious. After the show we had a satisfactory lunch in the fifth floor café. Eugène headed out to an appointment while Jared and I saw the Modèle Noir exhibition that I had also seen with Sherard, then explored the permanent collection (all the while enjoying the rather good a/c).
Here are a dozen Morisot paintings that I particularly liked, but I strongly recommend going to the show if you’re able. Many of the works are in private collections, so there may never be another opportunity to see them.
There is also a nice room of paintings by Morisot at the Musée Marmottan-Monet, which Eugène and I visited a few weeks back.
Jared spent Monday with a French friend he has known since his college year here, so I headed over to the Palais de Tokyo to see their summer show. This was one of the three main reasons I stayed to the end of June this year, along with the fête de la musique and Paris Pride. In prior years the Palais de Tokyo has sometimes been absolutely stunning, and Jackie and I enjoyed the spring show. But while I found a few things to like in the summer show, overall I wouldn’t strongly encourage anyone to go. (Also, the air conditioning wasn’t that good.)
Most everything in the show was in the aesthetic category that I call “messy,” that is a lot of stuff jumbled together. Here are two examples of messy art in this show that I viscerally disliked.
But while I would have said that I don’t like “messy” art, some of the works in this show that I did like were equally “messy.” My aesthetic category may be incoherent as well as idiosyncratic!
This orca whale could hardly have been messier, but the assemblage had a certain appeal and the detail was interesting.
While these strippers were pretty messy they had a distinct appeal, especially when you noticed how the mirrors were being used.
The stairway down to the lower level was, cartoony but striking.
One of my favorite rooms contained these witty “outsider art” sculptures. A pano didn’t work so I just caught a few of them in two shots. Each sculpture rewarded a closer look.
A pop-up café with wearable “alien” helmets was silly, and certainly messy, but in all honesty also fun.
I had a juice drink at the café although the server didn’t have straws that would fit through my helmet.
As I finish this post I have to admit that I did enjoy several parts of the show. I think I’ve been spoiled a bit by past years when Palais de Tokyo was truly incredible.
Tuesday was yet another beautiful day! I had enjoyed a day trip to Chantilly in 2014 so I was amenable when Jared suggested it. The basics of the visit are covered in my earlier post; this is a grab bag of additional things I noticed on my second visit. Photos from both visits are in my Day Trips to Chantilly Photo Set.
Chantilly is in Picardy so you buy your ticket from the Grands Lignes machines even though the fast train from Gare du Nord takes only 23 minutes; overall it was just an hour from our apartment to the Gare de Chantilly-Gouvieux. The tourist information office wasn’t where the guidebook said, so it took us a few minutes to get oriented, but once we got our bearings we navigated without further incident. It’s a lovely half-hour walk through the forest to the Château.
This visit to the Château was enhanced by the fact that Jared looked closely at each room and often read the captions. We also both got the excellent free audio guide, which I had skipped last time. So here are several items I had slighted in 2014.
Of course I recalled that there was an art gallery but I hadn’t remembered how large or good it was. Our meticulous pace enhanced my appreciation of the collection, as did my growing knowledge of art.
Two of my favorite kings:
And just to prove that my aesthetic sense is Catholic, here are two paintings from a temporary exhibition.
After lunch at the correct, although predictably overpriced, restaurant we explored the extensive gardens and topped off our afternoon with a treat.
Chantilly is whipped cream, but it’s very thick and rich — almost like butter!
One of several paradoxes we noted during the day is the fact that the Hameau (hamlet), although completely bogus when it was constructed, is now an authentic historical treasure.
Jared arrived on Sunday afternoon. All went well once we resolved the communications SNAFU described in my previous post. Like C.N. and Sherard before him, Jared is a keen walker, so after he got settled in we went for a stroll. There are many attractive destinations nearby: the Jardin des Plantes, rue Mouffetard and the one we chose, Buttes-aux-Cailles. Flâneurs that we are, we mostly followed our noses instead of a dusty old map. We were rewarded first with an enormous vide-greniers — acollective tag sale.
There were many treasures for sale, including these African items that looked like they could be in the Musée du quai Branly.
What particularly caught our eye, however, was this mysterious wall plaque, which unfortunately wasn’t for sale.
After escaping the crush of the vide-greniers we noticed some balloons next to an open door and were pleased to find that we had caught the tail end of an open studio weekend for the 5ème and 13èmearrondissements under the rubric of Lézarts de la bièvre — lézarts being a jeu de mots between lézard (lizard) and les arts (the arts), while La Bièvre (literally “Beaver River”) is a little river that wound northward to the Seine through the two arrondissements but over the centuries has “disappeared under rubble and urbanization.” We got a map and visited several studios. We got into some charming conversations with artists but frankly didn’t see anything that particularly excited our artistic sensibilities. Another year I may try to do these open studios more systematically.
As we continued to explore the area south of Place de l’Italie, which I have slighted in prior years, we stumbled on Square des Peupliers (Square of the Poplars), an extremely quiet and cute little neighborhood.
Jared followed the same strategy that had succeeded so well for me when I arrived this year: Keep awake until at least 8 pm, then sleep for as long as you like. I whipped together a quick dinner from items I had on hand (after overcoming a confusing situation caused by using the wrong size pan on our induction stove top) and Jared crashed at 9 pm.
Friday and Saturday had been quite nice, with just a bit of rain. It really started getting nice, however — le beau temps ! — when Jared arrived. Since then it’s been short pants every day. Finally!
Mots du jour: I had considered vide-greniers and brocante to be interchangeable, but I see now that a vide-greniers is a collective tag sale where ordinary people sell anything and everything, while a brocante is a temporary non-food market where full time or part time professionals sell used items. A marché aux puces is basically a brocante with permanent stalls.
The Musée Marmottan Monet is a bit of a hodge-podge. Marmottan, father and son, collected medieval and Renaissance art, post-Revolutionary art and furniture, and lots of other stuff. The son willed the property to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, under which many donations were accepted, most significantly quite a few works of Claude Monet, donated by his son, Michel. The problem as I see it is that the best work by Monet had already been scooped up by other museums, notably the Musée d’Orsay, leaving lesser or more personal works for this museum; the main reason to visit it is if you’re interested in an exhibition. Eugène and I wanted to see their current exhibition, “Oriental Visions, From Dreams Into Light,” so we headed over on Saturday afternoon. It was worth a look, and I also enjoyed a few items from the permanent collection. First and foremost were two paintings by Ingres.
There were lots of other bathing beauties, which felt derivative and repetitive, but Eugène pointed out the amusing caption on the “fantasy scene” shown below: “No woman, not even a prostitute, would show herself this way in the street, smiling seductively, with her breasts on display.”
I did quite like these two paintings, both of which show mastery in their portrayal of sun and shade:
Many of the paintings depicted Morocco or Algeria, which aren’t to my way of thinking “oriental,” but Eugène explained that the term is being used to refer to anything exotically foreign.
It said something, however, that my favorite painting in the exhibition was the one below, which bears no resemblance — except in its title –to anything else in the exhibition.