Why not start off a new year with something beautiful? One of the most classic and disappointment-immune pieces of art to see if you visit Paris are Monet’s iconic paintings of water lilies, Les Nymphéas, at the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries, right near the Louvre but without its overpowering intensity.
(These pictures come from the room displaying one of Monet’s panoramic water lily paintings at MoMA in New York, as photos are not allowed inside the museum in Paris.)
There’s such a sense of peacefulness in l’Orangerie’s oval rooms, with long paintings in varying color schemes (for different times of day) all around you, and somehow without the haughtiness you might expect. If you’re lucky and are visiting on a relatively quiet day, you feel immersed in the scenes of the water’s surface as Monet must have when he was so inspired in the gardens of Giverny. It made me wonder a little bit though, how he made this as an ode to nature, and now we hold this, as an experience to come and see, as a cultural experience somehow above just going out in nature ourselves.
My other thought while sitting on the benches at the vented of the rooms and looking at the paintings, was that there seemed to be a direct connection between this and artists like Rothko, who has his own sorts of peaceful, contemplative chapels of art in several museums and collections. Rothko claimed that the intention of his simple yet subtly intense paintings was to create an emotional response in the person looking at them, which Monet also seemed to me to achieve with his prolific series of waterlily paintings. This was abstract expressionism if I’ve ever seen it.
Have you been to the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris? Did you like the paintings? Do you have any other favorite art – or things you found disappointing – in Paris?
Happy new year!