January 14, 2014

Postcard from Paris: Crowds gather to view last day of Kahlo-Rivera exhibit at Musée de l'Orangerie

The Golden Sphere, Jardin des Tuileries
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

PARIS - I had not anticipated that while I idly photographed James Lee Byars' "Golden Sphere" (1992-2012) in the center of the fountain of the Jardin des Tuileries that dozens of visitors were lining up for the last day of the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit, Art in Fusion, at the Musée de l'Orangerie.

After 45 minutes standing outside in the cold that must be ignored (an ambulance arrived to pick up a woman who had collapsed near the front of the line), hanging up my winter coat, and subtly protecting my place in the ticket line from encroachers, the cashier told me that she had run out of six-day Paris Museum Passes. The cost of a two day and a four day pass -- her available inventory -- would cost a total of 98 euros, almost 50 percent more. I deliberately held up the line, waiting for her to make an offer, she didn't, and so, just so I could get her response for you, I made the suggestion: "You could sell me the two-day and the four-day pass for the same price since I waited to purchase the six-day pass." And her response: "I am not a manager, I cannot make that decision."
Long line waiting for museum to open
I wasn't in California where I would have demanded to speak to her supervisor, so I just let it go -- we were, after all, in Paris. Next time I plan to speak very loudly in my awkward French and see if the customer service improves.

The Kahlo-Rivera exhibit told the story of the couple's dramatic and estranged relationship, showed the influence Spain and France had on his work, how physical and emotional pain influenced hers. In 1939, Kahlo and Rivera visited Paris:
Frida goes to Paris where she takes part in the "Mexique" exhibition, organised by Breton and Duchamp at the Galerie REnou & Colle. she meets a number of Surrealist painters, as well as Picasso, but is very disappointed with Parisian intellectual circles. At the end of the year, she and Diego are divorced. [From the exhibit]
The exhibit had detailed how he had slept with her sister, and she had suffered through numerous miscarriages. Right by this plaque was a "Portrait de Frida Kahlo dormant" (1939) by photographer and painter Dora Maar (1907-1997), Picasso's former muse and lover, who had suffered depression when the relationship with Pablo ended.

I cleansed my artistic palate with a visit to Monet's Water Lilies (a sign clearly stated no phones or cameras) under natural sunlight. The museum's audio guide described the efforts to protect Monet's masterpiece:

When the Water Lilies were inaugurated in 1927, Impressionism was no longer fashionable and the public did not flock to see Monet's masterpiece. Then, after years of neglect, these rooms were the most damaged by shells during the liberation of Paris. Their renovation in the 1960s modified the original design, notably doing away with the anteroom and replacing it with a staircase. But the work undertaken between 2000 and 2006 restored them to their original splendor and they are now as Monet originally imagined them.