Thursday, June 5, 2014

Musée d'Orsay, Seoul

When Anne mentioned that she wanted to see the impressionist paintings that were visiting from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, my memories flashed back to walking around in the Tuileries Garden and seeing Monet's "Water Lilies" for the first time. That was such a happy day - sunshine, good company, and beautiful artwork. Turns out I was remembering the Musée de l'Orangerie, but the Musée d'Orsay is on the opposite side of the Tuileries Garden, housing impressionist and post-impressionist work in the marvelously restored train station. That day, our super-intense-awesome tour guide Joelle led us through the museum. Equally happy day.

Joelle and the Louvre, Me and Candice with a lightpost
sprouting from our combined awesomeness

Anyway, the timing didn't work out for a couple of weeks, but we finally made it to the National Museum of Korea, where the impressionist paintings from France would be and will be displayed until August 31st. The exaggerated, poppy flower-lined stairway from the subway station to the museum prefaced the atmosphere up at the museum. Korea has this wonderful way of making everything delightfully comfortable. From convenience store straws for one's milk to the fancy coffee machines at most places of business to the lovely, motivational stationary, there is an overall feeling of ease and gentle thoughtfulness in Korea. 

What made this exhibition so special was the idea of the Musée d'Orsay in Seoul. It wasn't regarded as a visiting exhibition within the National Museum of Korea but as a faction of the famous museum in Korea. There are two sides of the National Museum from what I saw. One side for the special exhibitions and the other for the permanent collections, both with their own outside, main entrance. The Musée d'Orsay, Seoul, had its own entrance. "You are entering the Musée d'Orsay" was the feeling walking under the museum name plate and through the doors. 

Once inside, the flurry of people and the need for paper ticket numbers to get into the the exhibition hall was knowing. Yes, everyone understood how important and exciting this was -- these are works by some of the best-known artists from one of the best-loved art movements. It made me happy to be in a room full of people who felt the same way I did, as I perceived. It reminded me so much of being back in Paris, a city that appreciates and embraces creativity. 

Anne and I splurged and got the audio tour. The English was definitely a translation of the Korean audio -- cute, overly descriptive language "starry stars" made the experience exceptionally enjoyable. It's difficult to describe but the exhibition had a Korean-style about it. Whoever was in charge of the design did excellent work. The wall colors in the different sections (deep blood pink and lavender are the two that I remember) within the exhibition hall worked remarkably well with the pieces, being as bold the colors they were. 

My favorite piece from the show was a Van Gogh, a portrait of Eugène Boch. I thought it was a self portrait at first; the deep, darkly bright sky behind the figure is in stunning contrast to the colors and style of painted Eugène Boch. The boundary between two planes - the figure and the background - has stuck with me. Some early film made an appearance: "Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory" (1895) and "Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat" (1895) brought a smile from my film studies courses. There were also a series of pieces highlighting the Eiffel Tower. Some photographs, prints, and paintings, Anne really liked them and I just wasn't sure how I felt. They were pictures of the Eiffel Tower as I've never seen it. More intruding than the typically romantic visions of the tower, I know that it is a huge piece of metal, but I couldn't take to the red-glow and devious feel of the Eiffel Tower. 

I bought a postcard of that particular Eiffel Tower piece to give it more thought. I like that it was different from what I've seen before. The gift shop was fun. We talked about how long we were in there - a good couple of hours, maybe a bit more; it is nice to be able to take a gift-shopped version of the artwork. All from the Musée d'Orsay, another detail that is perhaps common in visiting exhibitions but that made me excited again. "It's from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris!" 

The collaboration was there. Beyond the artists and the artwork and the famous French museum, here are two countries that came together to present this work out of its home country. That was amazing and beautiful to me, and it really added something to the exhibit. It did matter that I was looking at and thinking about and experiencing these pieces in Korea. 

A fantastic afternoon plus evening full of art and life talk :: 

Shot by the likes

No comments:

Post a Comment