On Tuesday, I went to two of the coolest places that most people don't go to in Paris.
In the morning, I went to the Maison Victor Hugo. It's an apartment he lived in for many years, which is very cool. Beneath that, there is an art gallery with art of and by his family (his grandson was a great artist), letters to his grandchildren, and art inspired by his work. And it's free. It's a very pleasant and insightful hour at the beautiful Place de Vosges.
Victor Hugo was a likeable guy. Not that I knew him, of course, but in all of the statues and paintings of Victor as an old man, you can see it. He's weary, and tough, but he was loved. It's amazing how that can shine through a 130-year-old painting.
Note to self: if ever want to make esoteric films, use street cellist. Awesome.
That afternoon, I went to the Musee Carnavalet, which is most notable for its huge collection surrounding the Revolution. There are models of the Bastille, and the KEY to the Bastille, which is so cool. There are paintings of people involved, and of the rights of man, etc. Also interesting is there "art and literature" collection. Those are paintings and statues of famous actors, composers, singers, writers, etc. And bedrooms. They have several famous writers' bedrooms. Want to see the bedroom furniture of Marcel Proust or Anna de Noailles? Go to the Musee Carnvalet. Again, this one is free. And the mansions it is in are stunning.
Plus, at one point, I was literally followed across the street twice by a guy who wanted my number... He was cute. A little short, but cute in a Eurotrash way. He just wouldn't give up.
Yesterday, I started out at the Musee d'Art et d'Histoire de Judaisme. It was interesting, but I mostly went for its current exhibition on the Dreyfus Affair, when a man was set up to look like a traitor simply because he was Jewish, and he waited years in solitary confinement on Devil's Island waiting for a retrial, and it took two retrials for the truth to come out and Emile Zola was exiled over it. It's a really, really cool exhibition, but only if you are interested in that sort of thing. Which I am.
Then, I went to the Centre Georges Pompidou for the afternoon. Oh, man. Besides seeing pieces by Miro (who I love!), they had some craaazy exhibitions. There was a bunch of welded statues by David Smith, some of which were amazing (look up "Star Cage"). There was an exhibition on Los Angeles artists, which was way cool. It had everything from red fiberglass squares (pretty, but what?) to photographs. And videos of performance art.
If you haven't seen John Baldessari's videos, you should. Try "Teaching a Plant the Alphabet." Or "I am making art," which is like twenty minutes of him moving slightly to a new pose and saying "I am making art" and then a new pose "I am making art..."
But, let me tell you, Chris Burden is my new favorite thing ever. This is the guy, you've probably heard of him, who had his friend shoot him in the arm with a 22 rifle. They took photos of it, and called it art. To be fair, he didn't even flinch. I'm impressed. I also like the one where he stayed inside a locker for five days. Or where he kind of held a TV station hostage. (Not really, but there was a knife and threats, and such.) Or the one where he layed on the back of a VW bug, and they nailed his hands down, through the palm a la Jesus. Or if those are too intense, try the one where he just stayed in a bed in a museum for 22 days, never speaking, and not leaving other than to pee. I don't pretend to understand why he calls it art. But I kind of love it.
Plus, there were some REALLY bad movies, John Waters style. Let's be honest, that's my favorite style. I only watched one, but I'm going to have to go back just to watch the others! I saw "Garage Sale," which involved a hero named Hero, and his beautiful but estranged wife, Goldie Glitters, played by a drag queen named Goldie. My favorite moment was when a man who had just killed himself lip synced to "Yesterday's Ice Cubes." Oh, man.
There was also a huge exhibition on the Art of the Moving Image, which had some great stuff. I loved Mark Lewis' "Two Impossible Films," which are the opening and closing credits of two films that were tossed around but never got made. One is a love story with the main character of Freud. Yeah.
So, I've had two long but very cool days. I have no idea what I'll do today...