Ô Monde Neuf, Ô Splendide Monde!

March 22th, 23th, 24th, 25th

“O brave new world/ That has such people in’t!”—Act V, Scene 1, The Tempest, William Shakespeare.

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My memorable Senior Project in Paris officially ended when I arrived at Philadelphia yesterday afternoon. I still can’t believe that three weeks went by so fast, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve seen and learned so much during my trip to Paris that I definitely have to have stayed there for more than three weeks.

Now looking back at the list of things I wanted to accomplish before I left for Paris, I’m really proud to say that I’ve done most of them and even went beyond. First of all, I used Paris public transport system to get around the city a lot. With its complex bus and metro network, Paris is definitely the most navigable city by public transport. This experience also helped me understand why public transport strikes in France are as common and effective as they are. Secondly, I’ve had an amazing experience with my host family in Paris. They are the most considerate people I’ve ever met and had interesting dinner conversations with.

Most importantly, I got to explore more amazing smaller museums and churches than I’ve originally expected. Since I was staying in Paris for three weeks and I only have free time during the afternoon, I thought it would be sensible to spend more of my time visiting smaller museums and temporary exhibitions. Going through many museums, I soon discovered that I’m particularly interested in Romanticism, Impressionism and post-Impressionism paintings, especially Renoir, Monet, Mary Cassatt etc. Thus, I went online to look for museums and art shows that focus especially on these artists. In fact, during my last two days in Paris, I was fortunate enough to see two more amazing temporary exhibitions in the Petit Palais: Dutch artists in Paris, 1789-1914 and The Art of pastel from Degas to Redon. I was so intrigued by my experiences with smaller private museums and temporary exhibitions that I’m starting to consider interning at private auction houses in the future.

Furthermore, I found myself really enjoying visiting churches during my stay at Paris. I am often drawn to the serenity and impressive art and architecture of the grande churches in Paris. I’ve found these visits to churches a pleasant temporary getaway from the busy city life and my busy traveling schedule.

Awesome as my Senior Project trip to Paris was, my stay was not without minor disappointments. First of all, several of the museums I’m really excited to visit were closed for renovation: Musée du Cluny and Musée de la vie romantique. Even though I was able to see part of Musée du Cluny in the Louvre Museum, I’m still a little disappointed to be unable to see this amazing museum of Middle Age at its full glory, especially the remains of the frigidarium of the Roman bath incorporated into the museum with its famous mosaic, Cupid riding a dolphin.

Secondly, I wished there were less rainy days at Paris so that I could have more time wandering in the numerous, gorgeous public gardens like Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des Tuileries and Les Jardins du Château de Versailles. On the same note, I hoped I’ve have stayed even longer at Paris so that I would have more free time to walk casually around the artistic neighborhood of Montmartre and Le Marais, to explore some boutiques, and to have more sit-down meals and afternoon tea at the local café, salon de thé and bistros.

All in all, I’d love to think that every successful trip should have highlights and some unfulfilled wishes so that one would want to return to the city again for more inspiring experiences. This is exactly what my trip to Paris has brought to me, amazing surprises, discoveries, and the strong wish to return someday!

Summer

Un Autre Royaume

March 19th, 20th, 21th

“Death must be so beautiful…to have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.” Oscar Wilde

In the past few days, I ventured back in time. I visited to another world within Paris, the realm of the great deceased. On March 20th, I went to visit the most famous and most visited cemetery in Paris and in the world, Père Lachaise. Père Lachaise takes its name from the confessor of Louis XIV, Père François de la Chaise. A garden graveyard built on the side of a hill, Père Lachaise is not just any ordinary graveyard, but a city of the dead with its own winding streets named after famous people laid to rest there. Père Lachaise is the place set apart for all Parisiens dead or alive. To be buried Père Lachaise, one has to be either a citizen of Paris, or to have died in Paris. For the living Parisiens, Père Lachaise is their favorite location for a walk (the French really likes promenades in graveyards for some reason).

Given the numerous great spirits laid to rest in this cemetery, I decided to follow the guided tour laid out in Anna Erikssön and Mason Bendewald’s book Meet Me At Père Lachaise. As I walked down the winding roads following the instructions in the book, reading about the life stories of the famous deceased, I felt myself transferred into a much more peaceful world. I felt like if I was quiet enough I can almost Molière and La Fontaine discussing literature or Chopin playing music. I couldn’t help but be filled with great awe and respect for all who has given their lives to making our world as beautiful and rich as it is now.

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some of the famous graves at Père Lachaise: Chopin, Abelard and Heloise, Jim Morrison, La Fontaine, Oscar Wilde, Balzac, and Molière.

Earlier on March 19th, I went to Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris and Sainte-Chapelle on the île de la Cité. 

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Notre-Dame de Paris

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Sainte-Chapelle

Finally, today I visited the Musée Jacquemart-André in the Belle-Epoch bourgeois townhouse of the art collector Edouard André and artist Nélie Jacquemart designed by famous architect Henri Parent. This museum is also one of my favorite smaller museums. Not only does it boast of a great collection of paintings, sculptures, artifacts, and decorative art collected by the couple through their travels around Europe and the world, the architecture of the house itself can be considered a masterpiece (in fact, I liked this townhouse better than Palais du Versailles, which is a little bit too ornamented for my taste). I was struck with awe by the amazing work the couple has done for the art collections in France, both acquiring important paintings themselves and helping French museums with their fund and donations. At the same time, I can’t help but admire at the design of the spiraling staircase positioned in one side of the house, the retractable walls of the reception room, and the exquisite winter garden.

Finally, I had the luck to enjoy the temporary exhibit of female French-American impressionist artist Mary Cassatt. She was a great friend of Edgar Degas, an important member of the impressionist movement, and spent part of her childhood in the Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania. She was a great advocate for presentation of women in paintings and particularly enjoyed depicting the subject of maternity and the tender relationship between mother and child.

Summer

Museums

March 20, 2018

Each museum has a very distinct feel. I only realized this after I visited five museums in five days. The museums I visited include the Museu Picasso, the Dalí Theatre and Museum, the Museo Reina Sofia, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Museo del Prado. Since this is a number of museums, I will only write about Dalí’s Theatre-Museum and the Museo del Prado in this post.

I took a day trip from Barcelona to Figueres to visit Salvador Dalí’s Theatre-Museum. It was overflowing with evidence of Dalí’s eccentricity, which was evident even from the exterior of the building. Its bright red walls adorned with little gold dots contrasted sharply with the yellow buildings surrounding the museum. To make the comparison even more drastic, a line of life-like eggs were perched at the top of the building. A statue of a woman with large breasts standing atop a black Cadillac greeted me as I walked into the open courtyard of the museum. Behind the statue is a stage with huge glass windows. Going into the inside, there is an abnormally large painting with deep red curtains around it, solidifying the impression of a theater. Even though I would not consider myself a Dalí fan, or even a fan of surrealism in general, I found myself increasingly drawn in by the peculiarities of the art shown. However, every so often, there would be some element that reminded me that, while I was in a museum, I was also in something resembling a theater. For example, there are windows behind the golden statues above the courtyard from which you can look out and view the stage. I moved through the galleries in a state of wonder. After visiting the Theatre-Museum, I can safely say that I am more appreciative of surrealism, contemporary art, and of Salvador Dalí’s genius than I had been before my visit.

After leaving Figueres, I went to Madrid. Due to poor planning, I only managed to spend about an hour and a half in the Museo del Prado before I had to leave for Valencia. However, I was extremely pleased. Unlike Dalí’s Theatre-Museum, the Prado Museum had a more classical structure and collection. There were, as expected, many depictions of Greek and Roman mythology, which, as many friends know, I absolutely love. While walking through the first floor of the Prado, I came across a painting by Paulo Veronese entitled Venus and Adonis. It was the same painting that adorned the cover of my text book for Latin IV last year. I can’t even begin to convey my excitement at seeing the painting. I think I stood there for a good ten minutes or so, the first two just gaping at the work and the rest analyzing minute details. It was remarkable to see a piece of art in person that was first introduced to me in school.

As I continued through the gallery, I found more paintings and statues that depicted scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the text I studied a year ago. I spent the rest of my time at the Museo del Prado looking at them. Below are some of my favorites.

~ Auria

Les Meilleurs Malheurs

March 16th, 17th, 18th

Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect. — J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The weather in Paris is becoming very cold again and it started snowing this weekend. While it’s exciting to see some snow at Paris, it is nonetheless a bit of a bad news for a traveler in foreign city who relies on the public transport and on her own feet. Thus, these past few days I’ve deliberately chosen to remain inside and visit some more museums. Despite the freezing cold weather, I’ve made some very heart-warming discoveries.

This past Friday, I spent an entire afternoon at the Louvre Museum (yeah, I went again). Instead of browsing through the entire museum looking for must-see masterpieces, I decided to slow down and take the time to look at the collections I’m interested in more closely. Thus, the entire afternoon, I remained in the French/European sculpture and Etruscan, Greek, and Roman antiquity departments. Aside from being amazed the numerous priceless masterpieces in these departments, I was most pleased to find part of the medieval collections from the Musée du Cluny (Musée national du Moyen Âge). Musée du Cluny, a museum constructed on the remains of a Roman bathhouse and dedicated to medieval history, is the museum I wanted to visit the most on this trip to Paris. Yet, unfortunately, this museum has been closed for renovation until mid-July and I was not able to pay a visit during this trip (I did get to see the remains of the caldarium and the tepidarium outside the museum). Fortunately for me, I can still see part of this museum’s collection thanks to its cooperation with the Louvre to transfer part of its collection to the Louvre for temporary storage. As I wandered around and marveled at the medieval works of art, I remembered J.K. Rowling’s famous quote from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” Sometimes, what I deemed as bad luck might bring pleasant surprises at the end of the day. 

I was soon to discover that the same is true for my visit to Versailles on a snowy Saturday. I was a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to walk around the gardens at Versailles because of the heavy snow. Yet, at the same time, if it weren’t for such a cold day, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the best chocolat chaud at Angelina’s nearly as much!

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Sunday, I decided to give myself a break from traveling non-stop and only went out near noon to visit Musée Marmottan Monet, which turned out to be one of my favorite smaller museums at Paris (which is a huge compliment considering it’s Paris, a city filled with museums). I really enjoyed the works of Monet and other impressionist artists, especially temporary exhibit on Corot.

Summer

 

Paris, Je t’aime

March 13th, 14th, 15th

“When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise” — Henry Miller

The last few days, the weather at Paris is becoming gradually warmer. Despite the occasional light shower, I’ve been able to enjoy Paris’ warm sunshine and pleasant light breeze. The places I adventured to in these past few days ranges from the grande and magnificent Palais Garnier (L’Opera Garnier) to the petit yet casually chic lesser-known private museums like Musée Gustave Moreau, Musée Cognacq-Jay and Maison du Victor Hugo. I got a feel for Paris’ artistic atmosphere through promenades through the artist districts Montmartre and Le Marais. I was also able to discover a little about French perfume and tea industry at the Fragonard Musée du Parfum and the Musée du thé of Mariage Frères.

March 13th

Originally, I wanted to see a ballet at L’Opera Garnier, but since the show I wanted to see, Orphée et Eurydice, does not premiere until the night I’m leaving Paris, I am not able to fulfill this hope during this trip (saving it for my next time at Paris). Despite that, I’m still stunned by the gorgeous interior of the great opera house. The shining halls of the opera are adored with numerous paintings and sculptures of famous dancers, singers, playwrights, and directors. The whole place has such a royal feeling that its name Palais Garnier is a rather appropriate description. Walking on the grande staircase in the opera house, I feel like I’m not just a spectator, but an actress part of a grand production, just like Charles Garnier has envisioned. FullSizeRender 53.jpg Continue reading “Paris, Je t’aime”

Aux Grands Hommes (Et Femmes)

March 8th and 9th

“And while I understand and feel/ How much to them I owe,/ My cheeks have often been bedew’d/ With tears of thoughtful gratitude/…/ My place with them will be,/ And I with them shall travel on/ Through all Futurity;/ Yet leaving here a name, I trust./ That will not perish in the dust” –Robert Southey

March 8th and 9th, I went to pay homage to Paris’ two most iconic sites for art and literature: the Panthéon and the Musée d’Orsay.

The modern Panthéon in Paris is named and (partially) modeled after the famous Roman Pantheon in Rome. The name “Pantheon” means, in Ancient Greek and Latin, (temple) to all the gods. rome-pantheon

Continue reading “Aux Grands Hommes (Et Femmes)”

First day and Ava DuVernay!?

Today is my second full day at the Brooklyn Museum. It’s been great so far. Not only have I met a ton of people in the museum’s education department who are super passionate about art, I’ve also been able to clean up and update the Teen Program’s Digital Artizens website. The site is a collection of intersectional feminist art, thoughts, and writing, all by teenagers! As a teenage activist and art lover, this is an exciting project for me to take on.

Yesterday after Intersextions, a paid internship at the museum for LGBTQ+ teens, all of the teen staff went to a special preview of Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle In Time at the Lincoln Center! Ava DuVernay is a black female director who is known for directing Selma and The Thirteenth, both serious movies about black identity and civil rights in America. A Wrinkle In Time however is a children’s fantasy movie, starring a black girl as the main character! After the film, Ava answered audience questions. I was starstruck! She’s such an inspiration and a trailblazer as a black female director. It’s so exciting to see her unique lens set upon such a classic children’s novel, and in addition, the movie was great!

Love,

 

Jay ❤