Saturday, August 6, 2011

Centre Pompidou and downpour

Once upon a time France had a really awesome President who ‘wanted to create an original cultural institution in the heart of Paris completely focused on modern and contemporary creation, where the visual arts would rub shoulders with theatre, music, cinema, literature and the spoken word.' He had the Centre Pompidou built especially. Yesterday, after a slow start, that is where we went. On the way, I went to the Bureau de Poste, bought some stamps, and posted some postcards. It was so fun! The stamps were tiny which I appreciated.

We bought the cheapest and most delicious bread rolls, quiche, pain au chocolat and tarte aux citron which we ate on the ground in front of the Centre Pompidou. I got slightly stressed out by all the questionable people slowly gathering around us, and some particularly aggressive mute beggars. These mute people (I continue to cynically question the validity of their muteness) are everywhere and shove their clipboards in your face, trying to get you to sign some (undoubtedly) fake petition and give them money. The one outside Centre Pompidou actually tapped Ed on the glasses with her pen in her efforts to get us to sign. A poor woman sitting near us on her own was descended upon by two who just would not leave her alone. This is one of the not so nice things about Paris. The extremely hunched over beggar who seems to be a regular in the corridor of one of the Metro stops is particularly upsetting, he shakes violently and his plaintive ‘S’il vous plait’ echoes down the corridors. I guess that’s the reality of giant cities.

Inside the Centre Pompidou you get yet another great view as you ascend the escalators on the outer edge of the building, up to the Musee National D’Art Moderne. The building of the Centre Pompidou itself is pretty unique, the supporting structure and services (electricity, air, water, the escalators etc) are all in different coloured tubes on the exterior of the building.

Like the Musee D’Orsay, the Musee National D’Art Moderne was busy but less crowded than the Louvre and being a bit more of a modern art fan, I really liked it. Although, again, it’s pretty big and museum fatigue set in towards the end of the first of the two floors.

We had a reviving drink on the expensive terrace restaurant before moving onto the second floor. I paid approximately NZ$15 for a strawberry milkshake. My feet were so sore I didn’t care; I just wanted to sit down.

On the pre-1960 level we saw paintings by Picasso, Matisse, and I decided I really liked Kandinsky. When he died in 1944, his widow Nina left his studio pretty much untouched until she died in 1980 and left everything to the Centre Pompidou. It was cool being able to see some of his tools and some of the hundreds of little old black and white photos from their life together.

I also loved this video of a woman dancing in a big floaty dress, the colours were hand painted frame by frame onto the film (before the advent of colour film) so the dress changes colour as she dances.

The Centre Pompidou turned out to be an excellent place for my new favourite photographic series ‘Me in a Mirror.’ Ed even made it into the one above.

And I took it one step further with ‘Me in an Artwork.’

One the post-1960 level the artworks got more and more questionable, to the point where we weren't sure whether a wall covered in stripes was an artwork or just a wall. Turned out it was an artwork.

A classic movie Sunday homage.

In a square to one side of the Centre Pompidou is a mechanical Surrealist-inspired fountain with giant lips, a snake and other random things spinning, twirling, and spitting water. It puts the Cuba St bucket fountain to shame.

We wandered back to the Metro via some shops, intent on attending an outdoor movie later that night. However, just as we walked inside the hostel door, it absolutely bucketed down with rain. The streets turned into little rivers and there was giant thunder and even some lightning. The rain stopped but we figured the ground would still be really wet so will try for another outdoor movie tonight. Instead we met up with a fellow Wellingtonian who happens to be in Paris this week and had a drink in Montmarte. Ed and I hadn’t had dinner so ordered ‘Boeuf Tartare’…luckily the waiter who didn’t speak English went to great pains (including some strange mime) to get across to us that the beef is raw. We went with burgers instead.

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