Saturday May 27th, 2017
We got to Musée d’Orsay (which again, I will be calling Dorsay because one I’m lazy but two it sounds more like an appropriate and affectionate pet name) around 9:30 am. Paris was quiet and cool, and we got to cross and see the river and streets before they grew wild with travelers and pedestrians like ourselves. Because we were so early, and such a large group, we were miraculously allowed inside the museum before they actually officially opened.
As a result, we got to explore the quiet old railroad station, unencumbered by the crowd. And it was magical. You know that scene from Pride and Prejudice where Lizzy (Keira Knightley) slowly wanders around all those beautiful white marble statues while piano music plays? This was the closest I’ve ever gotten to that.
We got lost for a while, wandering in and out of and between the various statues and paintings and rooms. We went upstairs, downstairs, back again.
At one point, we found an old ballroom full of chandeliers and mirrors where we twirled and twirled for a bit, pretending that we were princesses and that this was where we lived. It wouldn’t have been a bad arrangement.Then we finally kept going up, and up, and up, to what inexplicably felt like the main event on the fifth floor. It was the Impressionist exhibit.
I have always loved Impressionism. It’s my favorite painting style and movement, I think. When we learned about it in art class, I always got so excited. We got to do timed Van Gogh drawings and recreate Monet paintings.
I even loved the cheesy movies we watched on those awful rolling television carts in middle school, movies about Degas painting the ballerinas and sculpting the Little Dancer, about Renoir and his fierce competitive streak. The acting was terrible, no question. But they made the artists and their subjects real, alive. Also, Mr. Cooper, my amazing art teacher, was always so enthusiastic about them and how bad but good they were, and I think that kind of fervor catches on.
The fact that I knew something about the artists, perhaps, made seeing their works even more special. Learning about things, having a context and background to them, always does that. Or maybe I was just so happy and into this exhibit because the paintings are so lovely. I love the style and mood of Impressionism, as I said. I love seeing the light, the paint and brushstrokes, the airiness.
Or maybe it was also because literally every painting was more famous and familiar than the last. Literally every single one. The poppy field? Waterlillies? The freaking Renoir girl that Lorelai Gilmore dresses up as in the Stars Hollow Festival of Living Art? The Degas ballerinas and practice statues? I was freaking out. It is, in fact, also possible to fangirl over paintings.
Regardless, I was in awe and in love.
After spending an eternity amongst the Impressionists, I wandered back downstairs to find my friends. In doing so, I also found Van Gogh, the Surrealists, and a handful of other abstract and brilliant masters.
And then, after another little bit, it was time to leave.
I got a tote bag because I was tired of carrying my water bottle and brochures everywhere. I bought postcards and continued to fangirl over the wonderful place I had just visited.
Even when we all boarded the train that would whisk us away to Versailles, my mind and heart were still focused on the little train station-turned art museum. This had been my favorite art museum of the trip yet, maybe one of my favorites ever. And that is the pillar upon which it would and has remained. I loved, and will love, Dorsay and all that we saw and did there.