Of Comics and Cubists

Continuing our commitment to experience art and culture in Paris, we made two more exhibit/museum visits this week; the Herge exhibit at the Pompidou and the Picasso Museum. Herge was the dude who penned Tin Tin (pronounced Tawn Tawn in French), perhaps the most famous French cultural export after Merlot. Picasso on the other hand is the dude who pretty much defined art this century. Well, I’m sure I’d get my head bitten off if I said that to anyone who actually knows anything about art, but as a novice I feel confident that a significant fraction of art I see these days looks like derivative Picasso.

I hadn’t actually been inside the Pompidou, so I was pretty interested in the Herge exhibit both on its own merit and as an excuse to walk into the center. Turned out the Centre Pompidou is best seen from the outside. Unfortunately, having essentially zero French comprehension and only vaguely recalling some Tin Tin HBO series I watched over a summer years ago, the exhibit was a bit underwhelming, especially after the 30 minute wait in line. Still, I don’t intend to denigrate the show, Herge’s cartoon style is definitely classic and even though I have had so little exposure to the comic, I still managed to identify most of the characters and enjoy seeing them up on the wall. Also, I think our totally pathetic French language skills had some positive impact in that we were left to view the panels on their artistic merit alone. Even more, lacking the narrative, we were forced to invent our own to connect the sequences of images, which is arguably more fun.

This picture was awesome, that guy stared right at me, I thought he might ask me to delete the picture.

Tin Tin wasn’t apparently very into math.

Bush’s plan for future NASA moon exploration and settlement.

The Picasso museum was yet another shining example of how great European museums really are. The building was completely unassuming from outside, and actually quite easy to walk right by if you didn’t have a map. Yet once inside its courtyard entry, first impressions melted away. The museum is in a building that at one time frequently served as an exhibition space for Picasso’s work and now it does so permanently and exclusively. Picasso spent most of his productive career in Paris, shunning Spain during a time of great political and social unrest. So, the French revel in taking credit for his artistic accomplishments.

What makes Picasso such a special and important artist isn’t any particular work, style or school, but rather the diversity and extent of his life’s work. Picasso was actually initially schooled in very classic forms of painting, but quickly strayed and explored methods and styles that were often considered groundbreaking or controversial. Throughout his career he went through many periods of experimenting with color, shape, texture, and subject. He was also an accomplished sculptor in addition to painter. The museum does an excellent job of assembling a collection that is representative of his many periods of experimentation with both painting and sculpture.

As I mentioned in my Rodin post a while back, I have been quite intimately acquainted with Picasso since childhood. My parents hung several pieces of his work in our house, in particular the famous sketch of the hands clutching a flower bouquet. I’ve actually always been most frond of his line drawing sketches, in particular the Don Quixote I have hanging in my own room. I didn’t see too much of that work on display, but that was probably for the best as I got to experience things I was less familiar with. I think my favorite works on display were a sculpture of a goat and a series of collage like paintings. Anyway, I tried my best to capture the museum and the works on display in interesting ways, so I hope you enjoy.

I wanted to take this little guy home with me!

Detail of a sculpture of a girl skipping rope. Its so Saturday morning cartoonish.

Much of the museum is in the basement, which feels like you’re descending into a wine cellar or something. It actually makes for what I thought was a very intimate experience. That’s Zarita and her friend Rocks.


I belive that piece is called the Acrobat and I thought the ceiling of the cellar made it look like it was under a big-top tent.

Its not the greatest picture, and I couldn’t quite get it right, but I liked the play between the curves in the painting and the straight edges of the frame, wall and ceiling surrounding it.

Zarita, admiring the art, while I admired her.

The sculpture garden, awesome.

A totally creepy nanny with child sculpture.

The main staircase. The building was incredibly beautiful and classic looking.

I took this sitting on a bench staring at the floor and for just a second I imagined this scene of the people standing at the edge of a cliff with an endless drop into a thick white fog. The only thing keeping them safe was an ankle high fence that you might just trip right over. I think if you squint you’re eyes and stare at this picture you can see it too.

Zarita in front of the coolest collage ever. I wanna make science collages.

I saw the picture of the woman who modeled for this sculpture at the museum. She really looked just like that, I mean just not absurd, but like that.

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