Saturday, September 23

La vue de Paris


Joe and I spent part this past Thursday in Paris, where we had a seven-hour layover on our way home from Ukraine. Why we were in Ukraine is a separate post entirely, one that I hope to compose in the next few days.

Paris is lovely. The only other time I’ve been was also during a layover with Joe on our way to Rome back in 2002, when we visited the Latin Quarter and Sacré Coeur church. This time we decided to spend the afternoon at the Musée d’Orsay on a recommendation from our friend Kate.

I absolutely loved it. The space—a converted railway station for those who haven’t been—is magnificent, and the collection itself is impressive. We had only about 2½ hours to spare, and needless to say, the Orsay was much more manageable than the Louvre would have been in so short a span of time. Still, we saw only a fraction of the collection, and I’m hoping to make it back again in the not too distant future, perhaps this winter.

The above image shows Hercules the Archer (bronze, 1909, Musée d’Orsay, Paris) by Emile Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), who was a student of Rodin (1840-1917). Looking up at this massive nude from underneath was unexpectedly erotic. I say “unexpectedly” because the sculpted figure portrays a body type to which I am not normally drawn.

For all the figure’s muscular bulk and the raw power of his warrior stance, what struck me most was his incredible vulnerability, perhaps because from beneath I found myself staring directly up into his exposed perineum.

I wondered whether viewers a century ago would have found themselves as aroused.

7 Comments:

Blogger gay super hero said...

Loved your post, needless to say I also love the Musee d'Orsay! What a magnificent place! But you don't have to be so phallocentric;)What really struck me while I was there was "L'Origine du Monde" by realist painter Gustave Courbet, a canvas that shows nothing but a blown-up version of a lady's genitalia down to its most glorious details! And I swear to god, I'm not a dyke;) Seriously now another great idea for a brief stopover in Paris would be L'Institut du Monde Arabe near the Sorbonne. Not only is the building by Jean Nouvel one of the most unique and gorgeous buildings I have ever seen (its entire facade is divided in squares each bearing windows in the shape of camera lenses letting in or shutting off light depending on weather conditions outside) but also the view from the top is unbelievable. You can literally reach out and touch the Notre Dame! So keep that in mind next time you're stuck in Paris for a stopover.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Sandouri Dean Bey said...

g.s.h.-
you know, i only recently learned of courbet's "l'origine du monde" and i must've forgotten it was at the orsay (perhaps i didn't know to begin with) because when i rounded a corner on thursday and came face to face with it, i was ecstatic to see it in person. it's really a remarkable painting.

i'm not familiar with l'institut du monde arabe. what does it house?

and thanks for your comments :)

2:53 PM  
Blogger gay super hero said...

There is a "Museum of Arab Museums" inside with long-term loans from museums in Arab countries as well as a permanent collection of Arabic art and science, a library etc. But the main reason for visiting would be the building itself, as well as the view from the top!

3:25 PM  
Anonymous evangelia said...

i'm glad you had such a good experience in paris, sweetie! i have never really been drawn to paris, despit it's romantic image. i think that carrie's experiences in paris in SATC negatively colored my opinion of paris..or maybe it's because flights from paris to athens are ALWAYS delayed and i just want to get the hell out of there.

however..this arab museum just might change my mind. are there lots of handsome young arabs as tour guides? ;)

2:57 AM  
Blogger gay super hero said...

I don't know about arab tour guides, but the museum is splendid! You can also try the Museum of Islamic Art in Athens (very close to the Thission metro station) which also offers a magnificent collection as well as a great cafe on the terrace with a great view of the Acropolis, the Philopappou hill, Keramikos and so forth!

12:41 PM  
Blogger Sandouri Dean Bey said...

g.s.h.-
is that a new museum in athens? i don't remember seeing it when i was there in '97-'98, though there were many places i didn't get around to visiting. i wish i had known about it!

1:10 PM  
Blogger gay super hero said...

It only opened in 2005, the brainchild of Antonis Benakis who spent much of his life in Egypt collecting the 8000 items on display, including the marble-inlaid reception room of a 17th century Agyptian official which is just too gorgeous to describe. Also of note are the two neoclassical mansions where it is housed and, as I mentioned already, the cafe on the terrace!

2:14 PM  

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