Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Marie et Paul et John et al

Believe it or not, I still have some stuff from my trip in November left to flog you with. I'm sure you're all well and thoroughly sick of hearing me coo about my travels, but there were a few more beautiful things I wanted to show you.

One of my last days in Paris, a bitterly cold, overcast Sunday, I finally made my way over to the Musée de l'Orangerie, which is at the western end of the Tuileries, looking out at the Place de la Concorde. The Orangerie is a museum of impressionist & post-impressionist work. It's not my favorite period in art, but I'd heard great things about the museum, and it seemed like a good place to spend a cold gray day.

Most of the art housed in the Orangerie is from the collection of Paul Guillaume. Who was Paul Guillaume? He was this guy:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

painting by Modigliani, 1915

See, he just looks like he'd be fun to hang out with, if you ask me.

(One of the highlights of my trip was seeing a young Japanese hipster guy who was touristing through the museum with his young Japanese hipster girlfriend stick an unlit cigarette in his mouth and strike the same pose in front of this painting while his girl took a photo. I have to say, the resemblance was pretty striking.)

Guillaume was one of the foremost art dealers and collectors in Paris in the early part of the 20th century, a man of obviously exquisite taste who amassed an unbelievable collection of paintings by artists like Matisse, Cézanne, Utrillo, Picasso, Monet, Renoir and scads more. (There are a LOT of wonderful paintings inside this building, including some enormous rooms that house Monet's Waterlilies.) After perusing several galleries of masterpieces by some of the greatest lights of 20th-century art, I stumbled across the work of an artist named Marie Laurencin that I'd somehow never heard of before, and I was really taken by her paintings.

Les Biches, 1923

I just found these so soft and lovely. The stylized feminine features border on the twee, but I was so struck by the colors, which were somehow pastel and saturated at the same time, and the lines of the paintings, which have so much movement even when the subjects are in repose. I was allowed to take photos in the museum, but only without a flash, so please forgive the slightly out-of-focus quality -- there just wasn't enough light for my little point & shoot camera. Also, the painting are under glass, so there's a wee bit of reflection from the lights in the room, but give these photos a click to enlarge them and really get a good look. When I found myself in a whole roomful of them, surrounded on all sides by these flowing lines and gorgeous colors, I gave a contented little sigh and went to my Happy Art Place. And as I stood there staring at them, a few memories echoed ever-so-faintly in my brain...

Les Danseuses Espagnoles, 1921

It seemed to me I had seen these dresses and colors before...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

John Galliano

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

John Galliano for Christian Dior

Kinda cool, huh?

Femmes au chien, 1923

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

John Galliano

Here's a gorgeous portrait of Coco Chanel. I just adore this painting.

Portrait de Mademoiselle Chanel, 1923

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


The similarities between the dresses are a little uncanny, you have to admit. I remembered this Abaete dress so well because I thought that blue was one of the prettiest colors that I'd seen in a long time.

Here's Paul Guillaume's wife, Domenica. It's thanks to her and her second husband, Jean Walter, that the collection survives intact. Merci, Domenica.

Portrait de Madame Paul Guillaume, 1924

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

John Galliano

Art, fashion, fashion, art... there's so often a connection. I can't know, of course, if John Galliano is familiar with Marie Laurencin's paintings (John, sweetie, if you're reading, drop me a line), but I like to imagine him, too, one gray afternoon in Paris, finding refuge in a beautiful museum and going to his Happy Art Place. And then bringing it to us, on the runway.

Photos: Style Spy,

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Anonymous said...

Life imitates art!

PastryDiva said...

I don't know much about art but those paintings are amazing! I would love to have a nice print in my room...Thanks for sharing!