Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
- The Flying Buttresses supporting the high nave, anchored by columns and abutments, were used as structural element in this cathedral for the first time. It is made to feel lighter by the addition of niches filled sculptures.
- The South Portal depicting scenes from the New Testament
- The North Portal depicting scenes from the Old Testament. Restored, notice how much whiter the facade is compared to the South portal.
- The Royal (Front) Portal was under restoration during our visit. The garden in front of the church is a bit unusual and looked like one you would find in the 13th century. Raised gardens boxed in by intertwined twigs were arranged in rows and filled with colorful flowers.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
A surprising find during my recent visit to Paris is the vast Cite de l'architecture et du patrimoine (City of Architecture and Heritage) museum which is housed in a wing of the Palais Chaillot in the Trocadero area.
There were three distinct galleries. The first one we experienced is a shrine to 12 centuries of France’s architecture — with exhibitions that range from the reproduction of a stained-glass window in the gothic cathedral at Chartres. The soaring, glass-roofed main gallery gave light and airiness to the plaster-cast reproductions of the most important examples of medieval, Gothic and Renaissance church architecture: cathedral facades, gargoyles, pillars, statues, crypts. Also featured are scale models of churches and various buildings of the period. I love that they used red walls as the backdrop since they showcased the objects so that you can appreciate them better than in situ.
Actual size plaster cast of one of the portals at the Notre Dame Cathedral Paris
We took the elevator to the upper level and found another gallery devoted to modern architecture, with maquettes from the mid-19th through the 21st centuries, including London's Crystal Palace and one of Renzo Piano’s 1998 cultural center in the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. In this gallery, you can see the plans for the Eiffel Tower and then look out the window to a great view of one of the most famous architectural symbols of Paris.
View of Eiffel Tower from the Modern Architecture Gallery
We were about to leave and decided to stop by the toilette first. As we walked out of the toilette, I spotted a narrow corridor I thought we had not been in before. It opened up into another gallery of paintings, niches, domes and frescoes from the 12th to 16th centuries that have been faithfully reproduced. Here we experienced what it felt like to be inside the actual places these works in this gallery realistically replicated and we were literally lost in the many nooks and crannies, so much so that the guards had to come and find us at closing time.
Given my love affair with Medieval and Renaissance art and with architecture, in general, this museum was a feast for my eyes, I wish we had more time to explore. I'm glad my friend, Yogi took me there. I found so much inspiration in this place. It is a must see for all students and admirers of architecture.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
We entered Monet's house (no pictures allowed) and I was struck by the bright yellow and blue walls. He also had an extensive collection of Japanese woodblocks which in one way or another influenced him and other Impressionists painters. I love his country kitchen. Most of all, I admired the gardens. It is as if, Monet's painting have come to life. I just couldn't believe that I was walking where Monet puttered around, set up his paints, brushes, canvas and easel.
I particularly liked the Japanese inspired gardens, with the pond filled with blooming water lilies, the boat, the green Japanese bridge and the willow branches brushing the pond, that were featured in many of Monet's paintings. This is where you feel Monet's presence the most.
Influenced by Monet's vision, the little town of Giverny transformed itself into a colorful oasis. Every little corner is an inspiration. Artists, mostly Americans. flocked to Giverny attracted by most of the same things which attracted Monet and stayed at Hotel Baudy, whose registry features a veritable Who's Who of the artist world at the time.
We were also able to visit Monet's tomb by the old church. His family is buried there, too. On the way, we passed by a number of local galleries.
We also visited the Musee des Impressionismes Giverny which featured an exhibition by Maximilien Luce, a neo-impressionist. The gardens of the museum were spectacular and were done up in rooms in various color schemes, I like the yellow garden room the best.
Giverny is worth the visit for artist, gardeners, horticulturist and art lovers alike.
Claude Monet (French pronunciation: [klod mɔnɛ]), born Oscar Claude Monet (14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926), was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting.  The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant).