Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sundays with Richard and Polly -- and Bee!

Normally I find Paris to be a sight for sore eyes. The subtle, muted tones of the architecture, the verdant gardens, the gilded grandeur of interiors.

After Sunday's expedition, however, my retinas may have to go on August vacation.

For this month's Sundays with Richard and Polly, our indoor venue du jour was the fabulous Bridget Riley Retrospective at the Musee d'Art Moderne at the Palais de Toyko. This turned out to be a perfect setting, because Bee wanted to see both the exhibit and the finale of the Tour de France. So she and I met up with Richard at the museum and we planned to view the arrival of the cyclists after lunch.

But first, the Bridget Riley Retrospective.

Please go see this exhibit.

My first reaction was how well it was curated. Starting with her early works showing her interest in pointillism and Seurat, the exhibit quickly tosses the viewer into her 1950s-1960s work. "Ooh, op-art!" you'll say when you see it, which may be partially correct, although Riley herself eschews that popular reference to her art. If you view it as a modern impressionism, you'll have a clearer sense of her artistic purpose. But the optical effect of this exhibit will change you.

Please go see this exhibit.

I cannot presume to have any capacities as an art critic. But as a mere admirer of contemporary art, I offer this advice:

Please go see this exhibit.

This is the most visual visual art. I am not one who is usually at a loss for words, but it left me speechless.

Please go see this exhibit.

The only words I could find were, "I wonder if her work was planned to be viewed all at once?" because after a while I had to close my eyes in between paintings just to give the optical nerves a rest. If you asked me to, I could go into long-winded explanations of the immediate visual connection I had to the work of Vasarely, whose chateau museum at Gordes so influenced my nascent perception of Art when I visited it in 1975. And it turns out that Vasarely was an important influence on Riley. But I can't describe all that here.

Please go see this exhibit.

If you don't already know Riley's work, your eyes and your perception of art will never be the same.

Then we had lunch on the terrace outside the museum, then as we heard loudspeakers blaring by on the road below, we knew it was time to check out the imminent arrival of the Tour de France -- or so we thought.

It wasn't the real cyclists arriving, but the floats of the sponsors of the event. Wow -- more bright colors and vivid visuals in an otherwise stately Paris!

Dancing soda bottles

Garish candy-mobiles.

La Vache qui rit

and -- my personal favorite -- a travelling bed with a couple inside, advertising a hotel.

I liked the last float representing the "voiture balai," complete with brooms. The real voiture balai is the car that picks up riders who can't continue on the race.

Then silently speeding by were all the press cars, many with journalists in the back seat madly tapping away on their laptops. Then VIP buses. Then nothing. It appeared that a long wait stretched ahead until the leaders of the pack would appear.

Richard and I, being of the -- ahem -- older generation, decided to call it quits and split before the cyclists arrived. It was hot and we'd been standing for a long while. Sore feet. We left Bee and her friend to watch the cyclists' arrival. I bid Richard adieu and returned home to watch the end of the race on TV, feet up. Eyes sometimes closed.

But Bee got some fun footage from this vantage point of the cyclists just before they reached their final laps around the Champs Elysees.

And now check out what Richard had to say about our day.


Bill and Nancy on Eclaircie said...

We really enjoy reading your "Sundays with Richard and Polly" posts, and I guess we had better go and see the Bridget Riley Retrospective.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Hi Bill and Nancy,

Thanks -- Richard and I alwasy have fun.

I'm not terrible subtle in my recommendations, eh?

But, yes, do see the exhibit.

And we should get together some time!

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