Pompidou Center And Montparnasse Cemetery

Today I went to the Pompidou Center, the ugly modern art museum in Paris. Along the way there, I snapped photos of the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Seine, and the Hôtel de Ville and its carousel. There was a long line to get into the museum even though I arrived shortly before it opened at 11:00 AM. After I bought my ticket I headed for the bookstore. I bought a paperback art book entitled “Qu’Est Ce Que La Bande Dessinée Aujourd’Hui?“. It is a history of the French comic book art form. I browsed through some DVDs but could not find anything I was familiar with so I just picked something out at random, “Les conditions du visible” (Conditions of the visible) which is a documentary about the work of Marc’O. It seems like the French enjoy a lot of cultural documentaries which originally air on their TV channel for the arts.

I saw two exhibits at the Pompidou Center; Alexander Calder “Les Années Parisiennes” which was about his years in Paris, and hundreds of paintings by Kandinsky. The Alexander Calder exhibit featured some of his wire sculptures. They were quite ingenious because with the correct light on the wire sculpture you would get a shadow that looks just like a sketch made up of lines. And what was really cool about that is the shadow sketch would change as the wire sculpture rotated. In other words, the rotation of the wire sculpture would give you different renderings of the line art. I thought that was pure genius. While I was observing this effect it occurred to me that you could do the same thing in After Effects. You could create a wireframe solid and position a light so it casts a shadow. Then you could animate the solid to cause the shadow to change.

While exploring the Wassily Kandinsky exhibit I noticed a mistake in the English translation for one title, “Romantical Landscape”. There is no word “romantical”. They should have used the word “romantic”. Several of the paintings were on loan from the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum in New York City and it occurred to me that I’ve never been there. Unfortunately, much of the Pompidou Center was closed so all I saw were those two exhibits. As far as I could tell, that was all there was to see. I went to the information desk to ask about what else was open but they did not understand much English. So I left there early at 2:00 PM and had to find something else to do for the rest of the day. I decided to visit the Montparnasse Cemetery. First I had to buy a map at a newsstand because my Frommer’s pocket map of Paris did not show Montparnasse.

At Montparnasse Cemetery I found the graves of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir together. That was the first famous grave I saw there. Then I found Charles Baudelaire’s grave which was a profound moment because Baudelaire is one of my favorite poets. I even named my black cat after him. Baudelaire’s grave had many flowers (flowers of evil?) on it and someone left a laminated poem held down by pebbles. I also found the grave of Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, and Susan Sontag. I was surprised to learn that people are still being buried in this cemetery. Many of the monuments were modern. In fact, I think somebody was being buried while I was there. I have to admit it got to be a little depressing to hang around all those cemetery monuments for hours on end. I took a shorter route to get to my hotel but all that walking really made my feet sore. I may have to limit my walking tomorrow.

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