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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

After the Louvre

As mentioned previously, after the Louvre we dined on Indian at the Bastille. By this time it was early evening and we were not at all ready to call it a day so we decided to Check out the Opera (Opéra Garnier) and see what might be happening in that area. I took this nice photo, but the Opera was at this point closed to visitors. Even so, I still walked around the entire building pointing out the beautifully tacky brilliance of Charles Garnier. More on the opera later as we went back and actually toured it on another day.
I had confused the name of the street, Capuchin, with the monks in Italy of the same name who
had built the catacombs there, and thought that les Catacombes might be near by. They were not, but at the end of the street we happened to find La Madeleine, the church, not the French bistro chain in the DFW area. From the exterior, with its Greek columns and friezes, flowers and sculpture art, we were not actually sure what it was. We decided to have a look, thinking it might be a museum.
We were wrong, and we were right.
La Madeleine is indeed a church, and a beautiful church at that. But it is also, or at least it was while we were there, also an art gallery.
This is the point where the post becomes disjointed because I simply can not explain this place in a way that anyone would understand.
First of all, remember that this is Sunday evening so service is about to begin. The pipe organ was blaring. I wasn't able to get a decent picture of it due to the darkness at this time. People were wandering about and snapping pictures. I notice a statue of Jesus and walk towards it, but it's not the statue that actually has captured my attention, rather the very odd holographic shield hanging nearby. Yes, that shield you see on the left, with the skull on it. The skull that appeared to light up depending on the angle that you viewed it from. Right before that I had been looking at a plaster and wire sculpture that looked like one of the animations from Pink Floyd's The Wall so I started to wonder if this was indeed a church, or some sort of church like cult of people who like creepy church like things.
That's when I caught something very odd out of the corner of my eye. The statue of Jesus opened his eyes, looked around, and started talking to me. I thought I might have been really tired, or maybe I was having a religious experience so I stared for a while and it happened again. There was a projector set up in a way that it projected eyes and a moving mouth onto the statue. Directly across from Jesus was a Madonna and child that did the exact same thing. If mass wasn't about to begin I would have taken video, but I didn't want to appear rude, so we left and came back the next day, but alas, no mass, no spooky statues.
On our second trip we took a lot of pictures, only a small fraction of which are represented here. Jason took the beautiful shots of the statues on the alter and the baptism.
With more time to peruse the art I was able to glean, from my limited comprehension of French, that the art installations were all part of an exhibit that focused on the body and soul, in particular as it pertained to Mary as the human vessel for the holy spirit. With the explanation it became less weird and more intriguing. I would put up all of the pictures but that would likely crash the blog. I may add a link at some point in the future.
From La Madeleine we walked to the Concorde, passing and area that held Rodin's The Kiss, a sculpture consisting of many arms on granite rocks (these were the arms mentioned in the last entry that poor Ms. De Milo may have a use for), and a photography installation by Martin Parr which chronicled tourists and their nuttiness. I was both awed and offended and I found myself snapping photos of tourists doing silly things as well (well, why not, most of them were unintentionally photo bombing my pictures anyway).
From the Concorde we crossed the Seine and walked along the river until we came to another bridge which put us near the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, heading towards Champs Elysees. On this bridge I snapped what might be my favorite picture from the trip:

About the time I could see the Arc De Triomphe in the distance we realized that we had probably walked a little farther than two people with blistered and abused feet should, so we found the metro and headed back to our neighborhood for dinner.
Dinner was where we realized that the sun was not setting until almost 11pm in Paris. This took some getting used to.
After more German MTV it was time for bed.
Next on the agenda, a long gush on the Opera, unexpected Calder fun and more pictures!

On a side note, once this trip is chronicled this blog will likely be devoted to photography, art experiments, crafts and travel so do keep reading if interested.

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