Paris is famed for its art galleries. From the iconic Louvre via the stylish Museé d’Orsay to the wonderful display of Monet’s Waterlilies in the Musée de l’Orangerie, there are collections to appeal to all tastes. Smaller galleries too, many less well known, and artists’ studios such as those of Rodin and Delacroix. And now there is a new kid on the block, the Bourse de Commerce. Let me take you there.
But first our stroll will take us past some of those other galleries, large and small. It’s a route we followed on a recent (very hot) morning in the city, and should make for a lovely ‘arty’ Monday Walk for Jo.
Rue de Seine
We started at the front entrance of our apartment on the rue de Seine and followed that road to the river. We stopped to look at its interesting galleries (most still closed at this time of day), some quirky street art and other photogenic details.
Crossing the river
We crossed over the wonderful Pont des Arts, stopping for some photos of course.
Would you believe that despite (I think) nine visits to Paris, I have never yet been in the Louvre?! Somehow there always seem to be other more interesting things to do, and I’m put off by the crowds when the other galleries are so much easier to visit. Maybe one day … Today however, our focus was on the architecture and the many visitors thronging its courtyards, so we spent some time here taking lots of photos.
La Bourse de Commerce
As it started to get hot we walked north along the Rue du Louvre to the Bourse, which we planned to visit. But as it doesn’t open till 11.00 there was time for refreshments at a lovely nearby cafe, Les Deux Ecus.
La Bourse is the one-time stock exchange building (and formerly a corn exchange) which has now been converted to a modern art gallery. Whatever your interest in contemporary art, the building itself is worth a visit.
The art starts outside, with the striking ‘Horse and Rider’ statue by Charles Ray. A sign explained that this was originally part of a solo exhibition by that artist in 2022. His aim in this piece was to reference classical equestrian statues but with none of their notions of power and virility. Instead he portrays himself hunched over the horse and without reins. He says that he tried to sculpt his nervousness.
Inside we found that we enjoyed quite a few, but not all, of the artists featured in the galleries. Some of the abstract works by Tacita Dean and Frank Bowling appealed to me, as did Robert Gober’s Waterfall, a video presented inside a man’s jacket! The leaflet said of the latter, ‘The viewer, a captive of this device, becomes a character in turn.’ No, I didn’t quite get that, until I photographed a man studying the video!
The marouflage frieze
And I loved the building, especially the frieze around the central dome. This is described in a sign on the wall as a ‘marouflaged canvas’. That was a new term to me so I turned to Wikipedia:
Marouflage is a technique for affixing a painted canvas (intended as a mural) to a wall, using an adhesive that hardens as it dries, such as plaster or cement.
The sign goes on to explain that the mural is in four parts, reflecting the power balance at the time. Russia and America have their own sections, while Europe is paired with the Ottoman Empire and in the fourth section Asia and Africa are grouped together, the targets of conquest and colonialisation. Racial stereotypes abound, such as the graciously welcoming Japanese women and the warrior-like Africans. Putting modern sensibilities aside, it’s an incredible work of art.
I was also intrigued by the double helix staircase which as well as being beautiful presented great photo opps. I already shared one shot of it in my monochrome Paris gallery, here it is now in colour.
By the time we left the Bourse it was well after midday. So we returned to Les Deux Ecus to round off the morning with lunch. I had a delicious Salade Niçoise with seared tuna, but sorry Jo, no cake!
I last visited Paris in September 2023, when all these photos were taken