Early autumn, Bassin de la Villette, Paris 19
If you contemplate Monet’s waterlilies and then turn your gaze back to the present world, everything seems to glow with an inner light, especially here, near where he painted, at about the 50th parallel, a similar latitude to Quebec and Seattle, much farther north than the Washington, DC suburb where I was born, so much closer to the equator. When I first came here, I had no idea what this meant. Something felt “off”…not quite the way it was supposed to be, grayer, muted. In time I understood that the closer you are to the poles, sunlight enters the atmosphere more at a slant, with less intense luminosity, and perhaps a prismatic effect depending on the weather. You have to seek out radiance everywhere you can, but once your eyes adjust, you learn to detect a shimmer in the air, a subtle sparkle in each color…
To be continued…. xxxxx Aliss
…From the documentary at the Orangerie museum about Monet’s Waterlily vision: he first imagined creating an immersive environment in 1897 but was unable to work on it for years, grieving for his wife and son, losing his sight to cataracts, then undergoing eye surgery. As war raged across Europe, he was possessed by an almost supernatural energy, constructing a huge atelier in Giverny to house the panels, now twice the size he originally planned. Encouraged by his friend, the statesman Clémenceau, he completed the canvases at the end of World War I, as a gift to the people of France and everywhere, as a sanctuary amid the alienating aspects of our modern world.
Clémenceau and Monet chose the Orangerie building both for its location by the Seine, the river flowing through Giverny and Monet’s life, and also because it stands in a garden, the Tuileries, on an East-West axis, like Paris itself, aligned with cycles of day and night depicted in the paintings.
I want to see my world as Monet saw, alive with light… past, present, future, eternity in every moment.
Reflections from my Parisian village….
Had a hard time reentering the Parisphere this year, so made a list of places to reconnect with the soul of France. First stop: le Musée de l’Orangerie to see Monet’s Waterlilies:
Yes, of course you can take the virtual tour via the link above and you can go there on a crowded weekend, walk through the oval rooms filming with your smartphone, and check it off your list of tourist attractions to “do” in Paris. That’s about how I did it the first time. Then I accompanied US friends to Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny (about two hours northwest) and crossed that off my list, too, but something kept pulling me back. I researched the best time to go to avoid the tour buses and found myself spending hours sitting by the lily pond under the willow branches, immersed in peace and beauty. Then I returned to see the waterlilies at the Orangerie, again and again, weekdays at lunch time, when it’s almost empty, sliding around the oval benches in the soft natural light, facing the panels with soft eyes until the colors imprinted on my retina and I could almost slip between the layers of flowers, water, clouds, and sky. I wanted only the sensual elemental experience, not an intellectual art-snob number, so I deliberately ignored all documentation.
This time I went on a Thursday midday, was almost alone in the twin spaces and finally saw that the exhibit is not a rendering of Giverny’s pond, but more freely interpreted to create loops of time, light, and overlapping worlds. Later I wandered into the deserted audiovisual room downstairs and had the film about how Monet created this place all to myself. There is much more to say, in the coming days, about how my vision has been transformed by Monet’s spirit, how I’m seeing my cityscape literally in a different light.
To be continued….. xxxxx Aliss
…someone restores your faith in the future… a volunteer teaching refugees French, Place Stalingrad, Paris 19…
To be continued…. xxxxx Aliss
Dear blog, Forgive me for not writing, I have been sick! Zero energy… As soon as I feel better, I’ll be back! xxxxx Aliss
200 year old juniper tree in the Parc Floral, image of longevity beyond human years…reminder to keep perspective… Thank you for checking in. Haven’t been able to post very much because of Back to School insanity… to be continued xxxxx A
A word to the one million tourists who were afraid to come here this year… You don’t know what you’re missing….
to be continued…. xxxxx Aliss