The Modernist’s Paris Museum Guide

Does the thought of gazing at “Mona Lisa[‘s]” coy smile not do it for you? With over 150 museums, Paris offers a range of experiences, which means your city of lights cultural excursion doesn’t necessarily have to include idling around Renaissance and Old Master paintings if that’s not your thing. From preserved 20th century artist ateliers to vast encyclopedic halls of Modernism, here is your shortlist of Paris stops boasting innovations from the last 200 years.

 

Fondation Louis Vuitton

This Frank Gehry-designed masterpiece-turned-museum is the perfect stop for a sunny day. Works from the permanent collection and rotating exhibitions, such as Bentu: Chinese Artists in a Time of Turbulence and Transformation (on view through May 2), are woven throughout the byzantine indoor and outdoor spaces of this ship-like building.

 

Centre Georges Pompidou

Rotating exhibitions of 20th and 21st century works and movements including The Eighties: Photographs and Films (on view through May 23). The range of flirtatious and evocative works speaks to the establishment of photographic institutions in France in the period, technological developments in the medium, and 80s pop iconography.

 

Musée d'Orsay

Musée d’Orsay

 

Musée d’Orsay

A grand central hall is filled with 19th and 20th century sculpture and is flanked by rooms with iconic examples from every Western movement from the last 200 years, from Gustave Courbet’s “A Burial at Ornan’s” to Alexandre Charpentier’s art nouveau, carved paneling.

Simon Evans "The Voice"

Simon Evans “The Voice”

 

Palais de Tokyo

Plug into what’s happening in the contemporary art scene at these museums featuring rotation exhibitions of artists engaging with space. Of note right now: video installations by Shana Mouton taking on the hyperbolic language of such female-focused products as Activia (on view through September 11) and the maze-inspired exhibition Not Not Kocking on Heaven’s Door by Simon Evans and Sarah Lannan (on view thru May 16, above).

 

Musée de l’Orangerie

A former haven for the orange trees of the Tuileries Palace holds Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by European painters, including eight of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies murals.

 

Musée Picasso ©Fabien Campoverde

Musée Picasso ©Fabien Campoverde

 

Musée Picasso

A historical mansion houses a wide range of works by the prolific, Spanish painter and sculptor. The picturesque halls are home to 3,700 works on paper, ceramics, wood and metal sculptures, and paintings.

 

Espace Dalí

This Montmarte outpost for all things surrealism features Salvador Dalí’s bronze melting clocks and dream-like reinterpretations of canonical art icons, such as Tristan and Isolde, in paintings and illustrations.

Auguste Rodin "The Gates of Hell"

Auguste Rodin “The Gates of Hell”

 

Musée Rodin

Auguste Rodin’s home, atelier, and space for hosting benefactors and fellow artists has been preserved and converted into a space where visitors can peak into the arduous, multi-step process of forming such works as “The Gates of Hell” (above) and “The Burghers of Calais.”

 

Originally published on March 31st

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