The Musee de l’Orangerie might be my favorite art museum in the world. Instead of trying to explain why you should go, I will do the lazy thing and drop a couple of pictures into my blog now.
The museum is spectacular on multiple layers. The two upstairs rooms have eight Monet paintings surrounding you like covered wagons in a movie starring John Wayne and those rooms are totally awesome. I don’t mean totally awesome in a 1980’s Jeff Spicoli way, but in a “I can’t believe someone did this” way. I like Monet just like most people, but I am not crazy about Monet. Monet is a lot like Barry Manilow to me: I like his songs, I know his songs, I won’t admit in public that I like his songs but put on Mandy and I’m singing along with Mr. Manilow in a few seconds. But, if given the choice between Mr. Manilow and something edgier, I go with the edgier, and the edgier is downstairs in l’Orangerie.
The personal collection of Paul Guillaume is hiding in the basement of the museum and I must say that dude had some pretty good taste in paintings. It’s easy to look at his collection today and think that you could have selected the same paintings if given the chance, but come on, let’s all be honest here, he took some chances.
What I like best about Guillaume’s collection is the weirdness of it. Many of these artists were really stretching the idea of beauty. Do I know that from some art class I took or a book I read? No, I am no Art major, I am just a guy who knows what I like, and I like weird paintings.
Not strange enough for you? Here is my favorite painting in the museum:
If you don’t like Chaim Soutine you can still find a nice collection of Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, Modigliani and Renoir. I love Soutine and l’Orangerie has the largest collection of his work that I am aware of. I could spend a couple of hours looking at these paintings, but not everyone in my family likes his stuff, my son asked me if Soutine had a physical disability, not the greatest compliment for a painter unless you are Chuck Close.
The museum is just the right size for a leisurely two-hour visit without having to feel rushed. The line to get into the museum can get a bit long so I suggest showing up just before it opens so you can maximize your time. So, if you are visiting Paris, live in Paris, passing through Paris, visit the l’Orangerie it is one of my favorite places.