Muses in Museums

I am in Paris now, back in the city where I lived and studied in my twenties. It was in this city that I became a painter. This is where I developed my knowledge of art, and started to shape my artistic vision. 

Part of that evolution happened in museums, while visiting exhibitions and doing color studies in those often grand spaces.

I have grown a deep affection for the quietness and serenity of museums, whether they are small and regional or palaces such as the Louvre. Although I will visit important exhibitions that are of interest, I prefer permanent exhibitions that allow the visitor to wander and ponder at ease.

       Such a place is the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. A place of serene contemplation is exactly what Monet had intended for his Nymphéas, his last and hugely impressive body of work, all done before, during and after World War I. ( ).

Two oval rooms display the huge panels that surround you as if in nature, where you enter after a small entrance helps you transition from the hustle and bustle of the city. I love this contrast. 



I have started to look at people in museums as much as the art that is displayed. I find there is a visual interest in the way their often dark shapes, opposed to the lit and bright art, seem to become one. This becomes another composition by itself.



When in museums, people become quiet and contemplative. They look, ponder, interrogate the art in front of them as if in silent conversation. What fascinates me is how they become absorbed in observation, and how they seem to merge into the art.

The setting, the ambiance, the pose and sheer coincidence bring a unique opportunity to photograph a fleeting moment, a painting come to life. A few seconds of magic before the spell is broken.

What fascinates me is the combination of color and space, light and dark, how the figures of the visitors become visually connected to the art they are looking at, and how their attitude tells of their inward reflection.This becomes another composition by itself.

Art, at least certainly mine, is often about this: to catch a moment of beauty and make it visible. Thus, I have found muses in museums.

Claude Monet, The Water Lilies: Clear Morning with Willows, The Clouds, Tree Reflections, Morning, 1890-1926, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, France,
Louise Jalbert, Photos prises au musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, septembre 2017