Much Munch … at Pompidou Center in Paris …

If you are in Paris or France, or if you will be visiting, do spare a moment and two to go to the Edvard Munch exhibition at the Pompidou Center. The exposition – Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye – opened on Wednesday, September 21 and will run through to Monday, January 9, 2012. Beaubourg is […]

Beaubourg Center in Central Paris

If you are in Paris or France, or if you will be visiting, do spare a moment and two to go to the Edvard Munch exhibition at the Pompidou Center.

The exposition – Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye – opened on Wednesday, September 21 and will run through to Monday, January 9, 2012.

Beaubourg's facade: You either love it or you hate it

Beaubourg is really doing this exposition wonderfully well.  On the center’s 6th (top) floor, it consists of 12 rooms, each with its own theme.

In Room 11 you will see how Munch’s sight played tricks on him after he had suffered a hemorrhage in the vitreous humor of his right eye in 1930. He was 67 years old then. To quote from Beaubourg’s brochure: “So by drawing and painting what he actually saw, the artist was making a representation of his damaged gaze, his vision itself.”  Once he saw a skull.

Like all artists he did several self-portraits.  In one such self-portrait he sits naked in a bath tub; it is appropriately titled ‘Self portrait: à la Marat’.

Born on December 12 1863, in Løten, Norway, he died on January 23, 1944 (then 80) in his house at Skøyen, near Oslo. In the last years of his life he lived the life of a recluse.

A troubled man (like some many artists) who drank and brawled, and which by his own confession took him to ‘the verge of madness’, he had once undergone ‘electric’ treatment. He did have obsessions – with roads, bridges, weeping women, illness and death, and vampires  – which even Munch experts have been unable to analyse.

One of Munch's bridges

Also, like so many artists, Munch had come to Paris. This was during the Exposition Universelle of 1889 – yes, the exposition which gave Paris (and us) the Eiffel Tower. Forever after that he sung the praises of Paris and France.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Munch, back in Norway, he had to suffer the humiliation of Hitler and his Nazis describing  his work as “degenerate art” but they carted off 71 of his paintings all the same. All but 11 of those stolen paintings eventually made their way back to Norway. One was “The Scream”. Another was “The Sick Child”. “The Scream” is not part of Beaubourg’s exhibition, but the beautiful “The Sick Child” is.

The Sun

My favourite of the paintings on exhibit at Beaubourg is “The Sun”. Unfortunately, the photo here with this article does not do the painting justice: the sun is most beautifully vivid on the painting.

If you do plan to visit the exhibition, I suggest to you that you buy your ticket beforehand on the internet. You can do so directly on Beaubourg’s site and print it out. Having a ticket will prevent you having to line up first outside on the square in front of the center – winter is coming and you risk a long wait out in the rain or even snow – and then at a guichet once you are inside the center. With a ticket you will still have a wait outside on the square but it will be only for a couple of minutes, and once inside you will be able to take the escalator up to the exhibition straightaway.

Sacre Coeur from Beaubourg Center's 6th floor

You also need to know that the view of Paris from any of the center’s six floors is magnificent, and there is a terrace café and restaurant at the top. Prices are reasonable although you pay a little more than in a bistro, but think of the view! And you can have a glass of champagne. And can you think of anything more exciting than a glass of champagne with Paris at your feet? I can’t.

Beaubourg Center is open each day of the week but Tuesday. Opening hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on a Thursday. A ticket costs €12( ($16 / £10).

There are several souvenir shops – the best is in the entrance lobby – and the prices are reasonable. There is also a coffee shop in the entrance lobby. A Cappuccino will rob you of €4 ($5 / £3.50) whereas it will be €2.60 ($3.50 / £2) in a bistro elsewhere in Paris.

Braubourg entrance lobby

Enjoy!

 

 

Edvard Munch

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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