Saturday, July 05, 2008

Musée des Beaux Arts de Nantes

Today I visited the Musée des Beaux Arts in Nantes. It has something of an odd atmosphere. The building itself is gorgeous- ideal really for looking at art, with lots of sky lights and large open rooms with creaking wooden floors- and the art on display is all very nice. But, like a lot of other things in Nantes, it seems semi-deserted. There were more staff than visitors there. Actually, I saw the same three German tourists four times and I'm fairly certain we were otherwise alone on this lovely Saturday afternoon. There were a few teenagers hanging out on the front steps, but they did not come inside. No cars drove past.

Anyway, the collection was good and fairly well-organized. There was some conceptual art on display on the ground floor that was hit or miss. I have to wonder if galleries couldn't save money and still appear "cutting edge" by simply moving their office supplies to the gallery and giving them esoteric title placards. In fact, one "piece" actually was an older metal office desk with chair. And, maybe it's unfair, but when I see a piece that consists (seriously) of three wooden stools stacked on top of each other (sadly, not entitled "Stool Sample"), it's hard for me not to want to push them over and run off giggling.

But, aside from the conceptual art junk shop on the main floor, there is a mass of really great art in the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts. There is an impressive amount of impressionism that is sure to... um, impress... It also has one of most entertaining statues I've ever seen, of an angry gorilla carrying off a nude woman, in any gallery. Anyway, I'll link to some images of art in Nantes, since I'm guessing most of you won't be visiting this area any time soon.

To start, here's a painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme which is in Nantes. Gérôme was one of the leading Orientalist painters, along with painters like Ingres and Delacroix, and he has a number of great paintings of the Near East. This one, entitled the Prisoner from 1861, is one of two that are in Nantes. The other, a view of the plain of Thebes, is good too, but harder to find online!

1 comment:

Hollis said...

This is awesome!