The 6 Art Galleries You Must Visit In Paris

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

There are A LOT of art galleries in Paris, and it is impossible to see them all on your first, second, or even third visit to the city.

So, I’ve put together a list of the top six galleries that you must visit based on the uniqueness of their collections, the space that the art is housed, and their location in the city. (They also all have fantastic museum shops, if you are interested in art books or unique souvenirs!)

Centre Pompidou

I didn't make it to the Centre Pompidou until my third time to the city — and was that ever a mistake! Not only is the exterior of the building a must-see, the museum is home to over 100,000 works created in the 20th and 21st centuries, and an INCREDIBLE view. 

Considered to be Europe’s leading collection of modern and contemporary art (from 1905 until the present day), there are some seriously big names housed in this museum — Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, and Yves Klein to name just a few.

You’ll see all forms of media: paintings, drawing, photography, new media, experimental film, architecture, design, industrial work, and more! (Check out the photos below for some seriously cool pieces.)

Here's what you need to know to plan your visit: 

  • The museum is located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, in the Beaubourg area. It is within walking distance to the river, Les Halles, rue Montorgueil, and the Marais.

  • The museum is open every day (except Tuesdays when it is closed all day) from 11 am to 10 pm, but the exhibitions close at 9 pm.

  • A single ticket for admission to all galleries and the "View of Paris" is €14; a ticket just to see the "View of Paris" (no access to the galleries) is €5. Admission is FREE to all areas of the museum on the first Sunday of every month. 

Check out this post for more information:

15 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit The Centre Pompidou in Paris

The Picasso Museum

Located in the stunning and historic Hôtel Salé, the Musée National Picasso was inaugurated in 1985.

The museum contains 3,500 drawings, engravings, paintings, ceramic works, and sculptures created by Picasso, which were donated to the French government by his heirs when he passed away in lieu of paying inheritance taxes.

You also get some insight into the artist’s personal taste, as some of Picasso’s personal collection is also on display including works by Matisse, Degas, and Cezanne.

Here's what you need to know to plan your visit: 

  • The museum is located at 5 rue de Thorigny.

  • Opening hours are Tuesday to Friday from 10.30 am – 6 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9.30 am – 6 pm

  • Regular admission is 12.50 Euros per person

Musee De L’Orangerie

One of my favourite gallery or museum spaces in the world, the Musee De L'Orangerie is located in Paris on the southwest corner of the Jardin Des Tuileries.

While it has an impressive collection of Impressionist works, the most incredible part about this gallery is the two, huge white oval rooms that were built in 1927, to Monet's specifications, to display his eight-panel series, Decorations des Nympheas, or Water Lilies

Here's what you need to know to plan your visit: 

  • The museum is located at Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, 75001

  • Opening hours are Wednesday to Monday from 9 am – 6 pm

  • Admission is 9 Euros per person (free on the first Sunday of each month)

Check out this post for more information:

Visiting Monet’s Water Lilies at The Musee De L’Orangerie in Paris

Dali Museum

The only museum in France entirely dedicated to the master of surrealism Salvador Dalí, the Dali Paris has a collection of more than 300 incredible artworks that were amassed by Benjamino Levi, one of Salvador Dalí's great collectors and art dealers.

Small, personal, and quirky, the museum sits in a historic building atop a hill in the Montmartre area. The views from a nearby staircase are incredible!

You’ll see paintings, sculptures, etchings, original illustrations from Alice in Wonderland and the Bible, and surrealist objects that “bring to life the peculiar ideas of an insatiable explorer, passionate about atomic science, the Antiquity, the Renaissance, alchemy or religion.”

Here's what you need to know to plan your visit: 

  • The museum is located at 11, rue Poulbot in the heart of Montmartre area of Paris.

  • Admission is 12 Euros per person (children under 8 are free).

  • Open everyday from 10 am until 6:30 pm (last entrance is at 6 pm). In July and August, the museum is open until 8:30 pm (last entrance at 8 pm).

The Louvre

Whether you are a super fan of art and history, or just want to say you've seen the Mona Lisa, a visit to the Louvre is a must-do if you are in Paris.

This fortress turned palace turned gallery is now a massive, sprawling, and overwhelming collection of some of the most important pieces of human history.

Making the most of your trip definitely takes some planning — I've visited the museum twice, and still haven't come close to seeing everything! 

Here are some quick tips for planning your visit: 

  • The museum is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm (closed Tuesdays) and until 9:45 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

  • Admission is 15 Euros per person if purchased at the museum (double check the website for up-to-date pricing).

  • If you only have one day to visit the entire museum, I recommend going on a Wednesday or Friday so that you have the maximum amount of time to explore. You can leave and come back throughout the day, so it gives you a chance to take a break, get some food, or enjoy the surrounding gardens. 

Check out these posts for more information:

Tips For Visiting The Louvre: How to Avoid The Crowds and Make The Most of Your Visit

8 Things to See At The Louvre That Aren’t The Mona Lisa

Musee d’Orsay

The incredible Musee d’Orsay is located in a sun filled train station from the early 1900s and is filled with the country’s collection of paintings, sculptures, and other works that were created between the 1840s and 1914. The vast majority being impressionist masterpieces, and post-impressionist and art nouveau pieces.

If you are a fan of this era of art, I suggest setting aside at least half a day to explore this museum — I got completely lost in the galleries as they were filled with my favourite works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse, and more.

Here are some quick tips for planning your visit: 

  • The museum is open daily from 9:30 am to 6 pm, and until 9:45 pm on Thursdays. It is closed on Mondays.

  • Admission is 14 Euros per person.

  • The museum is located on 62, rue de Lille, across the river from the Louvre Museum.

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Six Art Galleries You Must Visit in Paris
Six Art Galleries You Must Visit in Paris

The Three Graces: Nymphs, Goddesses & Symbols of Feminine Beauty

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

A familiar sight to students of art, and those who have visited any major museum, The Three Graces have been depicted in many different mediums ever since the ancient Greeks were carving them into stone.

Also known as Charities, they are shown as three eternally young, beautiful women gracefully dancing or gently frolicking while holding onto each other’s arms, hands, shoulders, necks, or waists.

They sometimes are seen to be holding vases, fruit, corn, roses or musical instruments as well. And, they are almost always nude, or draped in sheer fabrics, and the two outer figures face the viewer while the middle figure is facing away.

Meeting (The Three Graces), 1912, by Manierre Dawson at The Met in NYC

According to Greek mythology, they were supernatural nymphs and goddesses that were the daughters of Zeus and the sea nymph Eurynome. Their names were Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne, and they were the attendants of Aphrodite — the goddess of love and beauty.

They are considered to be the personifications of beauty, charm, and grace, inspiring others to seek wisdom, love, culture, creativity and generosity.

The image at the top of the post is an ancient Hellenistic sculpture that can be found in the sculpture gallery at the Louvre in Paris, and one of the most popular depictions can be seen in Botticelli’s famous painting Primavera

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Armless Propaganda: The Story of the Venus de Milo

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

The Venus de Milo is one of the most famous statues in the world, but like most famous art, one has to wonder what makes this piece more important than any of the other statues collecting dust in the galleries and storerooms of museums. 

Well, first off, you can’t argue with the fact that she is beautiful.

Artists and critics have long praised the work as being the epitome of graceful female beauty, so much so that her image used to be on the seal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

On the other hand, though, there are many beautiful statues — and many that still have arms. 

Venus de Milo (Aphrodite of Melos), circa 150 BCE

Did she ever have arms?

No, Venus was not created without her upper limbs. She did originally have arms but was found with them already broken off. The buzz created by scholars over the mystery of the placement of her arms and what she may have once held has aided in her popularity. Only adding to the mystery is the fact that fragments found with the statue when it was dug up on the Island of Melos in 1820 have been lost.

The fragments, if reconstructed, would have been from the right arm of the statue and would have shown her holding an apple. Because the fragments were made of stone that was rougher than the rest of the statue, it was concluded that they were from an earlier restoration and so were set aside without being documented properly. They have now disappeared.

Scholars have recently speculated that the fragments were the originals and were carved differently because they would have been above the viewer's line of sight and so did not require a smooth surface (a common sculpting practice at the time of her creation). Without the fragments themselves, however, this can not be proven. 

Who sculpted her?

Adding to her beauty, and the mystery behind her arms, is the fact that is is still not known who actually created the statue and for what purpose. Though it has been speculated that the artist may have been Alexandros of Antioch and she once sat in a high niche in the wall of an ancient city, none of this has been confirmed.

Though all of these facts are interesting, they do not add up to the kind of information that would attract the attention of the rest of the world.

Why is this Venus SO popular?

The main reason that this marble Venus is so recognizable is because of good ‘ol fashioned propaganda.

In 1815, France was forced to return the Medici Venus, which had been stolen by Napoleon Bonaparte, back to the Italians. It was (and still is) regarded as one of the finest classical sculptures in existence and to a country considered to be the art hub of Europe at the time, this was a HUGE blow to the ego.

When the Venus de Milo arrived at the Louvre so soon after the loss of the Medici Venus, French Officials immediately began promoting it as a greater treasure than what they had lost and voila, we now revere and recognize her as one of the most stunning and mysterious statues of the Hellenistic period. 

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What's So Special About The Mona Lisa? The Real Story Behind da Vinci's Famous Painting

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

Mona Lisa, 1503-1506       Leonardo Da Vinci

When my sister recently came home from a trip to Paris she seemed impressed with everything that she had seen — except for the Mona Lisa.

One of the most recognized works of art in the world, reproductions of it usually come in poster sized prints while the original, hung behind thick, bullet proof glass and guarded by a velvet rope is miniature in comparison. 

She commented that in a museum filled with huge, wall-sized works of art, why should she care about something so small that she couldn’t even get close to?

This is a very good question and one that I am sure A LOT of visitors to the Louvre end up asking.

What's so special about the Mona Lisa?

The Renaissance era that Leonardo da Vinci lived in was a time of arts patronage, and artists usually only painted epic works at the request of a wealthy patron (basically someone who requested a certain type of painting and then paid for it).

Patrons valued these artists and usually gave generous commissions, but this meant that the artist had little freedom in what they were creating. Most works from this period were biblical or classical in nature and the patrons themselves were only painted if they were added into the scene. Unless you were a pope, a Medici (an influential family in Florence) or someone equally wealthy, there was little chance of there being a painting done only of you. 

And then there is Mona.

She is painted without a stitch of jewelry (unheard of for women of the era) — not even a wedding ring — and her look is contemporary, not drawing from any classical or biblical references. Women, at the time, were painted to look demure and would never be directly gazing at the viewer. Mona not only stares you down but does so with a smile on her face. It is almost like she is challenging those who dare to look at her. 

For someone like da Vinci, the painter of such revered biblical works like The Last Supper, this is a huge digression from the norm.

To make it all even more mysterious, the real identity of the woman is not known. There is speculation that she was Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant, but there is no direct evidence of this. Many have guessed that the women and the artist were involved in some sort of love affair, but for all we know, the woman in this painting was his housemaid.

Something about her or the painting must have moved him, however, because once it was finished he kept it with him for the rest of his life. 

So, why should you care?

It is not so much the painting itself, but the history behind it that makes the Mona Lisa so special. In a time when the majority of art created was for someone else to appreciate, Leonardo da Vinci created something that was only for himself.

Though tame to us, the style that he painted Mona Lisa in was scandalous for his time and if there is anything to love more than a mystery, it’s a scandal. 

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What's So Special About The Mona Lisa?