19.1.11

A Visit to the Museum: Part 2 -- Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay

In early December a friend and I decided we would take our children (an eight year old, a seven year old, a six year old, a two year old and a 5 month old, collectively) on an excursion to see an exhibit at the DeYoung Museum -- The exhibit was titled Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay. In addition to paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin & Cezanne, there were paintings by Degas, Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, the Nabis Pierre Bonnard,Vuillard & Rousseau. This is the only time these paintings will be shown as a collection in the United States.

Oh, bold intrepid mamas! It was quite an adventure! In we trooped, a happy little parade, skipping through the endless security barriers... and out we trooped again three (3!) times for restroom visits. I'm afraid we sorely tested the patience of the security guards (but secretly, inside, I'm sure they were quite amused.)

My friend and her daughters loved the joyful paintings by Renoir...

My seven year old son loved the mysterious paintings by Rousseau...

And seeing this little painting by Degas called Dancers Climbing the Stairs made me cry... It was hard for me to understand, at the time, why I had such a strong emotional response. I think it was the experience of seeing these original works of art, hanging on the walls only 2 or 3 feet in front of me. The paintings, in person, were so very different from viewing photographs of them in books. The photos in books and reproduction posters are flat. It's impossible to see the textures and layers of paint, and the textures and layers are what brings them to life. I felt like I could sense the breath & brush strokes of the artist... it felt that close and intimate...

We made it about 3/4 of the way through the exhibit when the children themselves were inspired to create art, so out came the paper and pencils I keep stashed in my bag. Sprawled across the elegant, shining parquet floors of the exhibit hall, the children set themselves to work while the well-heeled museum patrons stepped lightly over and around them. I expected a museum guard to march over and grump at us, but the guards only nodded and smiled indulgently. The museum goers, themselves, paused between viewing paintings by Vuillard and Rousseau to admire the work of the children and offer compliments.

After we were done in the museum, we went out into the cold, dusky twilight to play in the fallen leaves...

And run around...

and around...

And around...


And around, once again, the big fountain in the center of the beautiful Golden Gate Park Music Concourse...

It was a wonderful day.

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