Last evening I was trolling through my photographs, trying to delete fuzzy, boring, or useless ones, when I came across a poster for a show at Musée Guimet that ends tomorrow. Whew, we almost missed a wonderful show. To top it off, when we arrived late this morning we discovered l’entrée was gratuite. Today is the first Sunday of the month. Oddly enough, the last time I went to this museum (2008) I also arrived serendipitously on a first Sunday.
Émile Guimet’s mother was an artist and his father an industrialist who invented an artificial blue colorant, which gave him the financial means to invest in a new metal called aluminum and amass a fortune. Though not much interested in the business, Guimet, their only son, took it over at age 24 in 1860. His passion was the arts. He traveled extensively and acquired an astounding collection of prints, sculptures, textiles, pottery, jewelry, and other works from many parts of Asia. He initially set up a museum in Lyon, but eventually moved it to Paris, where he constructed a building especially to show the collection. At its core is a high, round, domed library.
We went to see a temporary exposition of Tsutsugaki, a rice-paste-resist dying technique akin to wax resist. Drawings (gaki) are applied with cones (tsutsu, from tiny to as long as my forearm) before the cotton cloth is dyed indigo. For more elaborate effects, katazome (stencil-based resist dying) is utilized. A third technique is sashiko (sewing multiple, overlapping layers together) used to create protective clothing.
>> Tsutsugaki and katazome bedspread with treasures motif. Firefighters were considered heroes in Edo, a city built primarily of wood, where fires were frequent. This sashiko jacket and helmet would have been soaked in water as further protection from flames (though, until chemical warfare was developed, grease, sugar, and steam were the three most serious burn agents, so I think a man could have been poached in one of these).
Another temporary exposition featured the block prints of Hiroshige (1797-1858). These included parts of series, such as sea life, views of Edo, and 69 or 53 stages in different pilgrimages. One of his accordion-fold sketch books was also on display, complete with pasted-in changes.
>> Hiroshige: Shrimps and mackerels. 53 stages of the Tôkaidô: Odawara. Sketch book.
There is too much to see in a single visit. We did not get beyond (or see all of) the permanent collections of Japanese and Korean art before lunch called to us.
>> Portrait of a Zen monk (16th c.; cypress wood, lacquer, polychrome, gold, with rock crystal eyes). Avalokite´svara of 1000 arms, the original multi-tasker (Korea, 10th-11th c.; fonte de fer [cast iron?].
The 16th arrondissement between l’Arc de Triomphe and the river is not the most fertile ground for open restaurants on a Sunday afternoon. After looping past Square Thomas Jefferson and Place des États Unis, where we came upon an interesting homage, we eventually found a boulangerie that was doing a brisk business and bought a chicken baguette, followed by a pistachio Paris-Brest. Then we decided to leave the rest of the Musée Guimet for another day. We took a couple of buses home and stopped in at our boulangerie for a baguette traditione graine and a classic Paris-Brest, just for the sake of comparison. The classic was sublime, but I think we need to give the pistachio another chance, since we ate it cold instead of at room temperature.
>> Give thanks to American dentist Horace Wells, inventor of surgical anesthesia 1844-1848.
- The Musée Guimet in Paris Hosts the Japanese Season: Part I (japanartnews.wordpress.com)