The Best Art In Paris: The Locals, Not The Louvre

Today is our last day in Paris and I am pleased to say that I feel like I have had proper “anthropological” experiences outside of the tourist obligations. We have enjoyed people-watching and chats with strangers (as best we could…finding that my limited Spanish was a big help in communicating with the French), walks through local markets and proper exposure to various parts of Paris history and “underbelly”.

We did also make a point to visit at least one requirement: The Louvre. And while we still plan on popping by the Impressionists at the D’orsay, I will say that our Louvre experience was less than awe-striking. Well, let me take that back a little…the architecture of the building itself and the sheer concentration of Asian tourist mobs with flashbulbs was awe-inspiring. The collection, however vast, was not-so-much.

Not to sound like an unappreciative “ugly American”, but I have seen far better exhibitions in New York’s Museums; of both Antiquities and other art collections. Far more prolific and diverse. The only collection I can say truly outpaced was the sculptures. I would say the same for those that I have seen in Italy as well.

But as for the paintings, they are mostly am homage to Jesus, “the gods”, royalty and nobility. These works, by my sociological analysis, were all commissioned to remind people of whom they ought to revere and the consequences of not doing so. Art in the early centuries through the 1800s seems to be a demonstration of affluence and not a feat of daring.

I imagine and hope that I will see some more inspired and “modern” work at the D’Orsay. However, the anthropologist in me has found the locals to be far more artistic in their lived experience through their style and demeanor and they way they bring panache to the mundanities of life. I have already shared some of my favorite images, but here are a few more favorites before we head off for our last day on the streets of Paris.

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