Paris for Fashionistas – “Impressionisme et la Mode” at Musée d’Orsay

Impressionisme et la Mode” at Musée d’Orsay is a multifaceted show, featuring paintings by Manet, Monet, Caillebotte and other Impressionist painters; beautifully conserved 19th century dresses from Musée Galliera; photographs and lithographs from Paris department stores; and, to fully recreate the fashion world of the late 1800s, chairs marked with names as if for a fashion show, and quotes from Zola and Baudelaire.

Seen in this context, paintings like Manet’s “La Dame à l’Eventail” and “Le Balcon” take on new life. Works by women artists Berthe Morisot, Camille Corot, Eva Gonzoles, and Mary Cassatt lend female perspectives to the period and the dress. Men’s fashions are treated, too, with works such as Caillebotte’s wonderful “Au Café” and Fantin Latour’s “Un Atelier aux Batignolles”.

The collection brings together custom, culture, fashion and art. It renders the world of the Impressionists not just visible, but sensorial, experiential.

Afterward, shop the excellent museum bookstore for books on fashion through time, mother-of-pearl buttons, and hats by contemporary milliner Marie Mercie. Until Jan 20, 2013.

Musée d’Orsay Undergoes Renovation

The Impressionist wonder, Musée d’Orsay, has closed its top floors as part of a major renovation. The changes will bring improved lighting, increased security, and better visitor flow when Level 5 reopens in March, 2011.

Major museum holdings are still on display in specially redesigned rooms on the ground floor. Manet’s “Déjeuner sur l’Herbe” and “Olympia” remain at the d’Orsay, along with the large realist paintings of Courbet and the early works of Monet and Cézanne; Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works; and paintings by Ingres, Delacroix, Degas.

About 240 works will travel during the renovation. The De Young Museum in San Francisco will show Van Gogh’s “Bedroom at Arles,” Whistler’s Mother, and Manet’s “Fife Player” as part of its exhibit “Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces From the Musée d’Orsay,” May 22 – Sept. 6, 2010.

A second show at the De Young will focus on “Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces From the Musée d’Orsay,” Sept. 25, 2010 – Jan. 18, 2011.

The d’Orsay will continue to hold temporary expos, including an excellent temporary show, Art Nouveau Revival, which looks at the influence of Surrealism in France, psychedelic art in the US, and other art movements on Art Nouveau. Until Feb 4, 2010.