How Much for that Picasso in the Window?

Since some unknown someone doled out $179.4 million for a Picasso on Monday, today seemed like a good day to go to the Musée Picasso Paris where 5,000 pieces wrought by the Spanish master of cubism are on display.

Preferring softly colored water lilies to brightly colored geometric shapes, I suggested we stop by the Musée Marmottan Monet on the way.


The Marmottan is in a beautiful part of Paris, the 16th arrondissment, that oozes old money. The museum is fronted by a park, Jardins du Ranelagh.


Touring the house alone, is well worth the 11 euro entrance fee.  It was a hunting lodge in the early 1800s, but in 1883 Paul Marmottan inherited the house and decided to bequeath it to the Acadèmie des Beaux-Arts, along with his art collection, upon his death.


Thanks, Paul!

Subsequent donations, particularly the one by Monet’s son, Michel, in 1966 really put this small museum on the map. Thanks to Michel, Marmottan houses the world’s biggest collection of Monet’s works.

Yet, the museum does contain a couple of  Picasso’s works. So, John got a tiny fix as he prefers bold cubes to effervescent pastoral scenes. I still back Team Impressionism, including Bertha Morisot, the first female impressionist. Her grandkids bequeathed the collection they had inherited from her to the Marmottan.

Yet, my favorite exhibit was the temporary display La toilette, naissance de l’intime (The toilet, the intimate birth) which used art to trace the personal hygiene habits (or lack thereof) of women through the ages. I’m no art connoisseur, but I have a sneaky suspicion that some of what I enjoyed was a previous century’s version of soft porn.

Speaking of obscenities, don’t you find it ironic that we live in a society that pays obscene amounts of money for the finite fruits of creativity, but does very little to encourage or support the next creator of it? Our system rewards the moneychangers (e.g., hedge fund managers) over the creators (e.g., artists).

By the time we exited the Marmottan, we decided to postpone our visit to the Musée Picasso Paris. We headed back to our neighborhood beside the St. Martin Canal for lunch.


We dropped into a sidewalk cafe to enjoy the cuisine.

And headed home just as a light rain set in. Picasso will wait for another day.

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