Around the corner and up the street from us are two really impressive Beaux Arts buildings, the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. Both were built around 1900 for an industrial exposition. The Grand Palais has the the second largest glass-ceiling in Europe and the vast space beneath it was used for the exhibition. In the great Beaux Arts tradition, it’s festooned with heroic bronze and stone statues, and the sheer muscularity of the building must have impressed visitors from other countries who France was hoping to impress with their industrial prowess.
The Petit Palace, right across the street and opposite the entrance to the Grand Palais, was built as an art museum and has been owned by the city since the time of its building. The galleries are free to the public and they are a display of some quite important art right alongside some really beautiful, but probably not as important, art from the 19th century and before.
The Grand Palais is used for a whole host of exhibitions now. There are many spaces other than the great atrium in the middle of the building or such shows. When we went there was a science show for kids about dinosaurs, where hundreds of kids were scurrying around the spectacular main atrium.
Picasso.mania was a show that opened just a few days earlier. It’s a large show of Picasso works and works by the great artists who were influenced by him. Among them were Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, and many others too numerous to mention. Ranged out over two floors, the show also had movie scenes that featured Picasso’s paintings, letters to and from and about Picasso, and much more non-art information. But the main attraction were hundreds of paintings, sculptures and objets d’ art either by Picasso or the artists who fell under his spell. It was really quite wonderful. Here’s an article from Artnet news about the show (Click Here)
The Petit Palais is across the street from the Grand Palais and we decided we had enough steam left to visit there and think about visiting a pair of shows that were going there. One, called Fantastique! Kuniyoshi, the Demon of Prints featured the work of a 19th century Japanese artist whose work did indeed travel into the world of the fantastic. The other show, called Fantastique! Visionary Prints from Goya to Redon formed the second half of our time at the Petit Palais. The work of Goya and Gustave Dore were our main interest in going, so I have to confess we kind of traipsed through the masterpieces of Kuniyoshi, though we couldn’t help but stop and take in some of his work, which was truly amazing.
In addition to Goya and Dore, there were journeys to the dark side by other great artists, including Rembrandt, Durer, Delacroix and others. These were all engravings, and the mostly black and white of the engravings only served to make the dark subjects more menacing and intriguing. This was an incredible show.
If you’re ever in Paris, a visit to the Petit Palais should be a must. There is no charge to view their regular galleries, the main hall of the building is a Beaux Arts miracle, a truly wonderful space to be in, and there’s even a pleasant cafe that spills out from two floors of seating inside into a central courtyard outside. Food is reasonable and good. And the work in the galleries is nowhere near second rate. You’ll see Renoir, Degas, and many other masters of primarily 19th century French art.
But the two Fantastiques were indeed fantistique!
A nice afternoon to be sure. Picasso and a host of 20th century greats, two more shows that explored the world of dark fantasies, and two big Paris landmarks!
Petit Palais Video (Click Here)
Grand Palais Video (Click Here)
Grand Palais Views
Petit Palais Views