The wonders of Musee Guimet

Posted on September 17, 2017 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

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Undoubtedly, Paris is a city with many outstanding world-class museums and art galleries, but sometimes the sheer volume of visitors at Louvre, Musee D'Orsay and Grand Palais is simply overwhelming and off-putting. Hence, I would rather spend my time lingering at some excellent but lesser known or less popular museums. And one of my favourites is Le musée national des arts asiatiques - Guimet/ Musee Guimet, which houses one of the largest collections of Asian art outside of Asia.

This museum was established by Emile Guimet in 1889, and it showcases 5000 years of Asian art with a vast array of sculptures, murals, decorative objects, ceramics, paintings, furniture, textiles, graphic prints and manuscripts etc. It is easy to spend a few hours here, and it rarely gets very crowded.

During my visit, I was very pleasantly surprised by French contemporary artist Prune Nourry's exhibition "HOLY, Carte Blanche to Prune Nourry". Throughout the museum, installations of her past ten years' work could be seen. I thought the most impressive was the giant Buddha statue that has been broken up, and strategically placed on different floor levels like old ruins. On the top floor was the head of the Buddha (where one could walk into it through the ears), a hand on the floor below, and the feet were placed on the ground floor, all of which were covered with red incense sticks. This intentionally fragmented installation reminds me of the blown up Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan. It is poetic and mesmerising.

Her Terracotta Daughters sculptures created in 2013, consisted of an army of 108 girls, the eight original ones of which will be shown in the museum, refers to the first emperor’s terracotta soldiers, and is a tribute to the millions of girls that will not be born because
of pre-birth selection.

 

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"HOLY, Carte Blanche to Prune Nourry" exhibition

 

Japanese graphic artist Hokusai's sold-out exhibition at British Museum revealed that traditional Japanese woodblock printing still fascinates the Western audience in this day and age. Unfortunately, the exhibition was so packed that I found myself constantly being blocked by older women who did not want others to get close to the prints or paintings.

Luckily, the exhibition "Paysages japonais, de Hokusai à Hasui" enabled me to enjoy Hokusai's famous prints up close without crowds nor disruption. Aside from Hokusai, there were also prints by other famous ukiyo-e artists like Hiroshige, Utamaro, Kuniyoshi and Hasui. The exhibition also showcased some rare vintage photographs of Japan, which were extremely fascinating.

 

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The "Paysages japonais, de Hokusai à Hasui" exhibition

 

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The "113 Ors d’Asie" exhibition

 

Even though the British Museum has an excellent collection of ancient Buddhist art and sculptures, I think Musee Guimet's collection is quite staggering too. I particularly love the ancient Buddhist sculptures from Afghanistan that were evidently influenced by the Greeks. The hair and the draping of the robes were more Western than Eastern, which demonstrated that ancient cultural exchanges did have an strong impact on the development of Buddhist art in Asia.

 

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Not far from the museum is Hôtel Heidelbach, a well-hidden annexe that houses a Buddhist Pantheon gallery, a lovely Japanese garden and a tea house for tea ceremonies. Entry to this gallery and garden is free, and it should not be missed.

 

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The Japanese garden and tea house at Hôtel Heidelbach

 


This post was posted in Exhibitions, Travel, Paris, Art, Anything Japanese, Gardens & parks, Japanese art, Asian art, contemporary, Sculptures, French art and was tagged with paris, gardens, Japanese art, sculptures, Asian art, Buddhist art, French art, Musee Guimet, Prune Nourry

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