London art gorge

When in doubt, go to a museum – that’s a mantra that has always served me well when visiting a big city, and especially well on this trip.  I had about a day and a half in London on the tail end of my expedition, and the city’s museums were brimming with blockbuster exhibitions.  It was time…for an art gorge! Continue reading

Musée d’Orsay returns – finally!

Two years in the making, plus one week in the waiting, Musée d’Orsay reopened late this week and I was finally able to see what the hype was all about.  No more daily walks only to be met with a “fermé pour cause de grève” (“closed due to strike”) sign. Continue reading

Happy accidents

For my last week in Paris I’ve compiled an extensive list of all the things I need to do, including places I need to eat at, and little by little I’ve been ticking them off.  Except for today – I ripped an entire page out of the “To Do” notebook and Got. It. Done.

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Of statues in the 7th – bronze, marble and fur

The absolute best museum in Paris is also it’s best bargain – the Musée Rodin and sculpture garden.  There is a formal indoor museum, but since Auguste Rodin is most famous for his beautiful, imposing bronze sculptures (most famously for ‘The Thinker’, above) there is no point to staying indoors when the best stuff is outside, where the artist intended!

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The Death of Marat

A funny thing happened during my trip to Brussels that actually fully justified the time and expense, and it was a complete surprise.  Towards the end of my visit to the Ancient Arts Museum, I stumbled into a room in the back which housed several French paintings.  Almost ignoring it completely, I did notice they had a few by Jacques-Louis David, the preeminent painter on the French Revolution and Napoleonic era, and I quite like his work.

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You know I don’t speak Flemish!

I have no idea why I was so hellbent on going to Brussels.  Since missing my chance on Wednesday, I knew I would regret not taking advantage of all this time in Paris to visit the capital of the European Union.  The refrain of “it’s only an hour twenty by train” was on repeat in my head, so comeback number two was in effect and off I went!

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The Rolla Collection: Photography and

Following is part two of my interview with Phil Rolla, this time discussing his passion for photography and the creation of the museum dedicated to the art form,, just down the hill from him home in Bruzella, Switzerland., housed in a former kindergarten, is currently featuring the work Ruth Hallensleben.  She was a professional photographer who had worked for industrial concerns known to have built up the German war machine in the ’30s.  She shot factories, coal buckets and even wallpaper for corporate catalogs.  However, unlike Leni Riefenstahl, another prominent female German artist and filmmaker from the era, that is where her affiliation with National Socialism ended.  Phil was kind enough to take me on a personal tour of and discuss at length his love affair with photography and collecting philosophy.

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The Rolla Collection: Living with art

I have been so fortunate to been able to visit my Uncle Phil Rolla and his lovely wife Rosella many times over the years. Phil, my dad’s brother, was born in California but moved to Europe in the early ’60s to pursue his dream of applying his engineering degree to the boating industry, at the time centered along the Mediterranean. Ultimately, he establish a business designing and manufacturing the best boat propellers in the world, each handmade and a work of art in their own right.

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Until Tuesday of this week, the Venice Biennale was only something I had read about in Vanity Fair and even then I only understood it to be some sort of big art event where a lot of glamorous folk attend (given the intersection with the Venice Film Festival), staged only every two years.  When it was suggested we make the trip I got very excited to do something I never even considered doing!  I like art!  Glamour too!  Let’s roll!!

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L’arte della Venezia


Yesterday we made the game day decision to hop in the car and head east to Venice, only a 3 hour drive (another great aspect of northern Italy/southern Switzerland – proximity!). The purpose of our last minute excursion was to survey the current Biennale and the periphery exhibitions, such as the Prada Collection. The Prada family has been collecting contemporary art since the ’60s (best exemplified by the above early Donald Judd Conceptual masterpiece) and they’ve installed this temporary show in a magnificent palazzo while they finalize plans for a permanent home in Milan, as designed by Miuccia Prada”s little buddy Rem Koolhaus.

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