Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The last Saturday in Rodez: Musée Soulages

On my final Saturday in Rodez a few weeks ago (which at the time, I didn't know it would be my last), Damien and I went to the market in the morning, followed by the Musée Soulages.

At the market you can find fruit, veggies, cheese, sausage, fish, meat, bread, flowers, plants, and probably other things I'm forgetting. It really is awesome and incredible that in a town of this size (~25,000), they have this market each week.

In fact, it's not even the only weekly market in Rodez—there are two others in different locations on two different days of the week. But I think this is definitely normal for France.

On our way back to the apartment to drop off our market purchases, we luckily passed (and noticed) this hilarious sight: 

Parked right in front of the butcher on our street was this crazy van, with a dog sitting up in the driver's seat, taking the wheel. No human in sight.


Musée Soulages

Pierre Soulages, currently 96 years old, is an internationally-known French artist who was born in Rodez, France. He and his wife donated over 500 works to the town (valued at $54.7 million), such that a permanent museum could be built in Rodez to feature his work. The museum officially opened in 2014, after years of planning and constructing.

Here's a really quick bit of information about Soulages and the museum, from Aveyron's tourism page.

And here's a slightly longer article (~5 min. read), which is another nice intro to the museum and artist.

I hardly took any pictures of Soulages's works, although that's what filled the bulk of the museum. He is well known for being intrigued by the color black. Several of his works use only that single color—no shades. 

With different textures, natural light reflects off the paintings, giving it the appearance of being made of several different colors, which you can see in the two all-black paintings below:

I didn't understand most of what I saw, nor comprehend how this stuff can be worth so much. It's frustrating, but that's often how I feel about art when I'm in museums. "What does this mean? What is it supposed to represent? Why is it so valuable?"

Jesus Rafael Soto

What I really dug, on the other hand, was the museum's temporary exhibit (Dec. 12, 2015 - April 30, 2016) of Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto (b. 6/5/1923 d. 1/14/2005)—who I had never heard of before entering.

Almost all of the art hung on the walls had actual 3D elements attached to them, like this one with a curled white wire attached to the canvas:

Or here's another with some squares actually sticking out of the painting.

I liked how he would paint very small vertical and horizontal lines on backgrounds or parts of pieces, which gave you the illusion of movement as you looked at the paintings. Here's the same work at a different angle:

Because of the "eye illusion" stuff, it was really fun to walk around back and forth while looking at some of these—to check it out from each angle.

Here's another example. The following five photos are all taken of the same piece, simply at different angles and closeness:

Neat, eh? You can't get the full effect from these pictures though—it was way cooler in real life.

Here are some other pieces:

Oh yeah, and he's also made many crazy awesome 3D pieces, some of which were on display in this exhibit.

As you can imagine, these were also fun to view from different angles and locations.

This blue one seen below is the one piece you could actually walk through—so that kid you see is running through the small hanging blue tubes.


What: Soulages Museum
Where: Jardin du Foirail, avenue Victor Hugo, Rodez (FRANCE)
Hours: Check the site linked to above for current hours; they change every couple of months. Just click "Informations pratiques," and look under the heading "Horaires."
Closed on: January 1, May 1, November 1, December 25
Cost: Normal ticket - 9 euros, reduced ticket - 5 euros, under 18/job searchers/students - free
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