Location | Paris: Meet Field School Blogger Erin Campbell

Erin playing the part of royalty at the Louvre Palace
(Photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)
Tell us a little bit about yourself—school, background, major, reasons for taking this trip, anything else interesting you want to share.

The group enjoying the view of the Eiffel tower from the
Architecture Museum after the visit to L'Orangerie.
(photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)
I’m a 3rd year student from Simon Fraser University and was lucky enough to be allowed on this trip thanks to being in a plethora of Dorothy’s classes. At SFU I’m aiming for a double major in Business (with a concentration in Marketing) and Art and Culture Studies. Lately I have been volunteering as a blogger for the Satellite Gallery and have been writing about and studying the art sphere in Mumbai for the past 4 months. Soon after arriving home I jettisoned off to Europe with this group and have been having an amazing time. I feel very fortunate to have met a group of such amazing people and been able to learn about art with and from them. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip will hold! Vive la France!

What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about Paris so far? 

I have been to Paris before so things didn’t really surprise me. I was delighted to find that I hadn’t forgotten all my French and that the city was just as beautiful as I remembered. However, I’m not used to travelling in a group and am learning how to deal with the benefits and tribulations of being with so many others. It’s impossible to blend in with the locals when you’re with a group of 25 art students with Nikon cameras hanging from their necks. And it’s impossible to get anywhere on time or to make quick decisions but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. It’s truly wonderful to be able to travel and experience Paris with so many like-minded people. I love the discussions and collaboration and I am learning more from them than I could imagine.

Erin and others perform a spontaneous tableau vivant in front of
David's Oath of the Horatii (photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)
Give us some insight into your assigned art work from for the Orsay Museum. After seeing the work in person, what struck you most about it and/or how did the art work’s form, content, and context shift for you when seeing it?

Marie Bashkirtseff, The Meeting (1884)
My assigned image was The Meeting by Marie Bashkirtseff a work and an artist who were completely new to me before this class. I have had a relatively blasé relationship with the painting, but have discovered Marie Bashkirtseff to be a fascinating character – she died young of tuberculosis yet produced an amazing body of work and was one of the few women artists to make it out of obscurity. Seeing The Meeting in real life was thankfully less blasé than I expected. The painting was much larger than I anticipated and was hung high on a wall in a hugely ornate frame. This dramatic treatment of a painting I had previously been indifferent to made me re-evaluate my impression of the piece. The paintings which were hung in the room with The Meeting created an interesting context for the piece. The Meeting is hung above a painting of a wrestling match and this really puzzled me. I couldn’t decide if the choice of proximity was a coincidence or if I was missing the link. Were the boys in Marie Bashkirtseff’s work betting on something the way the spectators in the wrestling match were betting on the outcome? Were the bold colours of the wrestling match meant as a contrast to soft pastels of The Meeting? Would the painting be interpreted differently if it were hung in a room with different paintings (perhaps with some landscapes or some of Renoir’s farm girls)? These are questions I still don’t have satisfactory answers for and I hope to return to the Orsay to learn more.

Today’s activity was at the L’Orangerie and Architecture Museum. What were your impressions? What will be your take away of the experience? Any memorable moments?

Going into the L’Orangerie I had relatively low expectations. Monet was never one of my favourite artists despite his incredible skill with paint. To my surprise I found the Nympheas captivating and was drawn into the world he created of colour and sky in water. My one complaint was the music that was playing in the background – I think it was a Debussy symphony. The music clashed strangely with the paintings and I felt the chosen piece to be overly dramatic for Monet’s peaceful style. My discussions with other students about the works tended to be overwhelmingly about the music and less about the works themselves which was unfortunate because the pieces could have generated more positive discussion had the ambience music not provided a distraction.
Monet's famous water lilies (Nympheas) are arranged in panels at the L'Orangerie. Photos are forbidden,
so these are images taken from Wikipedia free domain.