Musee d'Orsay art heads abroad during renovation

Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:26pm EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Life!) - Art from the City of Light is coming to the City by the Bay.

In its largest-ever such loan, Paris' famed Musee d'Orsay is lending out some of the most revered masterpieces of 19th and early 20th century art in two exhibits that will both visit San Francisco as they tour the globe next year.

"It's like a walk through the perfect picture book of Impressionism and post-Impressionism," said John Buchanan Jr., director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, whose de Young Museum will showcase the two exhibits back-to-back.

The Musee d'Orsay, the world's largest repository of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art, is closing half its galleries starting in November to prepare for a year-long renovation of the Paris museum that turns 25 in 2011.

Rather than send most works to storage, the president of the museum, Guy Cogeval, opted for the unprecedented tour.

"Since the opening of the Orsay, we have never sent so many masterpieces all together," Cogeval said during a visit to San Francisco. "We can be proud of such a selection because it represents perfectly the Musee d'Orsay."


The first exhibit, "The Birth of Impressionism" focuses on 1874, the year of the first organized exhibition in Paris by a group of independent artists who sought a more spontaneous way to depict modernity.   Continued...

<p>Visitors look out through the glass clock face at the Musee d'Orsay towards the Sacre Coeur in Paris November 3, 2005. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>