On Wednesday, I had an unexpected couple of hours free. Did I choose to start on my list of important things to do? Er.... no. I went into town with pal B and tried to get into the Courbet exhibition at the Musée Fabre instead.
It was going to cost a princely 8€, but I was prepared to pay the price to mooch around at my leisure. On the other hand I was not prepared to pay the price to stand in a queue for half an hour and then be obliged to dash round in twenty minutes. Obviously we had picked the wrong day.
So, what to do. Pal B had taken valuable annual leave off to come and see this exhibition, so I felt we really should do something worthwhile, and not just sit outside a bar on the place de la Comedie guzzling beer, appealing though that was. Opposite the Musée Fabre is the Pavillion, and this summer, the exhibition is photographs by Weegee the Famous.
I had discovered his work last year when I enjoyed a day to myself sauntering round Paris and visited the Mailhol Museum where they were showing a Weegee exhibition. The Montpellier version is probably the same one, maybe one or two extra photos, but essentially what I saw last year. This was no problem to me, however, especially as the exhibition was free.
Weegee took photos of life in New York during the 40s. By the look of things, New York was not a terribly agreable place to live what with drunks all over the place, fires breaking out in buildings everywhere, stultifying summer nights (no air con), snowy winters, deprivation and poverty contrasted with the rich of high society. Clothes didn't seem to get washed much either. Weegee caught it all with a candour that makes his photographs so terribly moving. He captured emotions, from joyful to desperate, curious and indifferent. Life as it was.
My favourite photograph is the one where a group of kids in the middle of a very hot summer's day have found a fire hydrant and turned it on, and are dancing in the water as it pours out under pressure. It's one of his more joyful photos.
Maybe I'll try and get to see Courbet another day, but I can see I'll have to time it well because he is a popular artist, and people are prepared to queue to see his exhibition! The best time is probably as it opens one day in the next couple weeks when everyone has gone back to work and school.
You gotta be sneaky about doing what you want. I don't like exhibitions full of people standing in front of the pictures I want to look at, dodging my footsteps and drifting in front of me. Like they do it on purpose. As I can't order a private viewing, I'll just have to discover when the least popular time is, and go then! Ha! Sneaky, see?