It is not possible to be dejected for long in a museum as good as the Pompidou. A short shuffle and a sharp right turn and there was one of the most exciting and intriguing European artists waiting for me, Asger Jorn. The display essentially focuses on the Situationist movement of which he was a progenitor. Jorn met Guy Debord in 1954 and together the two of them took forward the revolutionary political and artistic principals of the movement. Before the Situationists Jorn was a founding member of Cobra. Cobra was the last major cohesive avant garde art movement of the twentieth century, and the men of Cobra knew how to chuck the paint about, soaring, singing canvasses, brilliant. Jorn rides high with me along side Courbet and a couple of others who really believed art was an essential element in the struggle to bring about social and political change. Many of my generation were infected, affected by the political unrest and riots in Paris in May 1968. Ripples spread out from Paris and washed through the universities and art colleges of Europe, the ideas of Jorn and Debord lie at the heart of these struggles for change. So Jorn saved my Pompidou day and tuned my fiddle.
Following day to the Musee d'Orsay, you would have to be a pretty jaundiced fellow not to get a lift from strolling through the Tuileries and crossing the Seine to greet the Orsay elephants. Always a joy, and the first call has to be communion with the finest haunch to be found in any museum anywhere, Lautrec is the master. New finds to savour, Luce, Desvallieres, Minne, a wonderful Hodler I had never seen before. Tucked away in the Nouveau rooms are the most delicious Malliol maidens, these are the girls who when the struggle loses its flavour will scoop you up in their capable arms and help you up the lane, bless them.
AGED AND AWKWARD