To embark on an exploration of the arts in Paris is to embark on a discovery of the world's greats. Ever since the Middle Ages, Paris has been considered the spiritual centre of art in the western world. It was to Paris that artists were drawn and looked to for intellectual and cultural inspiration, and it was here that the great painters of history arrived and set about changing the world and the way we see things.
The Louvre appears on any list of things to do in Paris. Home to literally thousands of classic and modern masterpieces, Musée du Louvre houses the largest collection of art in the world. Around 6 million visitors pass through its doors every year to see paintings by Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Cezanne, to name but a few. In more recent years, one of the most popular attractions to be found at the Louvre is the sound walk based on Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code'.
Not far away the Musée d'Orsay showcases work by Delacroix, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Guaguin and Cezanne, the work of the Impressionists taking centre stage. The Orsay is located in an old train station building which in itself is an architectural marvel to behold.
As one of the most influential artist of the 20th century, it seems fitting that a museum dedicated to Pablo Picasso should be found in Paris. The Musée Picasso contains over 3000 works from all of Picasso’s major periods, plus the artist’s own personal collection and momentoes of his life.
The Musée Rodin contains a startling number of marble, bronze, plaster, wax and terra cotta sculptures, complimented by ceramics, paintings and drawings. The sculpture is spread pleasantly through the museum and a garden so that the visitor can suddenly happen upon such great works as The Kiss and The Thinker.
L'Espace Dali, dedicated to the work of surrealist artist Salvadore Dali, provides a portal into the creative process that produced some of Dali's most famous works. It contains a fine collection of his paintings, drawings, cartoons, and sculptures.
As well as celebrating legends of the past, Paris embraced modern art and looks to the future with such modern institutions as the Centre Pompidou. Pompidou Center - containing the National Museum of Modern Art - is in itself a sight to see, being an architectural vision based on a building turned inside out. All the interior elements such as water pipes and escalators are displayed on the outside of the Centre Pompidou.
Art in Paris is everywhere, on the streets and in homes, business centres and the thousands of exhibitions. More than this there is an appreciation in French culture that the artist should be valued and that art should be enjoyed by everyone in society.
In truth, you’ll have a pretty hard time avoiding art in Paris even if you try. The great Paris museums and galleries of art should not be missed as there are few, if any, collections in existence that even come close to those of Paris.