When I lived in Rome, a city of course known for it’s world-class museums and a plethora of ancient sculpture and architecture, one of my favorite ways to see art and indeed just pass a quiet rainy afternoon was just researching and walking from tiny church to tiny church, to see the Caravaggios and the Tintorettos and the Raphaels, hidden in little corners sometimes but open and free for any wanderer to see. While I do spend more time in museums than the average person, and love the experience and the treasures they often hold, a visit to a museum can be exhausting and overwhelming, especially someplace huge like the Musei Vaticani, not to mention that it can often be downright unpleasant, depending on the density of tourists in the museum at any particular time.
On the contrary, finding and seeing the art that is just out there in the open, is always precisely at your own pace, almost always uncrowded and unstressed, and I found it to be one of those little-detail things that made me feel truly like I was living in Europe, where these things are just up on the wall, tourist frenzy or not, in a labyrinth of halls at the Vatican or just minding their own business in a little dark church.
Therefore it was not terribly surprising that on a spontaneous Easter weekend trip to Paris, in between trips to the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay, I had a lot of fun finding and photographing some of the incredibly beautiful, clever, and creative art among the streets of Paris — even more literally “out in the open” than the things hidden in churches.
There were the spray-painted stencils, of little cupids updated for the 21st century version of love and warfare with machine guns instead of bows and arrows, and a cute Batman and Robin duo adorning (marring?) a wooden door in the Marais.
There were elaborate chalk drawings of a pair of seahorses on the black facade of an closed shop, even signed in one corner by the artist. A little park behind a metal fence had the black and white profile of a little boy carrying flowers pasted up onto a wall among the trees and bushes.
And of course there was the simple, but creatively executed.