The Orsay Museum in San Francisco
Entering the home of a serious art collector and seeing works by the likes of Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Henri Matisse, Donald Judd, Lucien Freud and Cy Twombly is a sublime experience and one I’ve not enjoyed often.
Seeing great works in real people’s homes is wholly different than seeing them in the more formal setting of an art gallery or museum.
My recent visit to San Francisco allowed me to enjoy this kind of extraordinary visit together with a select group of the American Friends of the Musée D’Orsay who were on an art trip for donors. The AFMO was started just a few years ago with a goal of raising funds for various projects and to enhance the exchange of artworks from the Orsay Museum and the L’Orangerie to other museums around the world. In addition, funds are used to help both institutions repair, restore and acquire art for its collections.
Luckily it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get involved and be part of this growing organization so you too can be invited to enjoy some of these exclusive experiences. Joining starts at $250 (or for a limited time less) depending on your age and in return you get priority passes to both museums, which means no waiting in line, as well as invitations to special events and tours.
Give a bit more and you get free passes and VIP curator lead tours when the museum is closed to the public.
This most recent trip by the AFMO to the bay area included three separate visits to collectors homes coordinated by Sotheby’s, a dinner at a local Bistro, as well as an invitation to the opening of the Pierre Bonnard show at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Participants also visited the special exhibition at the fabulous Pier 24 Photography museum with curators. It was a boondoggle for art enthusiasts, yet one doesn’t need to be an expert in art nor a resident of Paris to enjoy this kind of week.
A quite large quantity of all of the Bonnard paintings that are part of the blockbuster Bonnard show going on now at the Legion are on loan from the Orsay. I had forgotten or perhaps I never really understood until I saw so many in one place how incredible Monsieur Bonnard’s work is.
Some pieces appear to be quite contemporary and certainly well ahead of their time. His use of color was extraordinary and his numerous nudes were memorable and unique.
In addition to exclusive trips and curator led tours, the AFMO invites members and guests to their art and wine Gala this October in Paris from the 20-23rd for a long weekend of wine tasting with the Académie du Vin from Bordeaux which will include private collection and museum visits as well as an exclusive Gala dinner at the Orsay in its stunning ballroom celebrating the opening of the Second Empire show. For an invitation of this magnitude at a similar museum in New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco one would have to spend far more. If you are a Paris lover and interested in art, the AFMO is a wonderful way to get involved and to meet fellow francophiles.