For the first of two day-long trips in France, all students traveled to Nîmes and Pont du Gard. “I could live here, it has a nice atmosphere,” a fellow student said about the city. Being a graduate student, I had a mission to compare two very different museums the Carré d’Art and Musée des Beaux-Arts. First, I went to the Carré d’Art, which is a contemporary art museum constructed of glass, concrete, and steel. Upon entering the structure, there is an open space where I notice clean lines of the structure with glass windowpanes, white walls, and a white floor tile. As I walk further in, the massive staircase invites me up to the second floor. As I walk up, I am reminded of the stairs in the library of SCAD Savannah because of the glass steps it has. On a big white wall just off from the stairs, I see an introduction of the exhibition that is on view. This plays as a backdrop to the admission desk I come to after walking up the stairs. I enter the exhibit to my right, which is free with a student I.D. The exhibit is of photographed portraits and video installation. The contemporary space fits the photographs that are on view. Each photograph has tension with the subject and is spaced equally in simple frames. As I start my way back to the first floor a plethora of people come from the level below the first floor. This museum has underground levels like the Louvre and the downstairs houses the local library.
Next, I make my way past Les Arénes, the massive coliseum that sits in the heart of Nîmes. When I get to Musée des Beaux-Arts, I’m greeted with a more traditional, French architecture. Walking into the museum the atrium is filled with a large Roman mosaic depicting “The Wedding of Admetes.” This room also houses statues and large landscape paintings hang on each wall. The atrium is lit with natural light from the massive skylight from above. On the second floor, the walls of each gallery are painted colors of blue-grey to green to red. I find this museum is more inviting than Carré d’Art because the atmosphere is warmer and welcoming. Most of the paintings have big gold decorative ornamentation, but some had contemporary frames with clean edges that were black. As I make my way through the galleries of Musée des Beaux-Arts, I see my fellow painting companions sketching in their notebooks. The cracking sounds of the wood floor and the crown molding in the room fits with the qualities of a traditional art museum.
We head north to Pont du Gard, the Roman aqueduct that supplied the water to Nîmes and other nearby cities. Strolling on the wide pathways to the structure, I was moved by its height and construction. The views from ground level made me marvel at the immensity of its structure. As I walked along the river, people paddled in kayaks and swam in clean clear waters. Students eventually settled along the bank by an open arch of the aqueduct. Some found access for a refreshing swim as they dove off a 20-foot cliff. I really enjoyed my short stay and could easily have stayed for a few more hours.
By: Kimberly Bates, MFA painting student
Photos Credit: Kimberly Bates