1120: “We’ll Always Have Paris”

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A few nights ago I watched (for the umpteenth time) the film Casablanca – easily one of the best films of all time. Sometimes I just watch it with the sound off – just to appreciate all the more the lighting or the framing or the quick-cut editing and close-ups in the climactic scene, etc.,etc.

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This time the sound was on. And when I heard that memorable line “We’ll always have Paris” I suddenly realized that it was exactly two years to the day that Cindy and I were there for a show I was in. It was a memorable trip.

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Yesterday I found myself revisiting my Paris library. And, in doing so, I found a number of fossil images that I had originally overlooked – all taken at the Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy.

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So today I have chosen to intermix these new fossil pieces with some of my favorite images of Paris. I hope you enjoy them.

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I’ll leave you now with one of my favorite props set against the shell of a horseshoe crab. Yeah – my studio shelves are full of strange things!

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Thanks for the visit.

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The Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy, Paris

IMG_7682_skullsMore from this fascinating museum. At every turn there were visual surprises of all types – from the wonderful architecture and embellishments to the many, varied collections. And, while I have many other images from this recent trip as well as new local work to get busy on, I find it hard to break away from this particular treasure trove of images.

IMG_7642_01_LR_12For brevity sake, I had previously referred to this museum as the Paris Natural History Museum. To be precise, it is officially titled the “Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy,” one of fourteen sites (four of which are in Paris) that comprise the French National Museum of Natural History.

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The view from the third floor, looking down on dinosaurs and other extinct animals. That third floor balcony displays the invertebrate collection.

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IMG_7441_01_LRA side room on the third floor filled with ammonoids. In fact, that large object on the wall, next to the massive moose antlers, is an equally massive ammonoid,

IMG_7451_01_LR_10A fine example of the architectural detailing present throughout the museum. The organic plantlike stair details are a fine segue into these lovely crinoids.

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And one final view from another museum, the Musee D’Orsay.

_MG_1019_01_LR_12Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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The “Sistine Chapel” of Fossils

Yes, that’s how I described it on that Spring day in Florence when Dr. Elisabetta Cioppi threw open the door to her fossil collection. Well, not exactly her collection, but rather the invertebrate fossil collection that she oversees with her associate, Dr. Stefano Dominici, at the Florence Museum of Natural History. I referenced this trip in an earlier post (Italy and Fossils) when I spoke of my gratitude to these kind and wonderful people for permitting me to photograph objects from their collection.

Endless rows of old glass display cases with spindly, skinny wooden legs filled the rooms on the other side of the door. Each case was filled with small, opened boxes. Each box contained invertebrate fossils of varying sizes and shapes. And each box also contained an identification card with script beautifully hand written in pen and ink (whose own antiquity almost rivalled that of the fossils!). Like so much else in Florence, this assemblage, as well as the other sections of the Museum, is the result of centuries of collecting. Given that Leonardo da Vinci was known to study fossils (in the areas around Florence, in fact) and even the Roman historian, Livy, studied fossils from the Italian countryside, I could only wonder who might have once held these objects that I now had access to.

For those unfamiliar, as I was until more recently, most natural history museums seldom display more than a handful of invertebrate fossils. They generally don’t draw attention (and crowds) like dinosaurs do. That said, many incredible collections do exist in the back rooms. Indeed, that’s the case for museums of almost all types. (I’ve heard some great stories about the storage areas of the Metropolitan Museum in New York). Back to Florence – After a delightful visit and tour with Elisabetta and Stefano Cindy and I left to see Michelangelo’s “David” right down the street at the Accademia. It’s hard to describe a day in which viewing “David” was the second best event of that day!

Before leaving we arranged for me to come back the following day to photograph. Stefano asked if I had any specific needs. All I needed was a flat rock surface to place the fossils on and that it be close to a wall of windows that allowed indirect light in. The following image is the workspace I found the next day. The biggest ammonoids I’d ever seen – they became my background! I knew this was a very special event. And I knew that it would yield very special results.

With my exhibition finally under way at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca I have been able to return to work on the “Florence Fossil” images as I refer to them. And I am happy to say that they are as special and as beautiful as I had hoped. I think there may be an exhibition possible in Florence at some point. The test prints are looking very good. I hope to post the entire project very soon. In the meantime, here is a selection.

Oh, to be in Florence once again…!

As always, you can subscribe to this blog at my homepage  https://artandfossils.wordpress.com

Thank you for the visit. More images at www.artmurphy.com