The Most Beautiful Works of Art in the Paris Metro

Do you like contemporary art but you are too broke to go to the Centre Pompidou?  Is it too cold to console yourself with open air artwork?  We have a solution!  In Paris, multiple metro stations delight the attentive passer-by with small artistic treasures, accessible for only the price of a metro ticket, all while staying warm.  Here are some great examples.

Palais Royal – Musee du Louvre Station Entrance

metro paris palais royal

The metro entrance in Place Colette (in front of the Comédie Française) puts in in the artistic mood.  It is made up of 800 giant Murano glass beads, and it is very different from the normal metro entrance.  It is the work of Jean-Michel Othoniel, whose talent is recognized throughout the whole world… from Miami to Seoul via New Dehli.  Titled “Kiosk of the Night Owls”, this work was installed in 2000.  The beads with warm tones (yellows and reds) represent the day, and those with cold ones (blues and violets) represent the night.

Once inside the station do not miss the work of Santos de la Torre Santiago, a Mexican shaman who has used 2 million colored beads here to draw mythological themes specific to his huichole culture (an Indian community originally from Santa Catarina in the state of Jalisco). His work is called “Thought and the Soul of Huicholes”. It is composed of 30 panels representing the sky (top), 20 for the earth (in the center) and 30 for the underground world (below). This beautiful composition was exchanged against with a Guimard pinnacle in 1997 during a partnership between the metro companies of Mexico City and Paris.

Champs-Elysees Clemenceau : Eartenware Vs. Station

A few stations away from Palais Royal, you can admire a fresco of Portuguese decorative art created by the painter and ceramist Manuel Cargaleiro. These earthenware tiles with geometric patterns and bright colors are “azulejos”, a craftsmanship that appeared in the 16th century. This work dates back to 1995, and was part of an exchange between Paris and Lisbon, Portugal.

Saint-Lazare : Contemporary Mosaic

In 2011, Quebecois photographer Geneviève Cadieux was inspired by a photo of her mother to make this imposing glass mosaic depicting a woman’s lips parted. This work, entitled “La Voix Lactée”, is accompanied by a poem by Anne Hébert, a Quebec writer, inscribed in ceramics in the corridor: “Well before the images and the colors, the source of the song imagined , With closed mouth, like a captive chimera “. It was offered in exchange for a Guimard designed metro entrance that had been installed in Montreal in 1966.

Madeleine : Russian Windows

A splendid stained-glass window from Moscow illuminates the station. It is the work of Yvan Loubennikov, who pays tribute here to Russian culture. It evokes the mystery of the egg and the chicken (who arrived first?), Besides, the monumental egg of 80 kilos which stands in the center of the work is renowned for bringing luck! You just need to touch its shell.  Ryaba the hen and his magic egg arrived in Paris in 2009 (in exchange for a Parisian subway entrance that sits in Moscow).

Right next door, you can admire the Prayer, a sculpture by the famous Constantin Brancusi. It is an identical reproduction of the original of 1907, which was offered to France in 2001 by the president of the Remo-Franco-Romanian foundation Remus Botar Botarro. He wanted to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of Brancusi.

BIibliotheque Francois Mitterand : Literary Art

You can conclude your artistic metro journey with a literary treasure hunt of sorts.  It is up to you to find the 180 medallions, all with literary selections chosen by writer-philosopher Jean-Christophe Bailly.   They are hidden all over the walls and floors of the station and the literary selections date from antiquity to modern times.

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