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Muses d'Orsay

Muses d’Orsay is my response to a commission from the Musée d’Orsay asking me to photograph the museum’s employees in their place of work. With the Musée d’Orsay housing the national collection of 19th century works, I suggested that each employee take his or her own photograph with a rubber bulb snap like in the old days. Each person had ten takes, in other words a roll of film. It was up to each to choose when and how they would be photographed. So they became artists for the time it took them to photograph themselves and thus assume responsibility for their own image.

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Danièle Letellier reception officer and guard with the museum since 1998. Favorite works of art: the paintings of Odilon Redon. « I am a reception officer and guard. What used to be called a “museum guard” with such contempt. You know, the guys who were always sitting down, knew nothing about the art they were guarding and just guarded. Our job has really grown, and we now play an important part in receiving visitors. People ask me all sorts of questions. Making myself available, smiling, knowing how to inform them and guiding them along are real pleasures. From my own museum-going experience, I am convinced that people leave museums with two impressions: the art work they see, of course, but also the way they have been greeted. To be perfectly frank, when I first came to the Musée d’Orsay it was just a job, nothing more. And then something happened, and I discovered painting. Since then I have the feeling I know how to look at a painting. Every painting has a soul. » Liliane Badra reception officer and guard with the museum since 1998. Favorite work of art: Labourage Nivernais by Rosa Bonheur : « In my mind Orsay is France’s most beautiful museum. It doesn’t make you feel closed in; your eye is free to roam. Every morning I make a detour past Rosa Bonheur’s painting I love it so much. I have the feeling I can smell the grass and soil and that the cows are really looking at me. Some day I am going to have it copied and hung at home. I like the contact with the public and that I’m not locked up in an office. Knowing how to inform visitors is always a pleasure. Sometimes they ask me where they can find Courbet or Van Gogh, and I answer, “Unfortunately he is dead; on the other hand we still have a few of his paintings.” »