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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Diversity of the Collections at the Louvre

The Louvre never fails to confound me, for the illogical layout, the confounding number of people and the endless difficulty we have finding the exit. To be honest I'm starting to detest the pyramid "sortie" sign. However, sometimes your complaints and quibblings are put firmly in their place by the sheer diversity and quality of their holdings and in that spirit I thought I would share some photos of the collection from "Africa, Asia, Oceania and The Americas" in the Pavillon des Sessions (opened in 2000) which I stumbled upon after going into the Louvre through the Lions Gate (Porte des Lions) last week.
It's impossible to look at this kind of piece (below) without realizing the debt modern art owns to African and Oceanic artists. This is so reminiscent of so many including Picasso and Modigliani.
 The coloring on the sculpture below is spectacular and as you can see it is displayed and lit beautifully. 

I was fascinated to read that this striking woven piece is Hawaiian, it certainly looks Oceanic.
There is also an interesting though small collection of  pieces from the Americas. Including this small gold work which reminded me of the Lords of Sipan exhibit I saw years ago.
Each seems to be a masterwork of its own genre.
This life sized piece is in astonishing condition, it quite literally stopped me in my tracks!
There is so much variety here, both in areas of the world, the textures, dates, mediums and representations. I love the solidity of this Aztec work which like so many of these has an extraordinary  power to it.
There's also a small collection of Inuit art including this memorable Canadian sculpture which is rather ominous.
If this kind of art speaks to you you'll want to head over to the Musée du Quai Branly's website which details 100 masterworks. The text is in French but the photos are fabulous and you can explore the collection in your own time. If you're in Paris  the Quai Branly is a fascinating museum, both for it's collection and it's Jean Nouvel designed building, including a spectacular green wall and a cafe I rathe like. The displays are not without controversy amongst anthropologists but this is where the bulk of the Louvre's African, Asian, Oceanic and  American collections are now displayed, along with ethnographic works from the Musée de l'Homme, once directed by Claude Levi-Strauss.

Tip: The Lions Gate, at the south western edge of the Louvre closest to L'Orangerie, is often very quiet and you probably won't have to queue because everyone else is heading in through the pyramid. However, in the typically illogical fashion of the Louvre the Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas collection is self contained so you see it and then will have to go upstairs which puts you into the Spanish and Italian art but you'll be walking against the chronology of the displays. Alternatively you could see what every you want and then exit out through the Lions Gate, seeing this collection at the end of your visit.