France, land of art and poetry, is making a statement by decorating the country’s public rail system with impressionist art. The state-owned SNCF railroad consists of some pretty posh trains, and many have been elevated to fine art status with the addition of replicas of famous artworks by impressionist painters. Photographer Christophe Recoura documented the amazing interior of the so-named Impressionist Train in a series of stunning images... all aboard! Next stop? Claude Monet's former home in Normandy.
The art train project is a collaboration with 3M. In order to bring impressionism to public transportation, workers applied a graphic film not unlike wallpaper to nearly every interior surface of each train car on the J line. Walls, ceilings, and even railings are covered in representations of impressionist paintings from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, as well as photographs of architectural landmarks and pieces from film classics. Riding the rails has never been such a cultural experience.
The impressionist train features artworks categorized in three themes: gardens and water, Paris and industrialization, and local landscapes. When the train opened for service in 2013, then-French Tourism and Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius touted impressionist art as an “extraordinary asset” for the region, adding: “If the painters used to go to Normandy that’s because it was already well served by the railways then.”
Trains may be known for offering more picturesque views than many other modes of transportation, but the impressionist trains of France elevate that promise to a whole new level—sometimes within a frame.
Images via Christophe Recoura