Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back to that Saturday in Paris

From the Opera House (remember the Opera House?) we made our way through the 1st Arrondisement (by way of the only disappointing meal we had the entire trip - I was so hungry and in need of caffeine by that point I allowed my judgment to slip and took Cory down with me. Sad. And we thought we were being so clever!) to feast on some art without a camera in tow.

L'Orangerie was the first stop. Stunning. Monet had a hand in the design and layout of the galleries of the upper level (where we concentrated our limited time there). An empty vestibule is situated there simply for the purpose of providing a moment of transition between the outside world and two very large oval rooms, each full of vast and justly iconic water lillies paintings. Monet's personal testament to peace, to the subtle and variable beauty of nature, to the silent center. It is a magnificent place, worthy of great respect, not to say reverence. You should go.

Walked through the Tuilleries to get to the grandest Musee of them all: the Louvre. Of course. We'd been there that first night - just walked through the corridor and heard a really good sax player and saw the pyramid and drank in the gorgeousness of the night. This was different. This was a full-on weekend day with buckets of tourists (including us) vying for a view. Now, the Louvre is too big to handle in a day. WAY too big. So we chose a few items of particular interest and saved the rest for another visit. Probably nothing you wouldn't also choose to see on your first visit: the Nike of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, the Greek Friezes, the Mona Lisa.

SO - I will restrain myself to two things to say on the subject:

1) the Winged Victory/Nike is astounding. Truly awesome, in the sense of inspiring Awe. Powerful, amazing, alive. You can't get it from a picture. Trust me.

2) I may be the only person I know who was not disappointed by the Mona Lisa. This probably has to do with the fact that I've spent my whole life hearing people come back and talk about how small it is, and how disappointing it was, which led me to lower my expectations. Yes, the gallery was ridiculously crowded, and yes, it's behind this really think bulletproof glass and yes you have to stand several feet back. But even given all of that, I gotta say - this painting is kind of worth the hype. The photos do not do it justice, and neither do essays on sfumato. La Giaconda is quite the gal, and she's worth meeting in person.

But I will admit, I'd like to find a way to spend time with her away from the crowds...

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