So today we went to the Louvre. This was mostly decided because of the rain and we figured where else would we rather spend the day than indoors with millions of priceless works of art? And the Louvre was, well, the Louvre.
Some may think that it's overrated but honestly I think they just don't know what the hell they are talking about. It's an incredible collection. Breathtaking. Sure it can be exhausting. Yes you may get sick of looking at piece after piece after piece of the pieta or the annunciation or other religious works of art. Yes there are a lot of marble statues. But really, how can you not find it beautiful?
I was lucky enough to be forced into art history classes in high school, and even luckier to have two fabulously energetic and passionate teachers. Sure I may not remember who painted what, when, and why, but I did learn some of the more interesting things. I learned about some fun symbols that painters used, what certain things meant in certain paintings, and more importantly I learned to appreciate the evolution of art. You would think that artists would look at an apple and paint an apple, but art has grown just like everything else, and I feel lucky that I can see that and that I appreciate it.
Ucello's Romano Battle c/o http://www.oilpainting-frame.com
The Louvre can be overwhelming, I admit. Especially if you aren't crazy about art. But of all the places to change your mind, this is one of them! Don't go to the Louvre just to "go to the Louvre" go to it to enjoy yourself and reflect on the incredible talents human beings have been lucky enough to posses for years and years upon years. My favorite thing to do is take my time and really LOOK at each painting. The details are what I enjoy the most. Robes and blankets and lace and tuile look so real that you want to reach out and touch them. Glass vases and pitchers shine with such realistic brillance that you can hurt your head wondering how someone painted that. There are hidden treasures within every painting, you just have to find them.
I would recommend buying a guide book to the Louvre because it's nice to know the stories about specific works of art and the really special ones that you should see. These things are famous and important for a reason. They were revolutionary. They changed history. They touched people when they were painted hundreds of years ago and continue to touch people today. I also recommend a guide book because all of the information placards are in French. I can fumble my way through them, but still, it would be nice to know just a wee bit more.
My favorite is perhaps the Winged Victory, who stands at the top of a wide marble staircase underneath a skylight, illuminated by the sun. Her robe seems to be flying behind her in the wind and the incredible movement captured in this stone sculpture is impressive to say the least. There are depictions of what she would have looked like before losing her head and arms but I have to admit that I find her much more appealing now. There is something so divine in her graceful flight. Without her head or arms you truly focus on the basic part of the sculpture, her large wings which may be carved in stone but still seem so delicate, her flowing gown which flits with such grace you just want to stare at it. She's beautiful. And I love her.
The Mona Lisa is in the Louvre, which is, of course, a must. One woman who has perhaps held the peak of fame amongst the world longer than anyone else (except, perhaps, Mary). People say that she's small, but truly she only seems so in comparison to the massive paintings surrounding her. Her sly hint of a smile still sits on her lips. Her hands lay one across the other in a confident, assured manner. She now sits behind bullet proof glass and a mob of onlookers. She has lived in the Louvre for practically her entire life. She was bought by King Francois from Da Vinci and was placed there in 1516. And she still lives there. I was lucky enough, my first time in the Louvre, to go right when it was about to close. Because of this the entire museum was almost empty and only about five people stood in her presence, granting me what felt like an endless, private moment with her.
Not everyone appreciates art, but they should. It is something that human beings have practiced since prehistoric times. It is something that communicates across all languages and all times. If you could go back in time and meet Cleopatra, wouldn't you? Well the Mona Lisa and her friends are still alive and kicking, and they're just waiting for you to come and visit.