Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things to see in the Louvre that are not the Mona Lisa

This image symbolizes my love-hate relationship with both the Louvre and the Mona Lisa.

There are a group of people who walk through the Louvre with set eyes. Looking for one thing alone. When they are not near it, they are desperate hunters.

When they find it, they are sheep in its presence. They are awed by the fame. The Louvre is especially good at creating fame. The Mona Lisa is only the greatest of their successes. There is also the winged statues of Babylon.  The Venus Di Milo. The self-portrait of Rembrandt. 

The fame is entirely artificial. In the mid 19th century, the Mona Lisa was valued at 90,000 francs. Other paintings in the Museum were valued at more than 600,000 francs. From December 1962 to March 1963, the Mona Lisa was lent to the United States, promoted as the most famous and expensive painting of all time. It was displayed only in New York and Washington. Great fanfare and press accompanied it. Since then, the Emperor's clothes have been largely  unchallenged.

It's a nice painting. It's a great painting. It probably attracts people to museums who would not otherwise attend them. I cannot fault it for this. I cannot even fault the Louvre for the artificial creation of the icon - but this is not the way I would choose that art would be, if I could choose. I would not choose certain paintings to be crowded upon, while others wait in wings, or in storage. There is so much else to see.

Even the other Da Vinci, which I prefer:

Is relatively unattended - and this Da Vinci, you can walk up to, and nearly touch with your nose. 

So, this should be the first of several posts relating to things I enjoyed in the Louvre, which are not the Mona Lisa.

It's been a while

Found this while looking through pictures of Narita. Me sitting in LAX. Crazy. Seems so very long ago.

Three views of Narita

I may have mentioned this before, but finding this picture brought it back to mind. My first impressions of Narita, Japan were that of strange solitude. A tangle of roads, woods, and buildings, and so few people. It did not seem overcrowded then. It still does not.

This photograph:

For me, captured our morning train ride into Tokyo. It's a different season, but the same principle. Flat fields pushing up against wooded hills. Still largely empty.

But, of course, I saw something like this:

on the flight in. Someone must live there.

Travelling through the Internet

This trip has been wonderful. That said, there's a lot to say for staying home, especially these days. To give examples, in the following posts, I will tend to display not only my own pictures, but other's pictures as well, especially displays in museums. Honestly, as great as seeing the real things are, I often prefer to study great paintings on the internet. Google Art Project (just as one example) displays ultra-high resolution famous paintings. and with these, there's no standing in line, there's no paying to get into the museum, and best of all, you can have a sandwich while you study. They won't let you carry a sledgehammer into the Louvre these days, much less a sandwich.

So, travel, through the internet. No language learning or missed trains required.

Right about time to get my act together

Posts on their way, with pictures!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Now that I have that done, I can accomplish all my other goals!

Wrote this while waiting for the train to pull out of Paris Nord:

You know those times when you are really really excited, and your brain keeps trying to convince you something could go wrong? You know - stuff like: "What if we miss the train? What if someone in Paris riots before we can leave? What if... what if customs doesn't let us into the country!? Worse yet, what if customs lets Grace in but not me (No fair!). So, we're sitting on the train. No riots yet (There was a fight and an arrest (at least one) at the subway station for the train. And apparently, you get your customs interrogation before boarding the train here... so the passports have been stamped. All the gates are down. I'm going to England! Check that one off my before I die list!

And now I am in England. Only problem: I swear I'm going to walk into some shop and nervously ask "Parlez-vous angleis?"

Really, there is more content coming. Soon. I promise.