Casa’s Blog

A Life Abroad

Milo Venus was a beautiful lass. She had the world in the palm of her hand. But she lost both her arms in a wrestling match…

As awesome as I may appear to be I have never really been much of a worldly artistic kind of guy.  My knowledge of art basically boils down to pop culture references, painting the table in year 7 art instead of the paper, anything I don’t understand being “art” and that I should look intently at art with on finger on my lip and nod my head when I am at a museum.  It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy seeing some art…it is more that I have just not been exposed to a lot of it or have I ever really learnt enough about art to have a basic understanding.  Well I think you can classify my day today as diving in to the deep end of the art world without a life jacket, floaties or kickboard.  A scary analogy when my poor swimming skills are considered.  Today I got up early and spent the whole day (9am til 4pm) roving around the halls of the biggest and most famous Art Museum in the world – The Louvre.

Although I knew little about art going in, I had done my research about the Museum itself.  I knew I needed to get there early.  I knew I needed to dedicate a hole day to exploring it. I also knew, thanks to Justin, that on weekends it is free entry for anyone with a EU passport under 26 *Simon waves* and that the multimedia guides are good and that the tours are a good way to see a variety of what the museum has to offer.

The first tour I did was the 45 minute one that covers the three main masterpieces of the collection – The Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo (or Aphroditie of Milos as she should be called supposedly) and the other statue with Nike that I probably should’ve been more impressed by seeing.  Starting this tour so early, as the first thing I did, was a stroke of genius.  Most people were still finding their way in or around the museum as I made it to the Venus De Milo.  In fact, I thought I may have stumbled across a replica as when I got there the whole space was empty.  Sure enough though, there she was in all her glory and as I listened to her story I got a great chance to get an upclose look at her from all angles.  The thing that struck me straight away was the craftsmanship that must have gone in to making this statute.  The multimedia guide is great because it draws your eye to all the different aspects that the untrained (like me) may not have noticed but are the basic components of what makes it such a special statue.

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As I moved on to the second statue, a crowd had started to gather around the statue and my peaceful contemplation was broken.  It was a good time to move on.  The second statue I can’t remember the name of but was made to represent a naval victory and has Nike (goddess of victory and not the shoe) sitting a top the front of a stone boat.  Now there were elements of this piece that interested me but I think it was just too damaged for me to understand its true glory.  Yes Venus is armless, but the statue is basically in one piece otherwise.  Here the base is partially reconstructed and besides having the main body and wings of nike there the feet, arms and head are all missing and maybe I am just not imaginative enough to take it all in.

Regardless I was off to see Ms Lisa herself and although there was a crowd there, obviously people had run there as soon as the doors have opened like the cheap shoes section at a Boxing Day Sale, it was still nothing compared to what it would be like later on in the day or how it had been described to me.  Most people I now who have seen the Mona Lisa comment about how relatively small it is.  Well upon hearing this constantly I think I went in with a slightly pessimisstic attitude and was surprised that it was actually a bit largely than I had pictured it being.  The eyes did follow you around the room though (I did the lame tourist thing and tested it out 😉 ) and the smile was intriguing.  I can’t see why it is the most famous painting over other pieces in the Louvre collection…but it was clearly a masterpiece.  It was also a good thing that I can now say I have seen the Mona Lisa…everyone wishes they can say that and if it happens to be brought up at parties I can be one of those travel wankers who acts like a true expert because I stood there and stared at it for 5 minutes.  I did take some photographic proof that I saw this wonders as well.  It was surprising to me that you could take photos, albeit without a flash, as not many museums allow that these days.

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My tour had finished and after a well timed text from ShanChops booking in a trip to the cinemas to see Harry Potter on Tuesday week (yes, I will be well and truly back in the country by then) that allowed me to gloat about my current location I started up on another of the set Louvre tours.  This time it was a tour of the Italian masterpieces which was really interesting. Best of all, as an artistic layman, they spent a fair bit not only discussing the pieces but also breaking them down in to what makes them so good, discussing the artists and even spending a fair bit explaining the wonders of the Louvre building itself (after all it was a palace before being turned in to a museum so it is a marvellous building with some great interiors).  Personally I found a few pieces that I liked more than others and strangely the “other” Da Vinci’s in the collection I think I was more drawn to than the Mona Lisa.  At the end of the Italian section though there was a small amount of Spanish art (small in comparison to the Italian section but not in number) and although the Italian works were great I can say that those ones – particularly a stylised Crucifixion and The Clubbed Foot, where my favourite things I saw today.

After a quick lunch break where I was clearly ripped off, but at least my stomach had silenced its complaints of agony, I decided to do the French tour which was the longest of the lot (unsurprising as we are in France after all).  This part of the collection really expansive and the sculptures were probably where I spent the most time but overall the style of art seemed to be less appealing to me than the Italian or Spanish pieces.  So in the end…Spain wins a close battle with Italy for my Art love with France not a distant, but a certain, third.  After 7 hours in an art museum I feel I have the ability to make such wild generalisations 😛

Anyway so that was my day and before I am off to maybe catch up with some more Americans I met along the way I just have to say…GO LIONS! Geelong may have been injured beyond belief but we are 4 points closer to finals baby!

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July 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments