Saturday, 18 June 2011

...with the Hordes to the Louvre

Making art is generally a solitary affair requiring concentration, application and time in order that conceptual and material matters coalesce into a coherent expression that satisfies the maker enough to put the results to public view.
It’s a serious business….. and Petals, I’m not wanly placing back-of-hand-to-forehead and sighing… emo-like… about the high nature of the creative act but thinking rather of Fragonards’ little bravura portrait in the Louvre.  A portrait of a priest in Pierrot costume about to attend a Ball: painted wet in wet, in an hour,  it is a hugely fun, frothy, lighthearted and ultimately very serious work of art.

Jean Honore Fragonard  Louvre
It deserves to be looked at because of its brilliant handling, the surety of its drawing, its composition and its sheer good humour. 

As do the Chardin’s in the same room.  
Chardin, Louvre
Quietly sober works of meticulously recorded thought that have influenced the likes of Corot and later Picasso, that pack into their modest proportions huge concepts and sensibility.

Watteau was a beautiful revelation, too...a very melancholy aura like a strange mysticism in his works and that drapery... stunningly painted. And the portrait of "Gilles" is rivetting in a way and depth of feeling I wasn't prepared for it engages you like a real event and... it is so, so sad
Watteau, Louvre
Fortunately, these works are not on the audio guide tour 
as is poor old Vermeer’s tiny “Lace-maker”. 

You are allowed time to consider them, make decisions and learn as the mass of tourists hurriedly pace past in search of ……in search of…in search of what?
Part of researching the visit to France was to discover that the D’Orsay Museum had banned photography within its walls and I read some well written diatribes against this negation of “rights” and thought;  ”Bugger, there goes an opportunity”. Until  Mrs Wombat and I visited the Louvre.  When you observe a tourist “flash” his point and shoot a metre from Ingres’ “Odalisque” you have to wonder at his suitability to be allowed in front of any artwork. To see people do this immediately they face a painting and in 15 seconds  move on to the next piece to repeat the exercise beggars belief. Or to see some-one stand in front of an artwork, listening to the audio, whilst reading the text or looking at everything but the bloody artwork!  And yep, you're correct, the lady with the red hair is photographing herself in front of a Vermeer with her mobile.
The Louvre should be next to ban cameras.

Perhaps there should be additional questions in visa applications. 

“When did you last visit your home town gallery?”
“What works held your attention for more than 10 seconds?”
“What does NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY mean?”
“Do you understand that the intensity of repeatedflash photography will eventually fade the colours of an artwork?”
“Do you really care? “Wouldn’t you really be happier back at home shooting (killing) what’s left of your native wildlife?”
I had never really believed the stereotype of “the tourist”… I do now.

The woman maniacally running around Notre Dame “flashing” every polychromed C15th sculpture she could; all glazed eyed and furrowed brow (like the White-Rabbit…. “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date….”)  some-one dislocated in place and time. A look seen on lots of faces: we’re here because we’re here, because we’re here and I’m not sure where I am or why.  And you just have to applaud the choir, don’t you? 
Notre Dame, Paris

(It’s not really a religious service…… is it?) 
It may have been her cousins outside, securing a photo-op with a very polite and compliant maker and vendor of Parisian water-colour scenes…(they didn’t buy one)....
“Oooh thank you soooo much … we only have one day in Paris.” (He was very gracious… )
One day in Paris?  Good grief, you wouldn’t see much of Ballarat in a day!

And yes, Madam, that C16th chair was placed there just for you when you got tired of traipsing through Chennonceaux. 

And certainly Madam, steady yourself against that bit of Renaissance furniture for your photo-op ….....and of course you can pick at the flower arrangements to see if they’re real! 

No probs!

I’m not at all sure Oscar Wilde would be appreciative of or agree with the attention his tomb receives from those who think they are latter day kindred kinky spirits… or would the sculptor, Jacob Epstein (for me, a unexpectedly and surprisingly moving piece) be happy to see his work obliterated in so Vandal a manner? Loved to death by tasteless children!

wilde's tomb
 Pere Lachaise is a wonderful, fascinating place and I had to laugh when photographing  a sculpture to hear a voice loudly exclaim “Oohh… woow, is he imporrrrtaaant?” and push in front of me to take a shot before scurrying off to “capture” another historically significant person.  It was the same principle as standing on a city corner looking up. Others will follow.

It occurred to me there when reading as best I could, the testament of some woman on her tomb that facebook and twitter are our present-day cemetary’s of thoughts.

It seems too, that when travelling to the fashion capital of the world and one of Europe’s most elegant cities you must dress as badly as possible.
I thought I was leaving the Bogans behind.
People-watching is fun, but tourist watching can really makes you feel quite ill. 

Well dressed tourists at Chennonceaux

So I’ll drop-kick the malady your way with a few more choice tourist antics in the next episode.

Here we are on a canal near the Loire
 And here in Paris

funery monument
And the "important " character in question in Pere Lachaise.
Actually, Z.T.Gramme, developer of the dynamo....

Cheers petals.