medieval art history, navel gazing, horizon scanning
Saturday, August 2, 2014
You Never Know
Les Nymphées (Water Lilies) by Monet 1914-1926
Another beautiful day spent with our wonderful friends, a day in which the city gave back in all sorts of unexpected ways.So here, three utterly disconnected surprises. I won't have a picture of my own because they are strictly not allowed, but the Water Lilies by Monet at the Orangerie caught me off guard. Completely overwhelming, relentless, and self-reflective (you go to the other room and it changes your perception of the first rooms' paintings). The image above gives you a sense of the pristine, continuous space. You can start to think about the colors and shapes morphing from one enormous canvas to another. And then Mac tells us that Monet gave the paintings to the French nation as a gift when he was done with them, in response to the nation's sufferings in WWI. That stayed with me the entire time: the gesture, the scale of it and the war, how it might relate. I did start thinking of a visual "In Flanders Field" experience. The kids were intrigued, wanted to know more, but also to claim their favorite spots, their favorite surfaces of paint.
There are days like this (when Paris gives of itself in unexpected ways) in which the city almost seems disconnected from itself. While we marveled and lunched and saw the Sainte Chapelle and went to the gallery of Extinct Animals and walked and walked, there was a protest of what's happening in Israel at Place de la République. It hasn't made any of the American news that I've seen, and actually only a few hundred (1100) protesters showed up. The part that fascinates me is that the protest had been banned. Free speech is not an excuse/safeguard around here. As far as I've been able to read, it was small but with clashes with police. And it was right as I was thinking about all of this that our friend saw the beach volleyball in front of the Hotel de Ville. Yes, I will repeat that: beach volleyball in front of the Hotel de Ville. Lest you find the government devoid of fun. There's always something cool going on in front of that place (city hall) - ice skating in the winter, and now I know: beach volleyball in the summer.
And then this. As we were leaving our table at Chartier (it hasn't changed a bit in the twenty years since I started going: my friend ordered spaghetti and was told that only children eat spaghetti and that she'd have to choose something else. !!! She had the roasted chicken), I saw Oliver's drawing on the paper table cover. "The mighty dragon and his horde." But look at the dragon and look at the horde. (And mmmm, is that some sauce from his steak au poivre?) Oliver's drawings are so much fun - especially of late in the details (in this one, I really love the flies). Dear little dragon - I hope that the knight doesn't despoil your treasure. The knight doesn't look too impressed or enthusiastic (although he'd be a fool to pass up the sunglasses). The business of the horde made me realize that we'd been eating for a couple of hours - that rhythms of adult discussion and kid drawings were re-emerging. That there would continue to be surprises.