As I’m debating whether or not I want to spend 50 Euros on a one-day pass to Pitchfork music festival, I decided to compose a blog post on last weekend. It was a weekend full of much social-butterlying (I just made up that word), which is quite a refreshing change from all the sight-seeing I’ve been doing for the past month and a half. It’s like I’m actually living here now, not just visiting. About time! Since I am, in fact, living here.
Although I call myself an Art Historian, I have yet to fully accept the kind of contemporary art that makes me feel slightly scared and very uncomfortable. The kind of art that is hideously ugly and disturbing, or the kind of art that simply makes no sense whatsoever. I try to imagine what the artists must have been thinking while piecing together such creations, and my mind cannot fathom it.
I can understand art that follows or comments upon the chronological flow of art history, and I can accept art that is pleasant to look at, or entertaining to interact with, but I have a really hard time accepting something that consists of cardboard hanging from a string, or something that is so ugly it makes me feel kinda queasy. Part of the problem is nobody wants to repeat what has already happened in the past, so boundaries are constantly being challenged. Boundaries of medium, subject matter, morals, etc. Doesn’t it get exhausting to constantly challenge the status-quo?! It also places the artists’ own personal, subjective vision or motivation, which much of the time is incomprehensible or hidden to the spectator, above everything else, especially beauty. The concept of beauty has been almost eradicated in contemporary art. I believe these tendencies are somewhere along the lines of Post-Modernism. And it is all very confusing, almost frustratingly so.
My Grandmother was in Paris a few weekends ago, and I was able to show her around Paris. We went to the Louvre, but we were all extremely exhausted from all the traveling and early mornings, so we didn’t spend a ton of time there.
We did see the brand new Islamic arts collection though! And it was really beautiful! Some things were a little boring (some of the pottery and shards of tile), but there were also some gorgeous and unique treasures like intricately carved jewelry boxes, ancient suits of armor, ornate and jeweled teapots (or “genie” lamps… I don’t know the proper names of things), and mosaics that used the most gorgeous shades of blue. There were also many rugs, architectural fragments, and carved wood doors. I think the most fascinating thing about Islamic art is all the surface decoration and patterning.
When my Mom was in Paris, we took an hour to check out the Gustave Moreau museum. Most people, even people who have some knowledge of art history, aren’t super familiar with this artist, but I gotta say, he’s extremely interesting!
He’s considered a Symbolist painter, so many of his tableaux are a fantastical melange of biblical, mythological, medieval, and otherwise imagined references. Some of his work is more textured, expressive, and colorful, like the later work of Delacroix, while his more famous works are expertly drawn, highly ornate, and almost scintillate with detail. His mix of symbolism with extreme attention to detail bring to mind, at least in my own head, apocalyptic yet ancient, and cult-like, ritualistic themes. I picture his images taking place in an imaginary time that is futuristic, yet extremely ancient at the same time, and it’s pretty easy to become lost in them.
The day we visited Versailles, the gardens were absolutely beautiful. It was sunny, but the sky was covered in beautiful, full, textured clouds, and there was a fresh chill in the air. The gardens seem to extend out to infinity, and I loved imagining Marie Antoinette-type ladies wandering about in these gardens, or floating in a canoe on the canals.
I made the mistake of wearing uncomfortable shoes, yet again. I don’t know how many times I have to self-induce suffering upon myself before I actually take my own advice, and that advice is: WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES THAT FIT PROPERLY!! Evidently I never knew what walking really was in Long Beach, because I’ve never had so many shoe/foot-related problems in my life!
One of the activities I accomplished with my mother was the enormous Palace/Chateau of Versailles. Think Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis the sometheenth. (Sorry guys, not so good with historical details!)
The interiors are ridiculously detailed and gaudy, it actually got rather sickening towards the end of the visit. But I’d say it’s still worth a visit.
Aside from the main chateau, you can also explore the gardens, two smaller palaces, and the Queen’s hamlet. We saw everything there was to see, and I have to say the smaller palaces and hamlet were much more enjoyable, simply because they were far less busy.