Apr 12, 2013

A Continentalist in Paris: Louvre - Sculptures / Mexican Art / New Frontier II

Another first-Sunday-of-the-month trip to my favorite Paris museum.

After five hours at Palais de la Decouverte we were pretty spent - but the Louvre is our ritual, so we couldn't not go. And I really wanted to see New Frontier II.


We entered through the Sully wing, first through the antiquities (where it was extremely crowded) and then on to the next best thing: neoclassical sculptures. We had a chance to look at Psyche revived by Cupid's kiss quite closely, though Lee didn't care much about the sculpture or my abridged version of their story. I didn't take notes nor can I find it on the Louvre website...so it will have to remain a mystery. Could it be Jacob wrestling the angel?

According to the Wikipedia article on the Cupid and Psyche sculpture, the handle at the side was put in so that it could be turned, so as to be examined from multiple angles...which seems rather onerous given the size of the sculpture.

Upstairs, we went through the corridors with 16th through 18th century Italian paintings. I gave Lee G-rated distortions of the back stories, e.g. Guido Reni's David with the head of Goliath ("Goliath was a mean giant; David was a brave shepherd boy who killed him and later became king, a long, long time ago") and The rape of Helen, also by Reni ("Helen was a beautiful queen who was married to a king, but then she decided she loved another prince, called Paris, better - and then there was a long war"). She indulged my chatter but didn't care much.

I don't really see the point of taking photos of paintings seeing that much-higher quality versions are out on the internet, but I did get some shots of a little courtyard within the Denon wing, and the Place du Caroussel looked amazing in the spring sunlight.

Mexican Art at the Louvre

The Mexican exhibit, which is on until June 3 this year, is in the Spanish art section. I went in not knowing much about Spanish art beyond Goya and El Greco if you count him as Spanish (his paintings seriously upset me as a young child) - and even less about Mexican art. I was expecting Kahlo and Riviera; I find her paintings and their context interesting, but his work always remind me of Socialist rather than Social Realism. To my surprise, I didn't see paintings by either of them - instead, a lot of religiously-themed works heavy on gore, kitsch, and death. Lee thought it was "scary," and though I wouldn't exactly buy posters of the work it was definitely interesting to see.

On the Spanish art front, I learned that The Clubfoot is by a Spanish, not Italian painter (though he lived and worked in Italy).

New Frontier II

This exhibit was small, but it was very popular. I've studied the Frontier Thesis (historian Frederick Jackson Turner's argument that the notion of the Frontier shaped American Democracy) in detail, and depite my abandonment of the humanities and social sciences I still have a casual interest in this and other American Studies topics.

We spent most of our visit looking at Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait's The life of a hunter: A tight fix. I had lured Lee to the far ends of the Denon wing with vague promises of Davy Crockett since she likes the song which she knows from The Fantastic Mr Fox), and she is convinced that this is him.

I then wanted to haul Lee to see the Mona Lisa, but it would have been overkill - so we went outside. I had no idea you could peek into the Richelieu wing from outside (in the passages leading to Rue Saint-Honore), and I can't wait to see that part of the museum.

Oh, and #toooldtobreastfeed?

I keed, I keed. I'm definitely pro-nursing, and baby Jesus is likely even under the WHO's recommonded guideline age (and even if he isn't, it's a very safe nutritious choice out in the desert). He just looks huge.

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