There’s just no escaping Open Salon. Two weeks ago my honey and I flew to Paris to celebrate (?) my 60th Birthday, which just happened to coincide with our meeting 30 years ago.(!) At some point – walking hand and hand down the Rue St. Antoine, or lost in the bowels of the new shopping mall under the Louvre, or dipping that last Freedom Fry in mayonnaise, you want that one? No, you can have it. -I’d known her exactly half of my life. How romantic!
And that’s Freedom as in no computers, no email. No Open Salon. She asked, “You bringing a computer?” “No.” I was tempted to check my email when we got to the hotel, have a teeny peek at old OS…but it was 5 euros an hour. I was going cold turkey.
Next day, Tuesday, we’re at the Orsay because it’s the only museum open that day of the week. We’re also there because it’s one of my very favorite places to do one of my very favorite things, which is to look at paintings. Lots of them. Judy doesn’t quite have my tolerance for paintings. Actually, I don’t know that anyone does. So I scout out the best pictures while she has a latte – OK, café au lait, it being Paris. The first room I stumble into there’s Ingres’s “The Source,” which I was tempted to use for one of my blog posts, except it seemed a little…naked. But what the hell, here it is:
I turn around, and there is my OS avatar, staring me in the face. The luminous muse next to the artist, by Gustave Moreau. Who I now can see with full eyeball pixilation is looking a trifle worried as his lovely muse points – there, you’ve gotta do that one today, and he’s thinking, just like I am right now –No, not another. Not today when I’m all jet lagged. I’ve got a headache. But when da muse come a callin’ you better answer or there’ll be big trouble.
Standing there I got all guilty – haven’t been commenting, haven’t posted….lunch in the grand restaurant upstairs fixed that. And no, I’m not telling what we ate, just that the high ceiling was lousy with chandeliers and murals. What can I say, I wish everyone could go to Paris for their 60th.
A confession. I cropped this fine picture to fit in the avatar box. I don’t know about the art police – I’m afraid they’re as bad as the library police, or the sex police, which is to say, serious meanies. At the very least cutting off parts of a great work of art to fit it in your silly blog has got to be some kind of sacrilege. Here’s the whole thing:
Hesiod and the Muse
THE LIST: painters who are underrated, great but semi-obscure, great fun but not great, or whom I just plain like. Same caveat as with my list of 10 hidden classical gems – if you hate museums and pictures, you can leave now. But if you enjoy first stringers like Monet, Rembrandt, Titian, Picasso, Matisse, but are getting a little bored…if you go to museums and see the names you know then find yourself leaving early because you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of wading through all those unknown painters, here’s ten you might want to check out. That’s if you remember (i.e., are younger than me.)
NOTE: These pics can’t begin to do justice to the paintings. Which is why you have to go see them.
- Odilon Redon He’s a symbolist and my favorite painter of he 20thcentury. Full blown dreams, right on canvass, in colors that make you wonder if someone hasn’t slipped some shrooms in that latte. A rare bird – there are a couple hidden in the 19th century galleries of the MET in NY, some at the Orsay, and, I just discovered, a trove of them at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (where you can get those shrooms legally, though I can’t attest to their quality as I was chicken to try them.) The Dining Room in the Country
- Pierre Bonnard. Domestic –bliss? More like domestic mystery. Colors similarly luscious as Redon’s. The warmth that radiates from his canvasses – whether it’s his wife in the bath, or just sitting in a room, or the view out the backdoor to a garden –makes me wish the rest of 20th century art weren’t so darned cold.
3. Antonio Allegri da Correggio Greatest painter of the Italian Baroque, hands down.
The Apparition (What happens if you don’t follow your muse)
10. Oh yeah. Moreau. The reason these can seem a little tacky at first is that he’s the root stock of a certain genre of weird fantastic adolescent comic book art. But his stuff is much better.He has his own unique vision. If you go to his museum in Paris you’ll find the rarest of things: an artist’s home that tells the real story of his art. His living quarters are humble, cramped. As opposed to his studio – two floors with a spiral staircase, an amount of light and space that’s glorious for Paris. He put first things first. Most of the paintings there are unfinished. You can pull out the drawers lining the wall and see the proof that every day of his working life he was obeying that pointing muse. There are 17,000 drawings. That’s 2 or 3 a day for 40 years.
Gustave understood that it’s not about getting them to hang in some museum, not about fame and fortune, but about practicing, every day. Otherwise that luminous muse is going to get real pissed.