A piece of history...

Author: Jax Cassidy // Category: , ,
Claude Monet's Femme à l'ombrelle tournée vers la gauche

I grew up with a love for art, especially the Impressionistic, Pre-Raphaelites, and Neoclassical. Such rich stories hidden within each stroke of the brush. I was so in love with paintings by Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Waterhouse, Dante Gabriel Rossetti...I never formally took an art class until later in my life and found I had the ability to produce drawings and paintings by mimicking others. I've won state and national art awards since I was eight years old and still I found myself aways lacking. Always aspiring to be a grand artiste but never quite hitting the mark. Sure, I've done a series of successful art shows and created my own abstract/contemporary art which embodies the strength and youthfulness of women and empowerment...but my hidden desire was to be like the great Monet's of my time.

Years ago while living in Paris I stood in line for two hours for the Louvre. Needless to say it was all in vain as there had been some sort of technical issues and they shut the museum down for the day. Bloody hell! I wasn't going to live in Paris and not have the opportunity to see what the Louvre was all about. I got in line again soon after for about an hour and a half and when I finally made it in I was so overwhelmed by the people and chaos I felt literally sick. You see, I'm a bit claustrophobic. Like a trooper, I trudged through room after room of paintings and sculptures. My senses were overloaded and I can honestly say I did not have an enjoyable museum experience.

One of the main attractions had been the Mona Lisa. I was so enthralled by the fact that it was in the museum that I raced to see it, only to be barricaded by the electric chains and alarm sensors attached to the painting which was tucked in a glass box. Apparently the Mona Lisa had been stolen before and they didn't want to take any chances...at whose expense? The expense of those traveling halfway across the world to get a glimpse of the famed Mona Lisa, only to be disappointed by the size of the painting and the weird electrical contraptions that surrounded it.

Alas, I left the crowd to wander aimlessly through the museum. I must have walked a long while before the blur and haze of paintings became a series of George Seurat's pointillism paintings. My heart stopped. I had replicated his works once in high school art class and in my haste to go home I had not properly protected the piece and the rain washed out months of my hard labor :( Oh, I never lived that down! Back to my story, I was speechless by the art before me and wanted to soak in as much of the artworks in this section. I turned and felt suddenly faint. Towering before me was the most gorgeous Monet painting I had ever seen. It literally took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. This enormous impressionistic painting spoke to me and I felt transported in. The pale blues, greens, yellows sucked me right into a bygone era and I did not know what possessed me. I had to touch it, I had to feel the closeness from the master of paintings...and before I knew it I had caressed a piece of history. I had done the most wrong thing any artist could have ever done, I had tainted a masterpiece yet I could never regret the energy I felt. The seduction and powers of something so real and magical. So preserved and now a part of me. Surely I could have gotten arrested, but for some rare reason, perhaps it was with the assistance of the Mona Lisa and her crowd that saved me, but I was not arrested. I was not thrown out or banned from the museum. I, was now one with a piece of history....

4 Responses to "A piece of history..."

Eva Gale Says :
3:02 PM

I felt that way about Van Gogh. I would stare until I *got it*. Totally understanding. Then when I got home and the paints came out-*poof* gone.

When you come up we'll live at the Met and Guggenheim. This month we're taking THEM to see (and join) the Museum of Natural History, and hopefully next month the Met. But the Met takes DAYS.

jax Says :
3:32 PM

I'm going to make sure when I see you we'll live at the museums! :) I will definitely plan a trip up if I don't go to RT. I have always wanted to replicate "Starry Night". It's such an amazing piece. One of my favorites of Van Gogh...maybe I'll do it for you someday!

Margaret Says :
5:44 PM

The Louvre has so many beautiful paintings...I hope missing the Mona Lisa didn't disappoint you too much! (I came within about a hundred yards--the promotion for Da Vinci code was going on and there were so many tourists it wasn't worth it).

Glad I ran across your blog! Mine is actually focused on Pre-Raphaelite Art and the Arts and Crafts movement.

He Says :
5:43 PM


I loved your story, and it reminded me of something that happened when I was in college... (cue dream sequence)

I studied art history at the University of North Texas, and made frequent trips to area museums to conduct research and study the collections.

One afternoon, on a visit to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, I was standing before an enormous Jackson Pollack. This painting was in the style most often associated with Pollack: violent swirls of vibrant color, dripped or flung from the maestro's brush.

I bent to get a closer look—alas, not quite as close as you got in the Louvre. When my nose was about a foot from the canvas, I watched a thick glob of paint—which had probably held on for thirty years and through numerous exhibitions—break away and fall to the floor.

I straightened up and quickly looked around. I didn't want anyone to think that I'd tampered with the painting. No one saw what happened.

What to do? I considered picking it up and putting it in my pocket. After all, how soon would it be before I had another chance to own a Jackson Pollack? Or a piece of one, anyway?

Then I thought better of it. I could show it to anyone I wanted to, but couldn't prove that my glob of paint came from this particular painting.

No, I turned it in; which was in itself a disappointing experience. I imagined a grateful, teary-eyed curator shaking my hand and inviting me to view the glob's reattachment in the conservation studio.

In fact, I found the nearest security guard and explained what happened. It took him a moment to understand what I'd just handed him, and another to understand that I hadn't done anything wrong.

As I left the room, I glanced over my shoulder and saw that the guard had resumed his patrol. And for all I knew, he had my (and Jackson's) glob of paint in his pocket.

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