Wednesday, June 4, 2008


A day in Paris couldn't be called complete without a visit to the Louvre. Even if it was a cursory one at best. After finishing up the day's film work and grabbing a bit of dinner we were left with an hour before having jump on the dirty Metro and catch the Euro Star home.

We filled that hour with art. How appropriate. Right?

Professor O told us we only had 30 minutes before having to meet him at 7 so obviously, me, being a first-time Louvre patron, was taken by the savvy Three Ostrateers to the highlights. I have always loved the Winged Victory. She's so striking, so commanding. I wished I had a few hours to sit and sketch her, but the second hand was ticking loudly in our ears and the noise ushered us down vast hallways packed with paintings until we wound up in front of Mona. A part of me didn't want to see her. I just don't understand the hype and I felt like me going to pay homage was just perpetuating the nonsensical obsession, but I went, I saw her and just as everyone said, she was smaller and less grand than expected.

On the way in Kpup posed a question about the sum value of the Louvre's collection. I don't even know if that number is fathomable. But as we ventured out I kept thinking about why we value art. What says that these bits of fabric and pigment are worth the millions we attach to them? Why do we price it so high?

When we got back to the top, Prof. O realized he had made a mistake and we actually had another 30 minutes to explore inside. I drug Pancakes with me back to the bowels of the museum, while the other three waited outside and watched the window washing machine. I must say it was intriguing.

I didn't want to see the big names or worry about hitting the highlights. I just wanted to see. So I lead the way, not knowing which obscure corner I'd end up in, but we eventually found ourselves looking at artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia and I was drawn in by the intricate cuneiform inscriptions and the crude forms. While studying a pot with little clay studs I noticed the maker's fingerprints left in the little round decorations and I was struck with the thought that a person made this. A person like me, real, living, breathing, loving, with stories and hardships. A person. And I realized then that that is why we value art. People have value and so the things they make have value. We care about people, we care about culture and societies past and present. We care about history and anthropology. We care about creation. We care about art.

Housing art in a building that used to house royalty lifts art to an esteemed level on its own, but then to have countless patrons pouring in the doors to stare at these tiny objects made thousands of years ago gives them such incredible value. It makes my heart glad just to think about it.

Art matters because people matter.

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