Monday, February 4, 2019

Values on parade: eavesdropping at the Louvre


Back in the day, on our second trip to Paris, we moseyed through the gallery the Louvre docents had given to the Italian Renaissance. Most visitors were not moseying. They were trotting, hustling even, on their way to the room with only one access and no exit that houses La Jaconde, La Giaconda, aka Mona Lisa. We were enjoying the art and lingering, but not everyone felt the same way. One American (Madras shorts, loafers without socks) held forth in the middle of the room, proclaiming that no one really liked Picasso, that his fame was all a scam put forward by a cabal of critics. (As it happened, Walter adored Picasso, so he made some extraordinary faces to keep from laughing out loud.) However, there were also two guys who were thrilled by what they were seeing. They stood for some time before some master's painting of the martyrdom of St. Anthony, namely, the muscular yet lissome saint being riddled with arrows. Then one said to the other, with some exaltation and exhilaration and reverence, "You can't call yourself a man if you don't make Art."

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