Monday, April 8, 2013

You Call THAT Art?

                                  Georges Pompidou Center

"... The whole of Paris is a vast
university of art, literature, music."
~ James Thurber

"Holy crap." I was standing at the top of the spiral staircase that leads from our flat to the ground floor seven stories below.

"It's easier going down than up," Mike encouraged me.

"It's steep going up or down, the steps are too narrow, and 110 steps (I miscounted yesterday.) are still 110 steps."

"Off we go."  That husband of mine is always so positive.

Once we were on solid ground and through the two locked doors that lead to Rue St. Paul, Mike asked where we were going.

"Are you interested in seeing the Bastille?" We hadn't seen it before, and our flat is pretty close to it, so I thought we'd enjoy seeing it.

"Why not?" he said, and we headed north on Rue St. Antoine.

                                                         1034 Colors

Why not indeed.  Unfortunately, what we didn't know is that there is almost nothing left to the Bastille. If you remember, the revolutionaries stormed the prison in 1789, freeing the prisoners and killing the head of the prison. The government ordered the destruction of the building, and the people took pieces of it all over France to show the power of the revolution.  All that's left now is a statue commemorating the overthrow and a very little bit of the building's foundation.

Had I checked all this out before we walked to the Bastille, we probably wouldn't have gone.  The walk was nice, though, and we ended up walking east to the area where Victor Hugo lived before heading back west to the Marais.

                                     Painting by Joan Miro

Mike was just walking and walking, and I was, by the time we hit the Hotel de Ville (City Hall), getting tired and cold (Does this seem to be a recurrent theme?).

"Do you want to go to the Pompidou Center?" I asked Mike.

"What's that?" he asked me for the umpteenth time (another recurrent theme).

"I don't know."  I knew it was a museum, but I'd told him that umpteen times, and, well, you get my drift, I'm sure.

We stumbled on the museum accidentally on purpose (The map had it a few blocks north of where it actually is.) and bought tickets that gave us access to all the exhibits.  One was a special exhibit of designer Eileen Gray (of Ireland), and the other two were Modern Art (pre-1960) and Contemporary Art (1960-today).

                               Painting by Jackson Pollock

We spent a good three hours at the museum, and I enjoyed going through it.  Unlike Musee D'Orsay, the Pompidou was not so full of people what you couldn't see the paintings.  Actually, in some cases, it might have helped to NOT see the art.  You're probably asking yourself why I'm saying that...and even if you're not, I'm going to tell you.

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of contemporary or modern art. In most cases, I can't see how the heck someone thinks some of this crap is art.  Who decides that a huge piece of plywood holding 1034 rectangles of color is art?  (See the second photo above.)  One of the sculptures we saw today was a stack of old, used tires.  Why is the guy who piled those on top of each other an artist while Melvin who stacks the used tires at Firestone is just the guy who stacks the old tires?

Look at the paintings by Miro and Pollock (both above). Miro's work, to me, looks like blobs of black ink next to a red hash mark.  Heck.  I get that just by spilling paint.  What in the name of heaven was Pollock on when he painted that thing?  Of course, at least it has a little bit of  form to it.  Most of the Pollock I've seen consists of canvases filled with paint splatters, drips and smears.

And then there is Pablo Picasso...

                              Painting by Pablo Picasso

Mike and I saw an exhibit of Picasso's early work once when we were in NYC for something.  The paintings are actually realistic, and if you Google him, you can check them out. At some point, though, he must have had some of the same thing Pollock did.  The painting above is called Woman Reclining At Night. Missing from the photo I took are the three other stars and the moon which, I guess, indicate that it's night.  My little Riley could draw better than that, and he'd have to hold a brush in his mouth.

"Do you think," Mike asked me as we walked back to the flat, "that these guys paint this stuff and then laugh because someone calls it art and someone else actually buys it?"

No doubt about it.


  1. Pretty philistinistic, Chris. By the way, should that comma be in that last sentence (without a verb)?

    1. I hope that you are being funny with that comment and not insulting (which is how I took it). i meant the post to be sarcastic. I don't know what comma you're referring to in that last sentence. Do you mean the period? If so, then it should be there.