A true confession from a former, rabid art historian

Hi Janis, I’m disappointed we didn’t get a chance to meet up again before our trips to the US! I hope you are well again. I am happy to say I am almost well. The 2nd round of antibiotics and nebulizer did the trick.

I’ve been wanting to share a couple of things from my Paris trip that only you will understand! You know how we are always saying that “things aren’t like they used to be” in the art world in Italy. You can’t just pop in at the Medici Chapel and expect to find it open and empty like it would have been in the olden days! We are ancient!

And you know how we are always saying that we don’t like going to special exhibitions nowadays because you have to fight the crowds to get close to a painting. It is too much work and it ruins the experience.

So, in that vein, I have a couple of things:

First, I can spend an entire vacation without going into an art museum at all nowadays! I think that not only do I dislike the two items above, but I am just tired of art museums in general and my interests have evolved. I have to face the fact that I’m no longer a devoted student of art.

So, on one of our first days in Paris, staying well out of the center of the city and relying on the Metro, but the Metro was on strike…we decided to walk to the Pompidou Center. I haven’t been there in 30 years. My son has never been there. We had a lovely walk through a fascinating section of Paris and, when we arrived at the Pompidou, we joined a small group of people waiting to enter. We got inside, I looked around, and every fiber in my being said “leave!” There is all of Paris to experience and I don’t feel like getting lost in this big, modern building looking at art I really couldn’t care less about. My son was only too happy to leave. He was drug into so many art museums as a child that his right arm is longer than his left, or so we joke.

We were in Paris for 10 days and the one Metro line that you could count on working was the #1, which goes East to West, stopping at the Louvre. We rode that line almost every day and many a time we got off at the Louvre, the center of the city.

We walked by the pyramid almost daily, and even though the museum was always open, we decided not to go in and save our complete Louvre experience for the 17th, when we had Leonardo tickets.

So the days go by and we are planning to see the Louvre on the 17th. We depart Paris on the 19th.

We arrive at the Louvre about 11 a.m. on the 17th, even though our tickets were for 1 pm. I notice immediately that the usual line to enter the pyramid is not there and there is a pretty good sized group of people in the area, but it is helter scelter. I find a Louvre official and show him my Leonardo ticket on my phone. He scoffs. I’m confused. Then it becomes clear, on the 17th of January (my birthday and Michelle Obama’s too, btw!) the Louvre employees decided to join the strike. No one is getting into the museum!

I am in shock. This was one scenario I didn’t see coming. We planned our entire trip around this exhibition.

And yet, another part of me was just fine with this outcome. We gathered ourselves up and headed to the Left Bank where I treated us to a delicious birthday lunch at Les Deux Magots! It was perfect.

I hasten to add that during the 10 days I was in Paris I did attend 2 special art exhibitions: Toulouse Lautrec at the Grand Palais and Degas at the Opera at the Musee d’ Orsay. Both exhibitions were very crowded (in January for god’s sake!) and not enjoyable from that standpoint. I had been dreading the Leonardo show because I assumed it would be even more crowded.

So, what did I learn? I learned that I have made my last plan around a special art exhibition. Those days are officially over for me. Yes, I will always look at art. But, no more blockbusters unless I get a personal invitation to visit privately when the museum is closed to the public. And, while that used to happen in my life, that ain’t gonna happen again in this lifetime!

Only a fellow (sister?) art historian can understand the greatness of this tale!!

Ciao for now, sister, Lauretta

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