One of my main dreams about going back to Paris was to spend more time at the Louvre. I had been a couple of times before and had done the mad dash just to see the highlights. This time I wanted to take my time and breath it all in, I wanted to enjoy and appreciate the art not just see it, and most of all I wanted to discover some of the hidden gems that I had missed before.
Turns out this dream was an unachievable nightmare.
With the amount of people in the Louvre there is no way I could even start to appreciate the art. I was jostled, pushed, barked at and that wasn’t even in front of anything famous. So here is what a visit that was meant to be the highlight of my trip actually looked like:
The only good thing about the visit was that it made me think about why we all go and take pictures of the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the statue of Cupid and Psyche. Most of the people crowding in front of these beauties will have never studied art, hell they may have never been to a gallery before. They are in the Louvre because it is their first time in Paris and its just what you do.
They have two hours off before they have to get back on the bus and so they visit the art landmarks as set out by the thousands of visitors before them. But why oh why do they ignore all the other art on the walls in favour of the famous ones?
My theory is that is grounds the participant in history just for a moment. There is too much art for the casual viewer to understand or enjoy, but they want for a moment for time to freeze and to be linked to this ancient painty history. So they go to the Mona Lisa and take a picture; and in that moment they are linked in a way that is enough to satisfy them.
So I guess in that they Louvre satisfies a need. It is perfect for the visitor with two hours to spare who just wants to see some famous stuff. But woe betide anyone who actually wants to enjoy any of the other art on the walls because you will have the history seekers to contend with.
Not a fun time.