Museum Goers

by Brittany in


Metropolitan Museum of Art | Paul Cezanne | Card Players 5

Metropolitan Museum of Art | Paul Cezanne | Card Players 5

I am very self referential when it comes to art... I have visited the Met several times since moving here. Did you know it's actually free? They list $25 on a sign but that's just a suggested donation... I know, they think a lot of themselves. I heard, though, that you should legally never feel like you have to pay anything there. It is a vast, vast place so I've decided to take it very slowly and never feel like I have to see a certain amount of rooms or anything. So I just wander and listen to music (Regina Spektor, last time: Rowboats was particularly on point). Some rooms just bore me to tears (sculptures, I'm referring to you) so I speed through them till I get to my current favorites.

Lately the very glimpse of a Cezanne triggers wave after wave of throat-catching nostalgia. He somehow managed to capture countless scenes that I also have impressed on my mind... like, exactly. And not just the views of Mont Sainte Victoire (ugh.... such a miserable hike... remember how Jamie and Josh deserted me with the Quebecois boys who didn't speak a word of English and we somehow ended up on the total other side of the mountain?? I'm pretty sure that was yet another instance of me breaking our hitch hiking rule... due to the bus being on the total other side and the sun having set)... but also the Gulf of Marseille, the solitary angular houses surrounded by scraggly olive trees and yellow soil, and even his still lifes... they sum up the frozen-in-time-broken-only-by-the-lazy-buzzing-of-an-overgrown-fly feel of an endlessly warm afternoon that is so unique to the South of France.

Ok so do you remember the movie (500) Days of Summer? A lot of people have forgotten it/give it a bad rap now but I still completely adore it. There's this beautiful scene where she first brings Tom to her apartment and he actually grasps the fact that showing someone where you live is showing a bit of your soul... it's very intimate. Anyways, she has a black bowler hat on a shelf with a granny smith apple balanced on top.... a nod to the painting by Rene Magritte. I believe she also has a print of a Cezanne. 

Walking around art museums always makes me fantasize about being rich enough to simply have a small Van Gogh on my wall... I am very aware that that will never happen. That's why most countries have fascinatingly beautiful vast buildings filled with art that their citizens can wander in at will. It's an amazing thing actually.

Some people sketch. I always feel like they are the truest form of museum goer. 

Some people wander aimlessly, ignoring some (often the most famous paintings or all sculptures, in my case, I just can't get into them. Maybe in a few years.) and staring randomly for minute after minute at a row of pipes in the background of some painting (can you tell this is my type of museum goer?).

Some people feel the need to pontificate to their bored fellow museum goers about the mind behind that particular shade of beige on the corner of that particular rock in that particular foreground. This type gets nasty glares from me. I hate them. And their thoughts.

Some people treat it like their afternoon exercise break (and maybe it is). I actually appreciate this type immensely because when you think about it, a brisk walk around the Met is sheer genius. So much better then a boring run through Central Park or a treadmill or ... worst of all... a mall. Plus they don't get in the way of my staring at pipes.  

Some people zip around photographing every single painting. Now this type I find hilarious... because I did that once... when I first visited the National Gallery in London when I was twelve. Only to realize when I got home these photos that I'd blown my entire disposable camera on were soul-less. They lacked everything that make real paintings alive and dance and failed to jog my memory because I'd neglected to take a picture of the artists' names, too. But some of this type of goer have really perfected the art of photographing every painting. Perhaps it's because of nearly limitless memory cards or iPhone storage. Whatever the reason, these dedicated people take painstaking photos alternating between the information plaque and the painting. I hope no one ever tells them that many museums now have online catalogues with that exact information, because they are one of my favorite things to see at museums. 

Frederic Bazille | The Artist's Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris | 1867 | VMFA

Frederic Bazille | The Artist's Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris | 1867 | VMFA

I am also (and still) the type to wander around with a camera... but now instead of mindless cataloguing, I prefer to take photos of the mindless cataloguers (photo credit above: Jesse) or the sketchers. And here and there when I see a really lovely painting I photograph it. So I can a) show you and b) so I can reproduce the painting in 3D in my very own home. Which is where I've been trying to get to with this rambling piece of writing all along. That row of pipes! I gave Jesse a beautiful meerschaum pipe for our first Christmas together and since then pipe giving has become a bit of a tradition so we have a few by now. And will only get more. So I plan on a pipe rack in our next apartment. And only you, readers of the blog, will know what it's a reference to (the Cezanne above). I love the concept of decor being a reference to--a nod to--great pieces of art that I will never afford (nor would I necessarily actually want to, cause private art collectors are kind of selfish, right? denying all of us hilarious museum goers).  Basically, paintings are the pinterest of the past... and probably should be of the present, too.

I already had a nearly entirely black room (my kitchen) in Chicago but this painting (to the right) has inspired me to re-create this entire little nook.... preferably with the stove for heat as well.