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I am immediately confronted by things much larger and older than I will ever be able to fully comprehend.
I imagine that having a variety of perspectives might help.
Gustave Courbet, “Woman with a Parrot”
This painting is from H. O. Havemeyer’s extensive collection of Courbet’s work. The Havemeyers were initially opposed to acquiring nudes, but, lucky for the rest of us, they were so taken by Courbet’s paintings that they changed course and ended up amassing an enormous collection of his private work, including many nudes.
(I learned this from the little placard.)
Alexandre Cabanel, “The Birth of Venus”
Cabanel’s nude differs from Courbet’s nudes for its more idyllic depiction of the female form. Mostly, I just like the cherubs, because look at them.
Edgar Degas, “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer”
As a former fourteen-year-old girl shrivelling under the male gaze, I find myself saddened and hoping it all worked out for her.
Truly unhinged ceramics.
Trying to imagine travelling back in time to a stuffy sixteenth-century household and being struck dead by this facehugger-esque nightmare plate in a china cabinet.
Van Gogh’s sunflowers are for everyone.
A guard permits me to finish the last of my breakfast scone outside the “Van Gogh’s Cypresses” exhibit.
Luckily, I’ve evolved above such restrictions.
Vincent van Gogh, “Newly Mowed Lawn with Weeping Tree”
Everyone is very moved by van Gogh’s cypress trees.
(Except for this person, whose feelings are also valid.)
Leaving the exhibit in an emotionally tender state, I am greeted by a gigantic vase featuring an inexplicable cartoon villain.
Nicholas Sébastien Adam, “Autumn”
And also this.
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, “Ugolino and His Sons”
Ugolino is imprisoned with his kin and forced to decide between death by starvation and cannabilism. His agony is apparent in, well, everything, but especially in his interlaced toes.
I finally leave to brave the elements outside and discover that my mortal body remains unchanged by the experience.