I haven’t had much time to do anything creative lately. I’ve hardly written more than a few strings of words here and there on Facebook and in client emails and messages. This is difficult for me. Now that’s it’s a quiet Sunday, I’ve decided to spend a few moments on the porch spilling thoughts from my head.
Almost two weeks ago now, I drove the kids to the big city to visit the art museum. Or, I should say, my eldest daughter drove us there. The day was a blessing; that my eldest was able to come along was a big part of the blessing. She works most days, and odd hours because she’s a cook. As I’m currently self-employed, I find it difficult to leave the house at all–almost as difficult as finding time to write.
Because this trip was spur of the moment, I didn’t know what shows were on exhibit. I didn’t care, to be honest. Art is art. I prefer certain styles of art to others, but all art is fascinating as an examination of the human soul that produced it, as well as the times the soul was born into. I could stare at paintings and woodblock prints for hours. As it turned out, there was an exhibit showing called Gods and Heroes.
This post was supposed to be part of my beauty and absurdity series. But as time has passed between then and now, much of the impact has been lost to me except in a constellation of images leftover from a satisfying day. One of the first images hit me when I entered through the double doors leading to the start of the exhibition. It was a giant painting of Louis the XIV.
Now let’s talk for a minute about beauty and absurdity, as the doors opened right onto it. Human beings are attracted to beauty and pomp. Although physical beauty does not a great leader make, those who follow leaders are apt to confuse a dashing figure for strength and intelligence. Hence, monarchs are well-known for their excessive yet entirely meaningless finery. In the days of King Louis the XIV of France, the clothing worn by monarchs appears effeminate by today’s standards: stockings and high heels; all manner of draped and brocaded fabrics topped off with very luxurious wigs of gorgeous curls.
Louis the XIV WAS a great leader. That’s the odd twist to the tale. While he may appear as a dandy in the above image, he made many wise decisions for France, increasing commerce and restoring order to the nation. He made fiscal and military reforms and went out of his way to eradicate the vestiges of the feudal system. He was also a patron to the arts. He certainly had his faults. Infidelity was one; his persecution of Protestants was perhaps a greater one. He was very thorough in his reign, but this thoroughness undoubtedly stemmed from a controlling nature, which ultimately led to the consolidation of powers into an absolute monarchy. This consolidation of powers lasted, of course, until the French Revolution, but that is another part of the story.
The entire exhibit was a piece of art history, as it highlighted paintings and sculptures from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, spanning the 17th through 19th centuries. The art show, then, began with Louis, but went through and beyond the French Revolution. I’ll have to spill my thoughts on the images from the show in more posts, perhaps.