St. Germaine, Musee du Louvre and a rant about beauty

I am in Paris. And since I’ve come to France, I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty. Often when I’m lost and come around a corner and find something like this.

The other day, I was hunting for the library and found this church, instead. It is St. Germaine and while they were remodeling and it wasn’t exactly peaceful, it was still incredibly stunning.

What struck me were the colours. They wouldn’t photograph, but you can see images below and here.

The church was both beautiful, and heart wrenching. Even though a lot of it was behind barriers and there was noisy construction going on, you could still sit and absorb its beauty. There were candles you could light for a loved one (or maybe for other reasons, I’m not Catholic, so I’m not exactly sure) for a Euro. I debated because Victor was, well, pretty anti-Christian. But in the end, I chose a blue one to light, and then ended up laughing because I had so much trouble getting it to light. He’s so stubborn. I told him, “This is for me, not you.” and if finally lit.

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Every pillar was brightly coloured and intricately designed and I kept thinking about beauty. People had put so much effort into this one church for no other reason than honouring their god with beauty. We have lost beauty. Everyone walks round in black, looking all cool, and exactly the same. I have felt self-conscious in my purple coat here, although, that same day, I stood next to a young, beautiful woman on the Metro wearing a kelly green wool coat. We must’ve looked quite a pair.

Anyway, I thought about the coat and how if other people won’t grab beauty, why should it stop me? Or the woman in green? Our houses and buildings in the US and Canada all look the same, but I think part of the simplicity of architecture comes  from trying to stay alive in the wild new world when things were first built, and then we got out of the habit of beauty (I’m referring to the West Coast, as that’s where I live). There was infrastructure here when they built things, even hundreds of years ago, which must’ve helped. It’s sad, really, this lack of architectural beauty in Canada (with some exceptions, of course, but it’s not a rule, it’s not the way we build now), and it’s not just the “new world” because all our interiors look exactly the same. Even churches are boring these days. Big box stores have given us a blueprint for what looks good, but it’s rarely beautiful. I will say, in the US and Canada, we we do have a certain amount of rugged natural landscape that balances things in similar ways to beautiful buildings. It made me realize though, that it’s worth taking care of your appearance, and your surroundings, and wearing colour.

Today, I went to Musee du Louvre and while I did go see the Mona Lisa (and I’m glad I did because she’s alive in a way that you can’t see in a print), I mostly spent my time with the Greek statues and King Louis’ furnishings. I marveled at the handmade furniture, boxes, paintings…people, crafstmen and women spent their whole lives creating beauty. Now, if you actually spend the time it would take to make something like that, people would balk at paying you what’s it’s worth (in time and artistry). My friend, is an amazing painter and people have said to me, “He got XXX for a painting! that’s crazy!” And yet, it took him six months or a year to paint it. Anyone in a job, would’ve gotten three times that much for working forty hours a week filing papers.

I don’t really know what the “right” way is to visit a museum. I go in, I look at the things I like, I pass by the things that don’t interest me. I don’t waste my time oohing and ahhing over Italian paintings, because I am more of a Romantic period girl. I like furniture, and don’t look at the Egyptian stuff because I don’t think it ever should’ve been moved. And I don’t take selfies, or even that many photos of artwork. The only time I take a photo is when I want to look up the artist later.

At the Louvre, I discovered I like Eugene Delacroix’s work but I like the odd ones, the ones probably dismissed. I liked Young Orphan Girl and The Apartment of the Compte (look them up, it’s worth your time). Neither are anything like his other epic paintings.

And when I saw this, I had to photograph it because it hit me hard. This woman is beautiful, every lumpy curve of her. Through grief, I lost a lot of weight, and with French bread, I’m gaining some back. This morning I thought to myself, “Oh, I better be careful so I don’t get that bread belly thing.” And then I saw this print and thought, “What was I thinking? I want to be soft, and sweet, and lovely…I want to be human, not a stick insect.” Art will remind you.

This article was written by Joelle