preserving elan vital

On occasion, when no one is looking, I will grab my keys and dash off to the museum for a full day of unimpeded contentment. It has always been this way you see; the museum is a haven of peace and gentility. My mind clears and my shoulders relax as I cross that great stone threshold; I can breathe, I can think. My brow un-furrows and my pace adjusts itself to reflect my ease.

blogging avec les jeune filles Boit

I will get there early, before my living room is cluttered up with slow moving strangers and I will own the shop.- I will have breakfast under the Chihuly glass sculpture and as I sip my coffee I will cast a piquant glance at the Art of the Americas wing -I play it cool, but he knows he has me right where he wants me and it wont be long before I succumb to his charms.

Bebe flits up and down that staircase

I put very little planning into these trips. But I will instinctively know when it is time to step out of daily life and make a connection with the world. I am always seeking balance, even subconsciously, its the only way I stay upright. But the true self can be left to languish in the relentless drone of routine.

the columns were originally spaced evenly but when Sargent was commissioned to do his murals he had the columns coupled so the view was unobstructed. That is cache.
Hello again,General
Hello again,General


‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life’ (Picasso)


  There is something reaffirming about the presence of artistic achievement. It taps into a vital part of us that we don’t often use on a day to day basis, but which helps to define what it is that makes us human. Art is the actualization of the human spark. And when we can see it there, in front of us we are in effect refueling our creative furnace.

This kid gets it (the offspring in their younger years)
This kid gets it (the offspring in their younger years)

One can stand among ruins of preceding civilizations and acquire some understanding of how people once lived, but it is the art that shows us who they actually were. If we go to Giverny we can see the view of Monets garden, but when we look at his paintings we see the view into the man, a more direct and intimate revelation.

sketch it out first
sketch it out first

I am faithful to the Art of the Americas wing, but otherwise I wander freely, exploring at my leisure, stopping here and there to take a break and catch up on emails or simply enjoy the view. I am in no rush, on no schedule. I like to live with the paintings, not just stare at them. I can see them better that way. My favorite view of any painting is up close, with my little nose inches away so I can see the individual brushstrokes and imagine the artist putting them there.


  Eventually I will head home, replenished and content, but if you turn your back I may be gone again

‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things,

but their inward significance’ (Aristotle)

a dress made entirely of faience beads, more of a sheath really, that graced the wispy form of an Egyptian girl. As tall as my daughter perhaps, but a tiny little thing, as delicate as the dress she was buried in


The Laird of Glenbogle?
On one visit I was examining the Oak Hill Dining room when a man next to me asked if I knew the purpose of the small trunk under the window. I said it was where they kept their dog toys and he found that an acceptable answer. I was tempted to leave it at that but my conscience got the better of me and I told him that I was kidding. He wasn’t amused however and I was left to giggle to myself.


8 thoughts on “preserving elan vital

  1. Bravo Bebe!!! I also plan my museum visits with great care so as to have the most intimate interaction with the works I most like. Those quiet moments in communion with the artist do have a way of sending my spirit soaring. For me at our Art Institute, I wait until my mind is in just the right place before I go visit those Two Sisters on the Terrace by Renoir; I have often told people that standing 8 feet away at the 5 o’clock position is the most beautiful place in Chicago.


  2. What a lovely post. The one advantage of living in London is that all museums are free. So it is very accessible and I love popping into one if I am early for a lunch date or appointment. The National Gallery is a favorite of mine where I can plop myself on the big sofas and just sit in front of some Turners. Otherwise I get museum fatigue syndrome if I make a proper go of it while traveling.

    The first thing I would buy if I won the lottery is art before anything else.


    1. I think that is the key-unstructured time to absorb at your own pace. I hate to say it, but I hardly ever go to the museums of cities I visit. It would just be a frustrating whir. Unless I go in to see one single exhibit.


  3. I used to always go to the museum when I felt a bid sad or down, it reminds me of school and I always felt safe there and you can’t help but feel elevated when in that sort of space.


  4. Just a bit jealous. We have a rather small museum although it is trying. Unfortunately, I get to go to the larger ones with throngs of folks. Last time was The High Museum in Atlanta to see The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Hard to enjoy through all the heads, bodies, and bad breath. Yes, I am definitely jealous.


    1. I always find myself paying more attention to the people than the painting in those situations-all those strangers in a close little group breathing in one anothers air. There is quite a variety of boundaries in a mixed group, don’t you think?
      Pick any random weekday morning during the school year and I will meet you on the front steps and we can saunter and sip all day.


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