When I went to Musée d’Orsay I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d done no research. Paris was, on that trip, thrown in. I had researched my accommodation, and was staying in a beautiful home atop Montmartre, where my lovely hostess would give me a map, tut-tut and adjust my camera straps before sending me zigzaging across the city in search of art and the ice-creamery.
If I’d looked into Musée d’Orsay at all myself, I would have chosen to go elsewhere. But I didn’t and it had me falling in love with art all over again. I’d forgotten, I didn’t realise. Walking through the lower level, amid sculptures, marble? of mostly beautiful women. The urge to run fingers over them was almost unbearable. And magical. I saw myself repeated. Thought of comparisons between classical art nudes and modern perceptions of size and beauty, but that was too theoretical, too clinical and academic. These were beautiful and they had my body and millions of people admiring them every year.
The size of the building is overwhelming. When I walked into a room full of van Gogh, I guess that I’d hit my sensory wall. Eugène Boch at right angle to Le docteur Paul Gachet, surrounded by people. There was a young man sitting, staring up at Eugène. Not drawing, like everyone else perched in front of one of the works. I hadn’t seen him at first because I was so busy Not Crying. It was such a relief to see that someone else was as destroyed by them as myself.
It took me a long while to absorb. Process and move on. Van Gogh is almost a cliche, and now I could feel why.