In French the word Galleria also means shopping centre (mall). I think the play between gallery and galleria is appropriate because a visit to the Louvre is like a visit to a large, crowded shopping mall. Many of the people going there are tourists intent on seeing the big name art works. The worst are the tour groups who seem to just want a photo of themselves beside the art work. The Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo as celebrities.
My first day was a shock. It was exceptionally crowded, uncomfortably so. I went early but by midday I had had enough. I was feeling claustrophobic, just as I do in crowded shopping centres. The second day was miraculously different. No where near as many people.
The highlight, and the surprise, on the first day was the medieval section. Very impressive. The antithesis to the aesthetics of the Greco-Roman tradition. The Gothic in all its darkness and melancholy. Death, suffering, ugly faces and bodies, and faith that God will somehow lift the corruption of the world. I didn’t take photos so I’ll use reproductions. The first is Malines’s The Infant Jesus as the Saviour of the World and the second is Conrad Meit’s Adam et Eve.
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