Art History from Paris- An American In Paris

A Note from your host, Sac Poubelle:
Today, my greasy chipmunks, we will have a visit to the Louvre, and I will have to lose my outRAGEous French accent, and along with it, my magnificent animal charm, non? I will let the pig dog Author Guy guide you through our treasures d’art. Commencé imbiceel d’livre.

The Author Guy:
As you know, the Louvre was mostly mythical, until 2005 when it was built as a set for the movie, The DaVinci Code, and Audrey Tatou was installed as the queen of France, overseeing all the French speaking world with her cheeky cuteness, or mignon de joue.

Okay, that’s not exactly and completely true. The Louvre as originally built in the 12th century as a fortress, and over the years was used as a royal palace and residence, and even after the French Revolution (1789), when the revolutionary government established the Louvre as a museum to keep French treasures (yes, including Audrey Tatou) and the French Academy of Art was established there. Until the mid 1800s, the Louvre was surrounded by a slum of lean-tos, and shacks, and even the center courtyard was a slum where poor trades people and scumbags lived. The great impressionist Renoir actually grew up in the slum in the courtyard of the Louvre and recalled teasing the palace guards as a child. Unfortunately, none of the walls or horses that he and his pals tagged have been preserved, otherwise they’d be priceless.

In the 1980s, the a two large glass pyramids were designed by I.M. Pei, and built by the Hebrews in the courtyard (as depicted in the movie The Ten Commandments, with Charlton Heston.)

The giant glass pyramid as an entrance probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but on a hot summer day, it catches sunlight coming into the courtyard and bounces it around, leaving only one small portal for all the heat and people to get out of, so it gets hot. Really hot. This is called the greenhouse effect and is exactly the same way that global warming (and intestinal gas) works, which is why you don’t find any polar bears in the Louvre (or in your butt.)

The first thing you need to know before you go to the Louvre is that it’s huge. I mean really huge. You know how Douglas Adams describes the size of the Universe in the Hitchhiker’s Guide? The Louvre is that big, except inside of a building. A couple of weeks ago the New York Times published an article about how people go to the Louvre but they don’t look at the art. That’s because they only take one day, and you can’t look at all that stuff in one day if you’re going to stop and actually  look at stuff. I’m not sure you could even jog the Louvre in one day unless you were an ultra-marathoner. So, what I’m saying is, if you like art, allow more than one day to look at the Louvre, and if you don’t like art, don’t go, because that’s sort of their specialty and you will hate it. (Unless you are friends with Audrey Tatou and you guys just want to hang out and have some coffee and croissants.)

Here a visitor to the Louvre illustrates to his girlfriend how excited he is about the Louvre. (Note her “You Wish” smile.)

I spent most of the day at the Louvre yesterday, and I didn’t see even see a quarter of the stuff, so I’ll share some highlights with you from the Ecole de Nord (Schools of the North, meaning Dutch, Flemish, and Belgian painters, for the most part) and a few from the French painters collection, which is ginormous. (The photos are from some weird angles and some are a tad fuzzy. You’re not allowed to use flash, and with some of the paintings, the varnish on the surface is so shiny that you have to shoot them at an obtuse  angle or you can’t see the image at all.)

I didn’t Photoshop this. It really is John the Baptist telling you that you can’t use flash.


It’s not really like I need to come up with a caption for this. But let’s call it, FINE TUNING, just for giggles. I swear I thought the Monty Python guys made this one up, but no. This is a portrait of Gabrielle d’Estres, (left, presumably) who was the mistress of this guy:

This is Henry IV, and the thing I love, is how he looks a little embarrassed about killing the dragon he’s standing on. Like he did it by accident. You don’t get that with a lot of royal portraits. I’m guessing from this and the painting of his mistress, that Hank had a pretty fun court.

“Oh, was that your dragon? Sorry, my bad.”

Some royals were not confident enough to show a sense of humor. Like this guy: King Louis VIII

“No, of course I am not gay, despite my outrageously gay outfit.

You can tell because this angel behind me has her breast out, which I love!”

And this painting of the  Cardinal of Granevile by

the Dutch painter Anthonis Vor van DASHORT

“I can’t believe I’m shorter than my dog.”
(The real title is,” The Cardinal de Granville with a really big Dog” which kind of says the same thing, really. Like the Cardinal went, “You’ve got to paint the dog smaller. No? Well, then tell people it’s a really big dog.” )

Now that we’re into the Dutch painters. Let’s look at some Rubens, from who we get the phrase, Rubinesce, typically referring to women who are, let us say, booty-enhanced, or shall we say, gadonkidly gifted, or as the French say, avoir la junque dans la trunque.

This one’s called, “Am I buggin’ you? How ’bout now.”

This is an interesting Rubens as well:

Clearly, not only does Rubens give props to curvalicious ladies of his day, in this one he tells us that not only will old, bald guys get to heaven, they are going to get some action as well.

An old, bald angel makes his move…

Something I’ve noticed about Rubens is that he also had the buffest Jesuses, although there weren’t any in the Louvre, they have some awesome buff Rubens’ Jesuses in Italy and Chicago.

This is Rubens’, The Resurrection of Christ, which shows an awesomely buff Jesus, especially considering he was dead just minutes ago. I think it’s obvious from this painting why Jesus is more popular than Wolverine, despite not putting out a new book in 2000 years.

(Oh, don’t roll up on me all santimonious about Jesus paintings. They weren’t really painting Jesus, they were painting the skinny guy down the street who could take the day off to model because he sold weed for a living and his hours were flexible, so just back off. I’m surprised some paintings didn’t end up with a hacky sac and a vegan girl with dreads in them.)

Think I’m kidding. Check out this anonymous painting from the Dutch School entitled, Virgin, Child and Angels. Notice anything?

No? Look again. IT’S ALL THE SAME FACE!  The artist could obviously only afford one model, so he  just had him pose as every character. You can rest assured that the angels, Mary, and Baby Jesus HisOwnSelf were pot dealers. Baby Jesus, in fact, appears to have twisted up a toothpick spliff to get him through the painting.

And what about this Jesus in the Last Supper by Dutch painter Joos van Cleve (Yes, his real name was Joos.)

Remember the teacher on Beavis and Butthead? Mossy beard in hemp pants guy? Here he is. Yes children, witness,,,,,,, the Beavis Jesus!

Here’s another one by Joos:

I call this one, “Bitch, I Don’t Think So.”

Why? Check out the detail:

“Bitch, I Don’t think So”

Well, this post is getting a little long, so I’ll report tomorrow with more painting and some sculpture. Let me leave you with this one by French scultor, Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, entitled:

“Hey, has anyone seen my tarantula?”



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