I had to go back to the Louvre. I had to give myself more time. The minutes in front of The Mona Lisa left me with an unsatisfied hunger. I had seen and not experienced the overseen, bullet proof, Mona Lisa. I walked back to moment and I played it again.
The crowds were no less intimidating. Yet, I found something… else… in the experience. Yes, I did. Among thousands of people all rushing, pushing, and ticking off ART selfies to prove their level of cultural depth. I found… well, first I noticed this couple. They were in the same room as the Mona Lisa Pandemonium but they were far removed from the panic, the frenzy. Taking strength from their connected, centered, energy. I let myself walk away from the Mona Lisa.
Not too far away I sat down. I took my sketch book out. I began to draw. Then the magic happened.
Suddenly, I was alone. It was only me and the eternal curves of The Winged Victory of Samothrace, another desperately famous work of art, yet not held in the distancing grip of bulletproof glass and wave of smart phone camera clicks.
As soon as I focused my eyes on her, The Victory of Samothrace, opened up to me. I saw how marvelous she really is! Her wings are powerful! They look entirely proportionate to the strident female body. She is stone. Yet the artist’s mastery over stone is complete, pure virtuosity. A fluttering cascade of transformations occurs as you allow your eyes to rest on her heavily reconstructed form. She is at once static and full of a vitality that one associates with LIFE, living, good health. She is a harbinger of good news, Victory!
She is on the brink of activity, in the midst of being a viable being, larger than life, monumentally scaled, yes… but entirely of this world. Proof of the higher orders in which all creatures meld into hybrid forms of superlative wonder. The wings, feathers articulated with scientific detail, might be those of an actual bird… which one, I don’t know… but I sketch their basic shape and take in the realization of a very complex idea, in this most enduring modality of marble.
The total visual transformation of stone into wet drapery covering the ripe body of a perfectly formed female, invites awe. Her arms are missing, yet I can’t image what they might have added to what looks like a perfect composition. (However, there exist scholarly drawing and replicas which depict the complete Victory.) Perched the prowl of a triumphant ship, looks about to fly away with the elegance of a swan, the ease of a heron. Water, “splashing up,” on the statue would have made the illusion complete. Imagine that! Imagine the effect that this sculpture would have had in its time upon people not desensitized to the static marvel of marble. Ancient people, steeped in ritual, ready and willing to contemplate the profound wonder offered by spiritual symbolism. People for whom this work must have held significance deeper than its mere representational (of the impossible) value, because it was stone yet looked like a living being, ready to reward those that have fought, and triumphed.
The crowds swarming past, determined to get their image of five-centuries-of-fame, and run to the next GREAT thing… on a packed itinerary… Yet, they do not disturb me. I draw in my red book, on a page after a Cafe sketch, and before another Cafe doodle, sandwiched between my habitual sketches, I now have my own “Winged Victory,” mine is no where near as perfect as the reconstructed masterpiece, yet she is a personal reminder to fly above the petty problems and annoyances which threaten to confuse one’s mind and push a person toward the abyss of popular culture’s all encompassing oblivion.
Frau Kolb finds herself sketching Winged Victory, for NOT a long time, just forever.