Friday, 10 April 2009

Michelangelo and photographs

It is a wonderful experience to look around le musée du Louvre. You will know about the Mona Lisa, and you may have heard of Géricault’s le Radeau de la Méduse. This painting is fairly famous but it was also used as a cover for one of the albums by the Pogues. The original heads were changed to those of the musicians. What you don’t know by looking at the album cover is how big the canvas is. It is huge. Visit the Louvre, stand well back and have a look at the work that has gone into this painting.

My memories of the Louvre include the famous sights. Some of the not so famous sights have not been forgotten, but an abiding memory is how often photographs were taken. Do you have any furniture that has been left in sunlight? It may be a coffee table or an armchair but you may know that light bleaches the colour out of many objects. The same is true of oil paints on canvas, so there are areas in the museum where photographs are not allowed. If you have canvases then you have signs that say no flash photography. The Louvre also employs staff to say the same thing. Fair enough.

So this photograph of Michelangelo's dying slave is fine. but so many people were taking photos near oil paint. I would not be surprised if the originals were in a vault and we were looking at copies. We don't deserve the originals.

Happy snapping

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