I've had some sort of lingering writer's block for, like, a year now, but art, you guys. It's the one thing I've never run out of words for. Maybe because there's so much to talk about and so many ways to discuss it and wonder about it. It's just exciting to me. I had to give a presentation on some sort of French artist in AP French last week and I stood up in front of my class and just started speaking French about Matisse, like, without worrying about my conjugations or anything at all. I was just speaking French and of course it happened while I got to talk about art.
So. This shall be the first installment of my newest ongoing series here at le blog: Art I Love And Why You Should Love It Too. I want to talk about what makes it beautiful and what people think about it, what people thought about it, where it came from, why it looks the way it does, because art feels the realest to me.
So I suppose it ought to all start from the beginning.
Meet the Nike at Samothrace. The Winged Victory. The Hellenistic Beauty.
This. This is one of my favorite pieces of art ever. It’s hard for me to even put it into words because I loved it before I ever understood art history at all, before I understood the context (Hellenistic Greece) or where her head went (nowhere special, just somewhere in time) or why she was flowing (Hellenistic Greece, again) or anything about her really except that she was simply the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I loved her. I love her. I love this piece without words, which makes her special probably for that reason alone.
I love The Winged Victory like I love holding hands or sleeping in or reading chick lit. It's simple to me. It doesn't need explaining. She doesn't need serious art history lessons to explain why she's wonderful. She's not Matisse or Picasso or Pollack or Rothko (all of whom we will discuss) who take understanding to appreciate. No one's requiring that you consider her or understand her or appreciate her. You just love her. I just love her.
So she's in the Louvre, right? In Paris. So the Nazis start to bomb Paris, right? The Beauty is actually in a million little pieces (which you can kind of see below) and if the Louvre got rocked, it was Sayonara to Nike.
And to make matters worse, she sits at the top of a flight of stairs:
So these workers at the Louvre lifted her off her pedestal and carried her to safety in some sort of hide-out for the rest of the war.
Art saves us, you guys. Art holds our hands and lets us sleep in and reads us chick lit, guys. Art is what brings us home and reminds us that it's okay to be human and we have to save it back. I mean, in my heart, the Nike at Samothrace has a soul and she was just stuck up there just as afraid of dying as the rest of us are, and she needed saving.
To be honest, The Hellenistic Beauty is a work I've never gotten all too technical with. It almost ruins it for me if I start to think of her as a production piece from an art historical period to explain why she is the way she is. She simply is. She's just the Hellenistic Beauty. The Winged Victory. The Nike at Samothrace, and she still leaves me wordless, and there's a part of me that just wants to remain that way, at least where she's concerned.
I realize this is hardly a scholarly and technical way to start off my deep discussions of art and art history, but this is the reason I ended up in AP Art History with Gina last year and the reason I'll study art history no matter where I end up next year and for years and years after that. Because I saw her, and I felt something, and that's what art is supposed to do.
"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls." -Pablo Picasso