Sunday Edit: At The Museum

An Honest Museum Audio Tour

Here it is, the “Mona Lisa.” You woke up early for this. You waited in line for almost an hour. You’re now surrounded by seventy people, all trying to catch a glimpse of it. One of them just elbowed you while taking a photograph of it. It’s behind a lot of glass. It’s not very big. What I’m trying to say is: it’s O.K. to feel disappointed.

This powerful self-portrait is from Picasso’s Blue Period—so named because the paint he used was mostly blue. You spent eight dollars on this audio guide.

As the nineteenth century progressed, Impressionists such as Monet and Pissarro continued to divide public opinion—some people thought that the painters should be applying their paint to the canvas differently, while others maintained that the painters were doing the right thing with the paint.

Now we come to the antique-furniture room. Note this intricately carved chair, which was made in 1573. The first person to have sat in it is long dead. Now no one is allowed to sit in it.

As you gaze at this haunting Rodin sculpture, note the contrast between the figure’s blank stare and the tormented curl of his lips. Wait, don’t note that. Forget I said anything. Moving on.

This sculpture, you’ll notice, is a tube sticking out of an orange cardboard box. You’re wondering, Is there something I’m missing? No, there is not. This is a bad sculpture.

Look at this guy. Strolling through the museum without an audio guide—not even a map. Probably thinks he already knows everything. Well, his loss. Remember those neat tidbits about Gauguin’s personal life I told you in the last room? No way this guy knows them. Oh, God, now he’s stroking his chin and nodding thoughtfully at a Rembrandt. Christ. Let’s keep moving. We don’t need him.

This frenetic painting by Jackson Pollock is typical of his drip style, which features gestural splatters of paint across the canvas, and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this type of painting is easy, and that you could do it. It’s not, and you couldn’t.

Paul Cézanne completed this landscape in 1879, and you can touch it right now if you want to. Quick! No one’s looking.

This oil painting, like the eight preceding it, is of a table with fruit on it. There wasn’t a lot to paint back then. (Read more on The New Yorker)