We are re-posting this article to show what reading can do to a child like Arizza who, although she now loves science and math more – she is taking industrial engineering after landing 7th place among 60,000 examinees for UP’s 50-slot Oblation scholar program – Arizza’s love for reading and writing remains. I am so proud to say that she not only writes better than me – a former Inquirer reporter – Arizza also edits some of my works for our advocacy the Kris Peace Library and even press releases and PR communications plan for my Dean & Kings Legal Public Relations firm (www.deanandkings.com).
Indeed, what the love for reading had done to Arizza, my daughter Ashia and our entire family is among the reasons we never get tired of spreading almost daily here in FB and in media the value of reading and why we need to give and share books and build libraries for poor kids with no access to reading materials (please read www.krislibrary.com).
So if you are you are fond of reading, of Dan Brown’s book; and the arts, please read on. More importantly, please share this article to friends; like and post it on your FB walls; make it required reading for your kids; and more importantly share and donate your books to us to help us spread the magic and wonders of reading!
By Arizza Ann S. Nocum
First Posted 23:46:00 05/20/2006
Filed Under: Books, Cinema, Libraries & Museums, Arts (general)
Published on page H1 of the May 21, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
THANKS TO DAN BROWN'S bestseller, the Louvre Museum has attracted much public interest akin to that usually showered on the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
However, it is also unfortunate that because of the infamous "The Da Vinci Code," the Louvre has been seen as a dark, sinister place, considering it is where the character of Jacques Sauniere is murdered in the novel.
But my visit to the Louvre last October gave me a different impression of the awesome majesty of this breathtaking place filled with wonderful paintings and statues and relics of civilizations.
The enormity of the Louvre was very striking. I had never imagined that it would stretch for miles. The museum itself was a work of art, sporting the classic Renaissance architecture. Its chambers consisted of ornate carvings. Through its massive pathways, its décor never ceased to amaze. The only thing that was entirely different from the rest was the modern glass pyramid located outside.
This pyramid actually has a controversial history. It was constructed with 666 panes of glass, said to be the number of Satan. Thus, the pyramid was said to be a symbol of bad luck. Its prominence seemingly represents the meeting of the past and the present.
As I entered the Louvre, a different tang of air greeted me. It was like that of any museum; it smelled of chemical apparently used to counteract the corrosive carbon dioxide visitors gave off.
Apparently, the ancient paintings were photo-shy. We were not allowed to take pictures of any of them because of the danger of their overexposure to light.
There was a surge of unexpected thoughts while I walked past the different sculptures and paintings. It was as if I was surfing through time, through the first civilizations and the periods which seemed quite near, through different styles of art that had changed little by little through time. Still, I stopped to marvel at one of the most valuable masterpieces in the Louvre, “Venus de Milo.”
I have seen a great deal of sculptures and I can say that “Venus de Milo” is not the most beautiful. But its portrayal of a goddess seen with no hands was quite unique in that it provided a strong picture of femininity.
Scores of statues were found here and there. The endless hallway stretched and yet, the most noticeable were the Italian sculptures namely Michaelangelo’s “The Dying Slave” and “Psyche and Cupid.” “The Dying Slave” gave me the feeling of wanting to break free. Its image was tattooed on my mind. “Psyche and Cupid” was a very unique portrayal of love from long ago.
I never thought there were two pyramids in the Louvre but then, here I was standing still at the sight of an inexplicably inverse pyramid. The transparent glass created a complex impression upon me. I was just amazed how they were able to construct it.
Now, I carried on, leaving behind gasps of amazement as I saw the works of art that I had seen in many documentaries, films and books. The works of such artists as Da Vinci, Picasso, Botticcelli, Van Gogh, Michelangelo and so much more left me breathless. Standing there, between two separate flights of stairs, was the “Winged Victory.” Even when I first heard the name, I was already filled with wonder.
The “Winged Victory” was actually the mast figure of a ship. It looked very ancient considering the fact that it was headless. Enduring centuries, it was certainly a symbol of heroism and joy.
Countless pieces of art were mentioned in the “Da Vinci Code,” but the one that had the most shocking description and explanation was the “Madonna of the Rocks.”
The “Madonna of the Rocks” is actually an original version for Da Vinci supposedly created it to decorate an abbey. But the nuns didn’t accept it because of a shocking action displayed there. The Virgin Mary was shown there as the nuns instructed, but her left hand was seemed grasping for a human head and Angel Uriel held out her hand as if a knife sliced through the invisible head.
Da Vinci made another painting that was less mysterious, “Virgin of the Rocks.”
In “The Da Vinci Code,” “Madonna of the Rocks” was the painting of great mystery where cryptologist Sophie Neveu finds a key to solve the great mystery. Though creepy, “Madonna of the Rocks” is still a marvel of art.
I was still in my time machine as I entered the Salle des Etats but then, I felt as though time stopped because there it was, before my eyes, the words “La Joconde.”
“La Joconde” is actually “Mona Lisa” in French. The French were obviously proud of their native tongue and so, there it was encrypted.
The very moment I saw her, I couldn’t help but stare. She posed an enigmatic smile that I couldn’t ever forget. Her knowingly mysterious eyes followed me as I examined her with great anticipation. She spied me as if keeping a secret. The picture was small but well-guarded. Guards were posted simply just to hinder visitors from taking pictures or touching the “Mona Lisa.” Actually, she needed the extra attention.
France cried hard when she was stolen thrice. Thankfully, “Mona Lisa” is back in the museum for all to see.
The young, the old, those who seek answers and faithful Dan Brown followers all stop a while to marvel at the wonder and mystery of the most valuable object in the Louvre, the “Mona Lisa.”
I was awed when I saw a whole room full of royal crown diamonds. The ornate walls could simply be described as breathtaking. There was no blank part of any wall left. Every corner was either studded with gold, filled with a painting or sculpture. Even though they cost a huge amount, they would never measure up to the “Mona Lisa.”
Far away from home, I couldn’t believe I’d see Asian artifacts and works of art in the Louvre. Still, I was there, admiring an effigy of Asian royalty.
For me, these artifacts only seemed to exist in the encyclopedia and yet now I could admire the detail and style of art being communicated to me by the very beautiful effigy. These wonders had gone such a long way and endured a devastating past and yet, there I was, amazed by them.
There were antiquities of diverse origins from the Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and even Iran. It was startled when I saw the sarcophagus of a married couple as it was way before.
The “Statue of Ain Ghazal” was also present taking me back through time in Asia. I saw even the very ancient “Winged Bull” filled with legends I’ve heard of before.
Being half-Muslim, I was astonished when I saw Islamic artifacts. I saw the famous “Basin,” known as the “Baptistery of Saint Louis” and the “Pyxis of al- Mughira.” I felt proud to see a piece of my religion in the Louvre.
Then I witnessed one of the first and most powerful civilizations to ever walk this earth, the Egyptians. I was awed by the hieroglyphics, images of gods, stone tablets, scrolls and even a coffin with a mummy inside.
Part of the Louvre was Medieval. Every brick, every column fitted perfectly to summon the Medieval atmosphere. I didn’t expect to see a Medieval moat in the Louvre but I was standing there, imagining knights and myself a damsel in distress.
My experience of the Louvre was a very rewarding one. I am glad that I was able to see it before Hollywood and Dan Brown’s book reduced its artistic and structural significance to a dark and macabre suspense story involving convoluted cover-ups and conspiracy theories.
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please read article at http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/lifestyle/lifestyle/view/20060520-2335/At_the_Louvre_and_loving_every_minute_of_it