Monday, May 3, 2010

Boris and Gleb get new shoes (Paris)

In what other city can you be transported to the mystic heights of Russian art before Peter the Great after having actually seriously considered that shoe in light blue in the middle? Ah, Paris! Mamie and I had a glorious day in Paris, France - never mind the 50degree Farenheit weather. This city is, as we know, utterly inexhaustible. For various good reasons (I was a student, then I was a graduate student, then I was with students) I've never been to Galleries Lafayette. Woo-ha!

Glorious, isn't it? There's a Zola short story about a sales girl (is it?) at the Samaritaine (is it?) (forgive me, Mac!) that Mac teaches in his "Paris and Berlin" course that I really, really want to read now. It's all glitter and light and the fantastic in there. And crowded, and the furtive look for that special something, and the inevitable existentialism (what's all this sopping for?) replaced by the thrill of conquest. For me, it was a red raincoat (which will make an appearance later) - for Mamie, her favorite perfume and an adorable Paris t-shirt.

I invite you to peruse the fantastic web site of the Louvre "Sainte Russie" exhibition. The two gentlemen you see on the first page of the site are saints Boris and Gleb, my new best buds (and the inspiration for the title of the post). The curator is none other than Jannic Durand, who, thanks to the great auspices of the Ilene Forsyth Speaker Series from ICMA, came to DePauw. Seeing unfathomably precious and well-preserved works of art in every medium imaginable (from animal horn to silk to parchment to gold) from over 600 years of Russian art surrounded by hundreds of people in these splendid rooms at the Louvre, I could hardly believe that the man responsible for all this had actually been to DePauw. But he had (and gave a great talk on relics and reliquaries, too). This show had it all: scope, history, objects you loved for their stories, objects you loved for their materiality, great beauty, great mystery. The goal was to reveal the dynamic of Russian art, as it absorbed and played with both the Scandinavian influences of its geography and the Byzantime influences of its choice of religion. It. Was. Splendid. Here, Mamie and I took a break before heading off to make a pilgrimage to Rembrandt's Bathsheba - still one of the most breathtaking and poignant works of art ever (the letter she holds is from King David, bidding her to come - how can she refuse the king? how can she betray the husband she loves?

The Louvre Pyramid disgorged us back onto the entrance grounds where we were buffeted by insane winds - good thing for a bus, then a walk down Boulevard Saint-Germain then, ah, the hotel, where we reveled in our day and new apparel. Hee hee.

Dinner was exquisite: a 1906 brasserie called Bouillon Racine. No we did not have reservations, but yes they were very nice to us and we ate risotto and fish and ended with a crème brûlée (Mamie) and sorbets (me). Paris is a world apart - Brittany seems like another land, another era (one I miss dearly already - good thing I'm heading back Thursday, eh, kids?). I think what fascinates me most is how Paris leaves you wanting more. No matter how exhausted you are, there's one more corner, one more restaurant, one more show that you're curious about. So we're doing something we've never done before: we booked tickets for a performance of Molière's Les femmes savantes for tomorrow night. !!!!! A bondafide French théâtre performance!!!! Vive Paris!


  1. Ooh-la-la! both look absolutely gorgeous!, love, loving that red raincoat! I think I might even have a wee case of slicker envy! You two are definitely doing Paris up right! Can't wait to hear all about the show and the rest of your adventures. Hugs and kisses to you and your sweet mom, and hi, of course, to those dear souls holding down the fort in Brittany.xox~a

  2. Hee hee - soon soon it'll be you and me and Mals, dear friend!

    Vive la everything!