Writing About Art

March 31, 2018 at 2:21 pm (Art)

The more I read in art history, the more I encounter exceptionally beautiful and eloquent prose. I’d like to share some portions of it with you, in this and in future posts.

   In Rendez-vous with Art, Martin Gayford asks his co-author Philippe de Montebello, who served as Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 1977 to 2008, if he could name a particular experience that caused him to devote his life to art. Here is his response:

 That’s the toughest question, Martin, and the one most likely to yield an invention, or a half truth. But since an episode just happens to spring to mind, let’s go with it. It was my first love, actually, a woman in a book.
She was Marchioness Uta in Naumburg Cathedral and I loved her as a woman. When I was maybe fifteen years old, my father brought home a book called Les Voix du Silence by André Malraux. I leafed through it, looking at its great, four-tone black-and-white illustrations. And suddenly there was Uta, with her wonderful high collar, and her puffed eyelids, as though after a night of lovemaking. She stands perhaps twenty feet up in the west choir of the building, so you could never see her so close in reality. But then I was seeing her in a book, held in my hand. I still think she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world. I’ve since discovered, a bit to my dismay, that she can be found all over Internet, because it seems I’m not the only person who thinks she’s supremely alluring.

I love the simplicity and directness of the statement: “I loved her as a woman.”

 

Naumburg Cathedral, Germany – groundbreaking in 1028; consecration in 1044. Inside this ancient and holy edifice, Marchioness Uta, serene and unchanging, has captivated those who gaze upon her for close to eight hundred years.

1 Comment

  1. Laura Violand said,

    Hi Roberta- I am in Belgium and Germany until 4/9. Went to Brugge yesterday- been there? Can you email me what I had submitted for the show before —so I can update? I enjoy your posts. I joined the Smithsonian Associates Art History Certificate program a couple of years ago. I appreciate your posts of art lectures I don’t get to which are many since I still work full-time at GW Med School. Thanks. Laura Violand

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