before the mirror

Last week, my friend Linda came into town and stayed with me. On Sunday, we decided to take advantage of my wonderful corporate benefits and go to a couple of museums (I get in for free…along with a guest); the Met and the Guggenheim. I had never been to the Guggenheim and, sadly, didn’t actually know what kind of art it housed, beyond what I had seen in When in Rome. Being a huge fan of late 19th/early 20th century art, it did not disappoint. I fell in love with the museum (it’s much less overwhelming than the Met).

Art is such an interesting thing. There are certain things, objective things, that we can all understand and appreciate if we study it, but then there is the subjective aspect which is what I think makes it so amazing. Whether music, theater, sculpture, film, paintings, etc, we all experience it differently.

Before the Mirror – Edouard Manet – 1876

I can’t say that Manet is one of my most favorite artists, but I do love that period in French art and I do love several of his paintings. However, this painting is a new favorite. I think, in part, because this woman could be any woman. You don’t see her face. She’s not supermodel skinny. She’s just a woman, and even without seeing her face, you can (or at least I can) tell that she’s beautiful…because it’s not about her face. It’s not about her body. It’s about being a woman. And there’s something in her pose that indicates that she knows this; her posture, her hands, the way she’s turned.

Looking at this painting, which I did for several minutes, I had a very personal experience; my own little revelation. And this is what I LOVE about art, in whatever form. And how lucky am I to live in a city where I have access (sometimes discounted or even free through my job) to so many amazing museums, productions, concerts, etc? What New York lacks in natural beauty, it makes up for in the manmade variety.

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