Summer thoughts

I may have gotten more vitamin D in the past month than I have in the past five years here in the Northwest. (We're not used to multiple, consecutive sunny days... it confuses us.) Just drinking in the sun, thinking about art.

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My family was definitely immersed earlier this summer, when we were fortunate enough to visit the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay. The trip also got me thinking A LOT about museum etiquette: OMG don't get so close to the artwork/ 250-year-old paintings don't like flash photos/ how do you NOT know how to behave in a museum?!

  Vincent van Gogh, "Self-Portrait," 1889

Vincent van Gogh, "Self-Portrait," 1889

After a certain point I found myself playing a mental game of "find a European artwork that includes black people." Medieval and Renaissance-era artists did depict people of African descent occasionally, and not always as servants, possessions or "noble savages." But even those sculptures make me think: this is still a black body rendered in a couple tons of marble, by an artist who died more than a century ago.

  Ernest Barrias, "The Alligator Hunters, or the Nubians," 1894

Ernest Barrias, "The Alligator Hunters, or the Nubians," 1894

And it's worth remembering that most museums allow you to borrow their air conditioning for hours at a time. Depending on where you live, summer really is cooler at the museum.