Like many of you, I’ve seen every masterpiece of Western Art. The Mona Lisa? Yes. Starry Night? Of course. Girl With a Pearl Earring? Many times. But let me clarify: I’ve seen these extraordinary works of art over and over again in classes, on posters, and online. They’re usually extremely oversized (art history lectures, posters, movies) or cut into details (magnets, mugs, exhibition catalogs), and always completely out of context and proportion. That’s why we decided to create the Art in Real Life series: we wanted to give you a sense of the true size of works of art as compared to the average viewer.
Inspired by trips to famous museums during our studies abroad, we’ve created posts with photographs that show some of the world’s most famous masterpieces in their actual context. There’s nothing that can replace the experience of seeing a work of art in person, so our biggest hope is that this series will be a resource and inspiration for exploring these masterpieces more deeply.
My recent trip to Paris inspired several new Art in Real Life posts. This first post will focus on the Musée du Louvre, arguably the world’s most famous museum, as well as the one with the highest concentration of recognizable masterpieces in its vast collections. These collections add up to a total of 380,000 objects from prehistory to the presentonly 9.2% are on view at any given time.
The Louvre is the world’s most visited museum, with over 15,000 national and international patrons a day, and it certainly feels that way when you’re trying to fight through the crowds! Visiting the Louvre is a surreal experience since there seems to be a recognizable masterpiece (or a room of them) around every corner.
I can guarantee that you will get lost, but you’ll probably find something interesting along the way, for example, I recently found the Louvres new galleries of Islamic Art, which are housed under a sunny pavilion in a courtyard.