Monday, February 20, 2017


It was 1985 and I was in Paris. The first programme for the day was a visit to the Picasso Museum - Musée Picasso. Hôtel Salé - Salty. (Here is why it is called so) I don't remember its opening hours exactly. But, let us say 9:30 in the morning. I decided to go to the museum area a little early and look around. See the building from outside too. I reached the place at 9.

I was expecting a deserted place. I was so surprised when I saw that a long loose queue had already formed at the ticket counter! After all, the only musea I had seen till then were Jaganmohan Palace in Mysore, Visvesvaraya museum and the Government museum, Bangalore. Except on weekends and when tourist buses had arrived, they were very much deserted. Hence the surprise.

Whenever I had read about the public outcry caused by the paintings exhibited by rebel painters who had organised an exhibition parallel to the Paris Salon, I had always wondered why the general public would get so perturbed by art. Those painters were called les Fauves - French for "the wild beasts". The style or philosophy behind their paintings was called Fauvism for quite some time and are now called Impressionism. Those painters are now considered masters and trendsetters, is a different matter.

The queue half an hour before opening time gave me an idea, of sorts, of what art may mean to the general public.

Art Abroad V

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