Haunting André Breton’s Haunt, Katherine Sanders

In Katherine Sanders, nonfiction on July 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm

As per my brother’s recommendation, I visited the Gustave Moreau museum, opened in 1903, where André Breton famously ogled his way toward Surrealism. And there is a lot to ogle about at 14 rue de la Rochefoucauld, the original home and studio of Moreau. Floor one contains a study, a bedroom and a sitting room fully furnished from Moreau’s time with his paintings covering every wall. Up the spiral staircase, floor two displays excerpts from critics next to some of Moreau’s major salon works and his paintings—most of them large-scale—on every wall. Once again up the spiral staircase the third floor displays a small (relatively speaking, of course) self-portrait of the artist and more of his paintings on every wall. I can’t speak very technically, barely making it through a drawing 101 course, but each of his paintings was masterfully done; a British artist doing research when I was looking around was kind enough to point out some of the intricate iconography in his drawings. Moreau is most well-known as a symbolist painter, letting objects and figures take on new significance and even mysticism. I was impressed not only by the large size of many of his works, but the sheer mass of them as well. There were about 1300 paintings and 5,000 drawings on display, not including the additional 8,000 drawings and paintings the museum holds in reserve. Just thinking about Moreau’s energy is inspiring. It’s been a challenge for me to be committed to writing a blog post every day, but having a glimpse into Moreau’s world made me feel more energetic about my own work, or if not, at least a little more wiling to ogle my way toward new ideas via the masters.


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