Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stendhal Syndrome

Sorry folks. You can keep your Louvre, your Tate, your Prado, your Uffizi. Even (and it pains me to write this) your Thyssen and your Museo Sorolla. There's only one museum that has won a permanent place in my heart. The rest just don't hold a candle.

I am, of course, referring to the Musee d'Orsay. Wikipedia tells us the following about Stendhal Syndrome:

Stendhal syndrome, Stendhal's syndrome, hyperkulturemia, or Florence syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world.

I would submit that it is the only possible reaction of any sentient human to a visit to the Musee d'Orsay. Today I got to the museum at 4 pm, there was no line so I was able to go straight in. I left at 7 pm, having seen possibly only 10% of what the museum has to offer. But those three hours were as intense an experience as one could ever hope to have. Surely there is no other space on earth in which one experiences such a concentration of the best of human creativity, at least in the artistic sphere. Yes, I know, it's Eurocentric and heavily weighted to the 19th and 20th centuries. So what? It's sublime.

And I have plenty more Thursday evenings here in Paris. Guess where you will find me?

1 comment:

  1. I intend to return to view the Charles Rennie Macintosh bedroom if nothing else, but I'm sure I'll see many other things that thrill me. I agree, this is a splendid museum!