It’s been two months since Paris re-opened. Two months of being able to eat at restaurants. Two months of cinemas being open and live performances resuming. And of course, it’s been two months since the museums of Paris opened their doors and began welcoming visitors once more. It’s been a joyous two months, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been gorging myself on all of the arts and culture that this city has to offer. However, with COVID cases back on the rise and new measures being introduced to combat the spread of the Delta variant, Paris is once again facing an uncertain future. I hope things will stay open. I really hope that we don’t have to go back into lockdown. But at this point, all we can do is wait and see. That, and appreciate what we have right now.
It’s that sentiment that inspired this post, because as I look back on the past two months, I have so much to be grateful for. During that time, I have seen over a dozen exhibitions. Some of them I’ve already written about. Some of them are still to come. But there is one in particular that I will never forget. I actually hadn’t planned on writing about it, given that it’s already closed. But when I think about everything I’ve seen these past two months, this exhibition is definitely at the top of my list. I’m talking, of course, about Body and Soul at the Louvre.
I first wrote about this exhibition last year when I declared that it would be the highlight of the summer. This was pre-COVID of course, before we all knew what 2020 had in store for us. When Paris went into its second lockdown last fall, there were concerns that this exhibition would never re-open. The pieces in Body and Soul are world famous, and many of them were booked beyond their engagement at the Louvre. Indeed, some of them did have to be returned before the museum could re-open. However, the majority of the exhibition was able to be extended through June, meaning that as soon as it was possible, I booked a ticket.
I don’t think I need to say that this exhibition was extraordinary. As I said, the pieces on display were all masterpieces in their own right. But there was one moment in particular that I will always remember. I was standing in front of two statues; Rebellious Slave and Dying Slave by Michelangelo, pictured above. There was no one around and no cameras to block my view. Just me and two masterpieces by one of the greatest artists in history. And the contrast between their beauty as art and the horror they are depicting brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure you’re probably thinking I’m being melodramatic, but I promise you I’m not. I really did tear up in the middle of an exhibition at the Louvre. That’s why when I think about how much I appreciate the arts and culture of Paris, I think about that moment.
At this point, no one knows what the future has in store for us. All I know for sure is that I will never stop being grateful that I live in a city where I have so much arts and culture at my fingertips. That the museums of Paris can curate exhibitions that bring world renowned masterpieces to me. That I can be moved to tears by art that is right in front of me. I don’t know how I ever got to be so lucky.
For those of you reading this who live in Paris, I hope my weekly posts inspire you to explore more of this city’s arts and culture. And for those of you reading from elsewhere, I hope I can provide a window into what this city has to offer. I also hope that you will one day be able to visit and experience it yourself. I promise you, it will be an experience you will never forget. In the meantime, I will continue to explore for as long as I can and share what I discover. And to all of you who are following me on this journey, thank you.
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.