I called my boyfriend from some lofty corner of the Louvre and asked him to order me a bit of pure white marble.“A couple of tons ought to be enough to start with,” I said placidly while two English speaking women sat next to me, café mochas suspended in mid-air, mouths agape as they apparently tried to figure out if I was joking.I did not notice this until I told Bob where the marble should be placed in his backyard so I could catch the light just so.This was absolutely necessary as I was planning on immortalizing Shea, our beloved Staffordshire terrier, in marble.
But first, I would need sculpting lessons. “Maybe,” I mused aloud, “A local university has a decent art program back home.”
I had to find somebody to teach me the basic techniques of sculpting on account of all the master sculptures having up and died centuries ago.I find this very inconvenient but then again, there is always Google.
Bob being Bob did not even ask how he was supposed to locate, pay for and transport several tons of pure white marble (with one vein of pure black so I could capture Shea’s ‘pirate eye’ naturally).Ever the practical one in this partnership, Bob is more grounded than that.
“How in the world are you going to get her to sit still for this?” he asked calmly.
Talk about a buzz kill.
Still, I am not deterred.I am totally taking up sculpting because this is a way the great artists of their day committed their subjects to immortality.This is also why the Winged Victory of Samothrace sculpture is my first artistic muse, the one masterpiece I absolutely must see each and every time I visit the Louvre.
The old girl hasn’t changed from what I can tell, she’s huge and imposing and robust despite missing her head and all. I like to think that she looked a bit like me, only with longer more flowy hair and a firmer butt. For you history buffs, The Nike of Samothrace as she is also called, was discovered in 1863. She is estimated to have been created around 190 BC though it is totally rude to ask a lady her real age. She was created not only to honor the goddess, Nike, but to honor the victory of a sea battle. Artsy types will tell you that this work conveys not only a sense of action and triumph but by portraying artful flowing drapery and through its features, the Greeks considered her ideal beauty. Yet for me, this masterpiece is all about winning, triumph, overcoming the odds. No surprise that we cancer survivors are all about overcoming the odds. And immortalizing something important. We modern folks need more Winged Victories both metaphorically and in solid marble. Someone ought to commission a statue of Steven Jobs for instance. The iconic should never be forgotten.
Every so often, as I cruise the Louvre, I take a random photo (never using flash of course) of a face, usually a sculpture but occasionally I find a compelling image in a painting or some other medium. It’s always a face that haunts me, that makes me pause and there is always something in it that causes me to wonder how this person lived and yes, how they died. They must have been important in some fashion or another, as some genius chose them as a subject for immortality. And since I don’t see the Louvre parting with these treasures any time soon as something that should really be gracing my yard or mantle, I take photos of them all. Sometimes I find myself holding my breath because I am so awed by the genius and perfection I am privy to. Sometimes I even say goodbye. But the Winged Victory is the only masterpiece that I promise to return to. She makes me think I will be back ─ and that I will somehow find a way to get Shea to sit for her portrait in marble.
Even a dog deserves to be immortalized now and then.