Monday, April 11, 2011

Gustave Moreau: Pagan Gods & Christian Saints, and a Night with Bach

I went on a special Mission yesterday to see the Gustave Moreau Museum in Montmartre. Moreau's dream-like paintings fascinate me. Highly influenced by Delacroix and Chasserieu, Gustave Moreau had a fanciful and stylized vision all his own.

He is considered a Symbolist painter and also a Romanticist, though he rejected labels and categories to describe his work. The themes in his paintings brought together Pagan mythology and Christian belief, often illustrating how Greek and Roman myths foretold the life, death and resurrection of Christ, the ultimate Hero and Path to Divine wisdom.

Moreau never married and had no children, living a life completely devoted to his art. He was ill leading up to his death and made arrangements for his elegant 3-story home and studio to be made into a museum. It is dazzling. His paintings are huge and even though many of them are unfinished, they are windows into the mind of this great painter. Plus, they look amazing against the Salmon-colored walls. Whoever chose this paint swatch was a genius.

Tonight I treated myself to a really special experience - I bought a ticket to see J.S. Bach's "The Passion of St. John" performed in the Church of Mary Magdalene in Paris.

Bach composed this as a Lenten Mass for a church in Leipzig in the 1700's, and I felt like I was transported there. It is Bach's interpretation of Christ's passion according to the Gospel of John. This piece less 'finished' than his other works and carries the raw drama and tension of Jesus' arrest, judgment under Pontius Pilate, and subsequent torment and death. It was incredibly moving, to say the least.
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Location:Paris, France

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