Sleeping Faun in the Louvre Courtyard
He was quite beautiful in form, a replica of chiseled Greek perfection. He lay seductively before me completely nude and exposed. But despite his provocative pose all I remember thinking was what beautiful light there was in the Louvre. I went from statue to statue in the courtyard admiring and studying each piece of art feeling glad there was enough natural light I could take a decent photo with just my phone.
That night I laid in my hotel bed and flipped through all the lovely photos I had taken that day at the museum. As I typically did before bed, I posted my favorites to my Instagram feed and within minutes would have a variety of nice comments. Not long after posting my photo of the "Sleeping Faun" I received a comment from a woman in Tennessee:
"Girl! What are you thinking!? My kids follow your feed and they don't need to see stuff like this!"
I looked over at my mother who was in the bed beside me. "Well, I can tell this lady has never been to an art museum."
Mom's reply, "Frankly, I'd rather my kids learn about anatomy from the Louvre than
"Well you know how conservative the South can be," I replied.
"Could be I guess," mom said.
I thought about how I would reply to the mother in Tennessee. Still feeling a bit put off from her remark I said, "If you have a problem with the piece, you should take it up with the Louvre."
I turned out my light and went to sleep.
We've all heard the expression "you need to sleep on it." A good night's sleep can give you a new perspective on things.
The next morning, before I even got out of bed, I reached for my phone and opened up to Instagram.
To my utter shock, starring back at me was a naked man, spread legged and cocky.
My heart sank. This was the same naked man I'd photographed the day before. The same piece of art I told the Tennessee mother to just "get over."
My heart sank not because I thought it was wrong, but because in that moment I saw the Sleeping Faun from the perspective of the the woman from the South. What she saw was vulgar. If I
took away the fact that this was a priceless antiquity from the world's most famous art museum, and took away the fact it is a spectacular piece of human craftsmanship, then, yes, what I was left with was vulgar.
I wondered about the mothers of ancient Greece. Did they instinctively cover their children's eyes when passing a sculpture such as this? I imagine the Sleeping Faun left many swooning in Athens. He is beautiful and artistic but he is also sexy. I knew it and the Greeks knew it and the conservative mother from Tennessee knew it.
And don't all parents have the right to shield their children from objects they find offensive? Of course they do.
I felt bad for what I said to the woman and I deleted the photo from my feed. I don't agree with her, but I respect her.
Incidentally, I had my own daughter with me at the Louvre that day. She's ten years old. I asked her what she thought of the Sleeping Faun.
Her reply? "Ugh, I don't want to see that thing again. That's just disturbing mom."
I know that one day she'll change her
perspective. But for now, I'm glad she's had the experience of the Louvre. I'm glad she's seen ancient art and beautiful sculpture and a depiction of the human body she won't find in the media today.
I, for my part, am grateful she's seen "stuff like this."
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