Moving from painting to painting, I counted the steps I needed to make before reaching the exit. Slower, I thought, don’t walk so quickly. And so I stopped at the painting before me, cocked my head, and pretended to absorb the beauty.
Art had never been easy to understand. Imagery, history, and emotion compressed onto a canvas, expressed only though colors and strokes. Yet I found myself visiting a museum with two art enthusiasts, who, every few minutes, would proudly shriek “Oh how I love this painting!” and gush over the skillful technique and the elegant brushstrokes.
As people shuffled around me, admiring one painting after another, I absentmindedly marched toward the next painting on the wall, the Renoir next to the exit. The door was so close. It would have been easy to slide across the threshold undetected, but I inexplicably stood immobilized, staring at Renoir’s Dance at Bougival.
During this time, my friends silently crept up behind me and goaded me. Knowing my unfamiliarity with art, they jokingly teased me whenever they had an opportunity. But before they could make a remark, I started, “Did you know that Renoir used to be called Monsieur Rubens as a child? And even before he met his future wife, Aline Charigot, he was already portraying her in some of his paintings.”
I sighed and added, “And that poor man broke his right arm during a bicycle accident which made painting difficult for him.”
Surprised, my friends stared, open-mouthed, unsure how to react. I nonchalantly walked away, secretly thanking my Art Gallery at home. That one little box with ten books.