Not too long ago, a little less than three millennia, men and women were already living passionate love lives and their stories inspired works of art that are still admired today. More recently, less than a thousand years ago, people spoke with delight, in many civilizations, of courtly love and the delicate art of making one’s love known by a poem, a painting, a song, or any other manifestation of beauty.
This week, for commercial reasons hidden under a romantic pretext, a flood of impulsive purchase of objects or services of all kinds will inundate the world. As if the ultimate contemporary proof of love was money.
There is still time to remember that what is bought, sold and offered is not a substitute for passion, tenderness, attention, benevolence and altruism. And that the most intense love is not the one we receive, but the one we give. Gratuitously. Without expecting anything in return.
Moreover, in order to escape this invasive market dictatorship of the most intimate sphere and in order to not allow the manifestation of love to be reduced to a commercial act, I hereby propose an exercise that might be more interesting and revealing: refuse any commercial manifestation of love and offer to a loved one a visit to the museum and the replica of the work of art, which to you seems to speak best of your love. And if you want to go further, offer to the other the trip to go contemplate this work at the museum, or at the site in the world, wherever it is.
A replica! Someone will burst out with disdain. It sucks, devoid of poetry, flat, and not generous! Anyone can have that and it does not say anything about how valuable the relationship is!
Let’s not fool ourselves: In sculpture, replicas are as precious as the originals, which are only a series of arbitrarily limited duplicates. This has been well demonstrated by a long discussion among specialists in a famous text of Roland Barthes. For paintings, they are now more and more faithful to the concept of replicas, and museums are beginning to understand that they are their allies and not their rivals.
So let us dare to think about the best way to express a feeling through a work of art. Depending on what one might want to say, I can recommend a particular work.
For example, Raphael Cupid and Psyche; Paysage orageux avec Pyrame et Thisbé by Nicolas Poussin; The Jewish Bride of Rembrandt ; Watteau The Love Song ; the Appearance by Fragonard; the innumerable Kiss, of Canova, Lautrec, Camille Claudel, Klimt, Picasso or Brancusi; The Lovers of Magritte; Louise Bourgeois’s Couple; or the performances of Marina Abramovic with Ulay in Venice in 1976 and Moma in 1982; or finally, in extreme cases, the letter of rupture received by Sophie Calle and displayed with her comments.
Better yet, a work of art created by you. Because everyone can do it.
So, take painting, sculpture, tapestry, pottery and drawing lessons, and then get started. Express yourself. Take the time you need.
And you will know how to say, better than the most precious jewel, that your love, in and of itself, is a work of art.