…And enjoying romantic art and love 4ever.
The amazing thing about art is that it can be many things-it can be crazy, it can be romantic, it can be cool. If you take a date to an art museum, you’ve got an exciting recipe for love and adventure: you could share affectionate glances, see and think about things that will shock and delight you, and get closer and closer to that powerful, everlasting true love. Plus, the restrooms in art museums are almost guaranteed to be above average.
Here in Richmond, we have a very charming art museum, it’s what the French might call “provincial,” meaning it has an unusually fine collection of beautiful landscape paintings. Is there anything more amorous than a beautiful landscape?1 Yes, the VMFA is a veritable pleasure grounds for blossoming romances, illicit weddings, and sensual art-based experiences. Let’s take a stroll through its gargantuan interiors and I’ll point out a few choice areas to visit, a few places to take a date, and spots where you can pause to gaze at something wonderful and chew on the thick fat of life.
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Stop #1: Clothespin Ten Foot
Claes Oldenburg, 1974
Damn, this sculpture is romantic! Two perfectly matched pieces of wood locked forever in a blissful embrace by a big iron wire. Whew, just makes you want to sit down and have a couple kids right away. Here, your date might say something along the lines of “Claes Oldenburg? Oh, he’s that guy that took all those ordinary objects and made them huge to play with our sense of social perspective and mess around a little bit with the conventions of fine art. He’s a little bit ‘lite’ in the grand scheme of things, but dammit, he’s fun and his shit actually looks good. I think I like him!” To which you should innocently ask them how to spell his first name. Chances are, they’ll miss that “e,” and go for a “u” as in “Klaus.” Got ’em. Points on the board. Start off with a win.
Stop #2 – A bar within the museum
Is it happy hour at one of the museum restaurants? Get it. Get to it quickly. Start here, don’t end here. And if you’re one of those people who thinks the art world has a tendency to use French words unnecessarily, order the soda du jour for your date.
Stop #3 – Battle of Centaurs and Lapiths
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1852
The Battle seems like an arbitrary pick, but this one kind of sums up a lot of Western art for me, with its exposed breasts, conveniently covered-up ding-a-lings, and overly sexualized horses. I don’t have much more to say about it, except a good question to ask here would be “Do you need to use the bathroom? They’re so clean.”
Stop #4 – The bench on the second floor overlooking Boulevard
You can just sit here with your back to the Tiffany stained glass window of Jesus Christ behind you and not look at any art at all, just gaze down at the sad parade of the everyday. This spot is good for grilling your date about privacy laws in the internet/post-911 age and whether or not he or she would like to live in a glass house. Also whether or not they believe that Jesus is watching over them, because if you’re sitting in the right spot on this bench, he literally is.
Stop #5 – The chairs
Oh god, the chairs in that museum are amazing. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Le Corbusier. Clean designs, modern, intriguing, and really sexy. What does that say about me that I’m more interested in the chairs than any sort of explicit imagery? It says I’m just trying to sit down. I’m tired.
Stop #6 – Basically, any place with a bench is good.
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And if you ask an average successfully married couple about the secret to romance, they will not say “honesty,” “communication,” “hot sex,” or “I was just being myself and realizing my full potential” — no, they will say, “tricks” and possibly “gimmicks.”
Because true love isn’t about true love at all, it’s about tricks and gimmicks–insignificant lies and maybe even theatrical prosthetics. So with any luck, by the end of this little cultural rendezvous you will have fooled your date into thinking that you are a mature, soulful, intelligent human being.
Good luck, daters, and happy Valentine’s day!
Photo by: Gamma Man