56 SC Exhibitions Magazine 2016 The Jean Cocteau Museum in Menton on the Côte d Azur is from the outside a startling building Standing right by the Mediterranean it looks like a finely carved ice shelf or a stout structure held up by dancing fridges Inside light flows through great windows giving onto the sunny seascape On my recent visit there were rather more people star ing out of these windows than there were looking at Cocteau s oeuvre paintings drawings texts They were reflecting Their reflections almost cer tainly ran thus Why the hell am I in here among stuff of absolutely no interest to me and not out there strolling paddling or drinking beer I am confident of this because when their minds were dragged back to the museum they romped through at a fair old lick taking not a moment to consid er the polymath artist s anguished evolution They wanted out A few days later the story was the same at the Picasso Museum up in the castle at Antibes The place was packed but most people trooped past paintings as if they were stains on the wall Only a video interview with photographer David Douglas Duncan Picasso s most dogged chronicler really grabbed any attention If you ve been to the Louvre you ll know that for every person engrossed there are a couple of hundred herding through desperate to escape Meanwhile I ve rarely seen people move through a building as fast as they moved through and then out of the Joan Miro Foundation in Barcelona The looks of relief at the exit were matched only by those worn by survivors of a Pierre Soulages exhibi tion And if you ve been to the Louvre Hermitage Prado National Gallery etc you ll know that for every person engrossed there are a couple of hun dred herding through desperate to escape They are there because it is expected Visiting galleries and museums is what you do in towns and cities It s part of a conspiracy to insist we should all be passionate about art can t be cultured if we re not It s crazy obviously You wouldn t show up at Nobody Enjoys Museums So Why Do We Bother A few art historians aside we all visit museums and galleries simply because it s expected of us argues Anthony Peregrine Twickenham if you had no interest in rugby no one would think any the less of you So why troop through the Uffizi when for all you care Sandro Botticelli is singer Andreas s dad You can still be jolly clever A knowledge of Renaissance Italian art doesn t fix your car Or your heart Why troop through the Uffizi when for all you care Sandro Botticelli is singer Andreas s dad It s the culture price we pay to justify enjoying ourselves afterwards I ve heard Nonsense You re on holiday when no pain no gain becomes no pain no pain Lie by the pool Drink the cocktail Michaelangelo will survive without you and you without him And even if you do appreciate art and are in Menton think twice be fore shelling out 4 50 for the Cocteau museum bright but monotonous Prefer the salle des mariages in Menton town hall decorated by Cocteau in the late Fifties It s vivid purposeful and pleasingly debauched This article was first published in The Telegraph President Theodore Roosevelt visiting a museum photographed by Harris Ewing Found in the archives of the Library of Congress by Retronaut s photo curator Wolfgang Wild

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