I find museums incredibly inspiring 98% of the time.
The other 2% of the time, the experience sucks.
I get furious or depressed or both.
Why did this artist make it big? Why don’t I?
Yeah, bottom-line, I’m jealous. Of their success.
Why am I sharing this ugly, self-pitying, arrogant side of me? Because maybe you feel the same sometimes – and I don’t want you to feel you’re the only one!
The shovel for this rabbit hole of blech? Le Musée Fernand Léger in Biot. The first Sunday of the month is free for musées nationaux, and the MFL is one of only three near us. It’s on the way to the park where we were taking the obligatory Sunday promenade. So the MFL it was.
I like painter Fernand Leger. I do. Especially when he opts for cheerful colors. But going through the museum, it seems like he was a success, out of the gate.
Art buddies with all the big artists of the time. Exhibitions at the big salons. Even earned a cute nickname for his style of cubism - Tubism.
Commissioned to decorate Nelson Rockefeller’s apartment and murals for the UN General Assembly. Taught at Yale. Buddies with my idol, John Dos Passos.
Dabbled over into film, with Man Ray (yet another famous friend). Made the first film without a script - Who Knew? - starring famous muse Kiki de Montparnasse (why is she famous??)
Made huge mosaics and murals and stained glass windows and set/costume designs and even taught Serge Gainsborough! And got a huge museum with his name – and a huge mural - on it!
What sucks about making theatre is that for most of its life – and yours – no one sees it. Unless you’re Molière or O’Neill. You write endless drafts that live in your digital drawer or maybe your writing group. You may dash off “sketches” of scenes or songs but they’re nothing you can hang on a wall or put in a display case in a museum. Unless you’re John Lennon. Or Fernand Leger.
I rant my sour grapes to my husband. He tells me I sound like this hit French song I’ve never heard, Le Chanteur (The Singer), by Daniel Balavoine.
Hi, my name is Henri.
I want to be successful, for people to love me
To be good-looking, earn a ton of money
I’m a singer, I sing for my friends
I want to write hits that get played and played
And walking down the street,
I want people to be talking about me.
So He-Of-The-Big-Hair turned his sour grapes into lemonade – or should I say a grand cru. Now HE makes me furious. Mostly at myself.
I officially hit the bottom of the last bottle at my pity party.
If I can’t write a hit, I can honor a promise I made: to write about life here in France, and about The Writing Road. Try to offer some value to others.
So I start the post, do a bit of research on Léger.
Apparently, I’m wrong about him.
It took him a while to find his stride. He tried architecture and decorative arts first. Wasn’t part of big exhibition until he was 30.
During WWI, he kept creating, even sketching in the trenches. I’m starting to like him better.
Never drove or used a telephone. Hm. Now he’s intriguing me.
I feel better. This is one reason I write: to process my emotions. So much cheaper than therapy. Right?
And suddenly, Léger is more than Léger, he’s an epiphany.
My 2024 French horoscope said I need to lighten up.
Guess what léger means in English?
My lemonade is this post.
And the deep dive I’ve already started into Kiki de Montparnasse. Monologue to appear tomorrow on #WhyWaitWednesday.
Kiki de Montparnasse - photo by Man Ray - stay tuned for more!