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Paris: Visit at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts

May 18, 2006

That master students at the Bergen National Academy of the Arts are in Paris for a study trip this week. I am comming along as do most of the staff at least for a short part of the trip. We arrived late Monday. Tuesday the staff met at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts for a brief guide. We also had a staff meeting there planning the fall season. During the guide trip we got to see more walls and room than students or student activity. The buildings are saturated with history and tradition. Some of the staff members felt it to be a bit to much but I believe that it is making a stronger impression on us because we are not surrounded with the traces of history in a daily basis in this way. I suppose that if you live and work in this kind of environment on a daily basis you get rooted in a different way but at the same time you also manage to maintain a freedom. Still I was reminded of the encounter between John Cage and a Deutch musician:

Once in Amsterdam a Dutch musician said to me “it must be very difficult for you in America to write music for you are so far away from the centers of tradition.” I had to say “It must be very difficult for you in Europe to write music you are so close to the centers of tradition.”

Maybe because I have been reading about Picasso’s Mademoiselles d’Avignon lately and the influence African masks made on him I was particularly captivated by the faces of two female statues on one of the facades. Time weather and probably pollution have treated them badly and I found the resulting abstraction haunting.