Monday, June 13, 2011

Peaches and Pears at the High

Balzac Petanque at the High Museum of Art
Balzac Petanque at the High Museum of Art
On a visit to the High Museum of Art yesterday, I finally was able to go out to the veranda off the main lobby to make some photographs of the gigantic sculpture of a peaches and pears picnic titled "Balzac Petanque."

The sculpture, with a bountiful 19 pieces of enormous fruit, is named for 19th century novelist Honore de Balzac and the French lawn bowling game called Petanque, which is gaining popularity in the U.S.

Peaches and Pears
Peaches and Pears
The reason I say "finally was able to" is because I have tried to see the sculpture up close more than half a dozen times over the last several months, but the veranda doors had been locked. I could see the sculpture through the glass walls, but it was teasingly out of reach.

On previous attempts, I had been told that the veranda is sometimes unlocked, but that the decision to unlock it was up to security, who consistently told me they didn't have enough guards to have it unlocked.

Finally, (there's that word again) on yesterday's visit I received further explanation (from the second lobby security guard who I saw as I was about to leave the Museum, again disappointed). She kindly explained that the sculpture had sustained some damage by previous visitors who climbed on the work of art, which is displayed in the open.

Now it all made sense. The $1.4 million sculpture, by husband and wife team Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, needed protection from the people it was intended to please, but who weren't sure exactly "how" they're supposed to enjoy it.

I'm surprised that there are no signs, especially in a country that excels in the production of "do not" signs, indicating "Do Not Touch" or "Do Not Climb"...and a little disappointed that so many visitors would treat a piece of art with such little respect (although, in our defense, there is a lot of public art where climbing is encouraged).

Peaches and Pears
Peaches and Pears
There must be an easier way to protect the peaches and pears while also allowing visitors to see them up close, instead of merely viewing their unique beauty through glass windows.

Either way, there's no missing the 8 1/2 feet tall, 45 feet wide and 55 feet deep sculpture...it's one of the first things you see when you walk into the magnificent High Museum of Art. But, I am totally thrilled that I finally got to see it up close.

On your next visit to the High, I hope you too get to see Balzac Petanque up close as well, just remember: do not touch, do not climb, and to stay out of the sand box. These simple and easy to follow viewing guidelines will help ensure that other visitors also get to see it later. Oh, and definitely do not eat.

1 comment:

Terry said...

I've never "seen" it as in your 1st picture. It gives me a new perspective. Thanks.