Not Just a Pretty Picture

March 20, 2016

by apaparis

I have a love hate relationship with my art history class at the Sorbonne. At times the analysis seems farfetched. For some reason, art history professors enjoy teaching in semi-darkness which is not particularly conducive to staying awake. As this is my first time studying the material, I cannot keep up with everyone’s knowledge of obscure facts.

However, after my oral presentation there was a shift.

Researching Renoir’s Les Grandes Baigneuses in depth, I actually began to understand the merit of studying art, not just looking at it. My friend was visiting from the US this week and we headed over to the d’Orsay where I was surprised to see how much I’ve learned. There is also a change in perception when you can situate a piece in its historical context or know the artists background.

I could have just written an essay, but I am glad I went outside of my conform zone and chose to do the oral presentation. It was far from perfect, but this is the first time I actually felt equal to the other students in my section. Just because they are native French speakers or have been studying art for years, doesn’t mean their work will be perfect and there is nothing like commiserating over an assignment to bring students together.

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