What is art?

I’ve been reading the biography of Marion Milner, and I have been fascinated by some of her observations about art and writing and awareness.

So I was very excited to do a little experiment of my own on my family trip to Paris this weekend.

We hadn’t especially planned to visit the Louvre, I favoured the Musee d’Orsay instead, but when my son expressed an interest in going to see the Mona Lisa, that’s where we decided to head. And I with my resolution to widen my awareness, to allow my attention to be drawn rather than thinking hard about what should be drawing it. For I had learned, whether from Milner or elsewhere, that true art has the power to move us, to make something happen to our inner reality, to make us stop and take notice.

However our first stop was the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre – a perfect place to begin to get a feel for the city – with accordion music in green leafy squares and locals sipping on cool glasses of pale pink wine or tiny cups of treacly espresso.

And there, just beyond La Place du Tertre, sits La Biscuiterie de Montmartre, with the most astonishing of window displays.

Macaroons

Macaroons. With their pastel glossiness, eye-catching arrangement and tempting packages. Heart-stoppingly pretty, and telling of a craft and a dedication generations old.

So there it happened. My attention was drawn, quite accidentally, quite delightfully. By a plate of macaroons. Was this art?

Perhaps. The dusty works of the Louvre had to work doubly hard after this.

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