The Smithsonian is good for a few things, and shelter from the rain is definitely one of them! Yesterday I was showing some friends around The Mall, briefly, and we ducked into the Museum of Art. Partially because the rain was getting a bit heavier, and partially because the sculpture interested us.

I’m more drawn to sculpture than paintings usually, which is sort of odd coming from someone who is such a shutterbug, I suppose. I can’t explain it. I enjoyed the sculpture, and I’ll go back sometime when I don’t have to worry about time or other people. I’ll sit and rest and let my brain rest and really enjoy the sculpture. I love that the Smithsonian is free!

We all got separated at some point, and I decided to head back upstairs to where I had a cell signal so that when the others tried to get us rounded up, it would be possible. Upstairs were mostly paintings. Luckily I wandered through some rooms that had paintings that have the certain elements I’m drawn to, and this is where things coincide with my photography. Expressions, texture, and light. I will go back for more time with these as well. Have I said that I love that the Smithsonian is free?

As I wandered through these rooms, I came across a painting that I barely glanced at the first time I saw it, but was then drawn back to again and again. It had none of the elements that draw me visually, but it made me think and think. Turns out this is my typical reaction to paintings by this particular painter – Masson, if my googling has not failed me. Typical based on the paintings of his currently on display at the Smithsonian, anyway. This particular painting was “The Dead Matador.”

And yes, the painting depected exactly what you would have expected.

I’ve actually been to a bull fight in Spain. I didn’t really want to go, but ended up going to “experience” something that was an essential part (I was told, quite earnestly, by the group of americans and englishman I was travling with at the time) of Spanish culture. I hated it. The bulls do not have a chance in these bull fights. They are wounded and weakened to a quite severe point by the time the matadors are put into dubious danger.

I wouldn’t wish harm on anyone, but I had a vindictive happiness when one of the matadors was knocked out by a flying hoof and had to be carried out on a stretcher. He was already awake by then. He was fine. The bull was killed, as usual. They have no chance. Even if they managed to kill a matador, they are dead before they leave the ring.

Gruesome. That painting had me thinking about many things. Masson painted it in the 1930’s, I believe. It is possible that there was more danger to the matadors then. Or maybe not, and the bull got “lucky”. I am sure the bull had the same fate as the bulls I saw in ’95, regardless of their “success”. Masson’s statement with his painting was completely ambiguous. I, of course, read a criticism of bull fighting into it. How could I not? Veganism is at the core of me.

I imagine that someone in love with violence and danger would read something absolutely different into that painting. I can’t stop thinking about it.

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