USA 1981

‘What would you like to do while you’re in town?’ I asked my bearded friend. I am an art and design teacher so perhaps his answer was to please me. He named some art galleries and a few other sites. He visited some alone and we went together to others.

On one expedition we saw the following: Michaelangelo’s statue of David; Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, which are the doors from the Baptistry in Florence; and the famous Mystery of Life statues: a philosopher scratching his head, the self-satisfied clerics knowing they understand, the child looking at the chicken and an egg. There was also a mosaic of the signing of the Declaration of Independence (20 feet by 30!) as well as the stained window version of da Vinci’s Last Supper and the Polish painter Styka’s Glorification of Christ. That last one was 195 feet long and 45 feet high.

Forest Lawn

Forest Lawn

I kept asking ‘have you seen enough?’ These are really the worst forms of art imaginable. Not only are we in Los Angeles (not Rome, Florence or even Warsaw) but we are in a cemetery, where the extensive lawns, elegantly clipped, contain hundreds of flat name-plaques with a foot-deep hole next to them for their mourners’ flowers. And dotted around the cemetery are these crass out-of-context copies of true art. This cemetery boldly says in its publicity that it ‘serves the living’. I’m only coming back if I’m dead!