I drove to the town of Apt, which is a 15 minute drive from Bonnieux, just to get a feel for it since it is the biggest little town nearby. A town that is charming on some days, and tired and brooding on others, but most lively and engaging on Saturdays when the market comes to town. Today it was a dreary old place until I turned a corner and came upon the Marie, their city hall, and there it was! The Tree, in all its formality, poised like the rising tree in Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
Sitting at the top of a grand staircase in front of an old Beaux Arts style building, this transformation from forest creature to garish ornament made me wonder about our definition of beauty. Because, while being absurd, and oddly cheery, it is also beautiful in an unexpected way, and perhaps this absurdity is where its beauty comes from. Who says the two can’t accommodate each other.
Finally, it raises the question for me about what constitutes beauty today, and why is it so often suspect in the contemporary art world? This is something I’ll be thinking about.