Inside the Musee d’Orsay’s Dream and Reality Exhibition
Above: Frédéric Bazille L'ambulance improvisée
Painting courtesy of Musée d'Orsay
Writing comes naturally to me but having this privilege to write the first blog post as the editor of a very new student-centric blog adds to the challenge of managing the blog on a daily basis. “It has to be perfect!”, “It has to be immaculate!” or “This debut to the virtual world needs to gain prominence.. and what you write at the start is important!”, my friends and colleagues tell me.
I will be honest right now and say that while this blog was still in its planning stages and when I approached both students and faculty in Duke-NUS to contribute, I was secretly afraid that everyone was going to say no to me because of their hectic schedules. BUT, I was proved wrong. Not a single contributor I approached turned me down. My heart skips a beat every time I see a “Yes” or a “Sure” in my inbox.
Work for me as a student recruiter in the Office of Education starts at 7.15am daily. (Do not get me wrong, I choose the early dawn time to soak in the quietness to concentrate better!). The steady stream of people I meet charts like a forex graph; starting slow and steady, with peaks in the afternoon and well into the evening. It varies day by day but all in all, I meet many students, faculty and staff at Duke-NUS daily. The trails and impressions of these people impact me so much that they do trickle into my mind outside of work as well. Call it unhealthy, crazy, bad or not, I think this has been the key part of Duke-NUS that keeps me excited ever since I joined the school about a year ago - the people.
And so while I was at the Musee d’Orsay’s Dream and Reality Exhibition, I was particularly drawn to the painting showcasing the French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet , entitled “L'ambulance improvisee” (The Improvised Field Hospital) by Frederic Bazille. As a fan of Monet, it was exceptionally wonderful to get to finally see the original painting of how someone perceived Monet on a piece of canvas, rather then the person behind the canvas.
It was a period in Spring and Monet had set off to Chailly, in the forest of Fontainebleau to do some open air work. He had asked his close friend, Bazille, to join him so that he could use him as a model. Bazille arrived in summer and unfortunately, Monet had broken his leg in an accident and had to take a break from work.
Bazille, who originally studied medicine, recalled his time as a medical student, and with his own ingenuity, constructed a complicated contraption to make his friend more comfortable while recuperating from his accident. A container, clearly acting as a counterweight, was suspended from two ropes, and blankets piled up to raise the injured leg.
Several things struck and impressed me; not only from the painting, but also about Bazille: the fact that he made his friend comfortable by thinking of a nifty contraction (creative genius, pushing his boundaries) and also his ability to capture all of Monet’s rather stiff expression, while in pain in a beautiful painting. I get a sense of Bazille-ness amongst the folks that make up the faculty and students of Duke-NUS. Our students for one are a talented bunch of people who like Bazille, create masterpieces and push the envelope in their own time while studying medicine. The Faculty too, is as equally amazing in each of their own individual personas. In this blog, you will discover the many wonderful stories, snippets and journeys of students and their escapades, faculty discussions, honest views and true to life pictures of the school and its community. We hope to inspire you as a reader as you flip through each story.
Bazille ultimately gave up his medical studies for a life dedicated to art, but it was both his creative genius and his thinking out of the box that has left an imprint in history and an inspiration to others.
Also seen at the exhibition:
Left: Monet's Woman with a Parasol
Right Above: The Seine at Giverny
Right Below: Regatta at Argenteuil
All Paintings courtesy of Musée d'Orsay
Dina Ho, Editor