A day in Detroit

After a night in the Travelodge by the airport (not recommended – paper thin walls and a depressing bathroom) I got up late and took an Uber to the Detroit Institute of Art, stowed my bag at the coatcheck, then found my way to a slightly unsatisfactory cappuccino and an enormous blueberry muffin for breakfast. Then, properly fuelled, I went to look around the galleries.
There was a quaint spiral staircase that reminded me of Bodiam Castle (but with flat steps, rather than deeply concave ones) so I ascended to some religious art from the 15th century, and a chapel that had been removed from France in the 20s, immediately reminding me of the Cloisters in New York.

There are lots of very friendly docents in the museum, and one approached me to ask if I had any questions. I didn’t have any immediately, but then I remembered it’s always a good idea to ask people what their favourite thing is. She took me to Judith’s decapitation of Holofernes, which made me immediately think "ah, Carravaggio" but it was actually a female apprentice of his. There was a Carravaggio two down from this, but with a very inferior face (or Carravaggio was accurately rendering a very boss-eyed model).

Then she took me to see a hilarious Breughel (The Wedding Dance, which has lots of codpieces) and then steered me towards the Detroit Murals of Industry. These were painted by Diego Rivera in the 1930s, and because of the technique (paint on plaster) the colours haven’t changed since. The murals show car, airline, poison gas and bomb manufacture, as well as vaccinations and workers looking tired. So a balanced view of the military industrial complex, I guess.

I spent something like 4 hours walking around the galleries and I was quite tired by the end. There was too much to mention here: some fun modern work, including a set of prints dedicated to Wittgenstein (although the docent there was suggesting to somebody that because the Tractatus is short, it’s easy to read…), and lots of paintings of children that reminded me I miss La Serpiente and Destroyer.

Oh, and a lot of poultry, which pleases me and my wife no end.

About 3:15 I left, had an awful coffee, and headed back to the airport. Back to Seattle for the next adventure…

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