Of all the goddess sculptures, The Winged Victory of Samothrace might fill in the most blanks for our mind's eye. We can see this celestial body descending to earth amidst a strong sea breeze. We think a more conservative body would have planned better for the winds and gotten a big puffy jacket for her chilly descent. But then, we know she's a goddess and all goddesses go around wearing shear clothing so that it flows properly as they move angelically about.
Sculptures of winged goddesses always carry our minds off, or they should. Although I suppose my mind is more easily carried off than others. This is simultaneously one of my greatest strengths and weaknesses. It is a strength because I have been afforded the great blessing of seeing an entirely different world regardless of where I am. I might be sleeping on the ground in and little African village, wandering through the allies of a dying midwestern manufacturing hub, or traipsing the great streets of Paris - it doesn’t matter – the world swirls around me as reality and my imagination become intimately intertwined.
It is this trait that causes me to do almost everything I do. I don’t live life thinking there could possibly be a better world one day, I live knowing there is one in my mind and it is my duty to get it out. Though, as it would seem, with every blessing there is a curse. It is far too easy for me to become distracted, living in the world inside my mind. It is far easier to look out and dream a new world than to build one. Realizing this duality I have come to learn something very important: we need each other. I alone could never see a single one of my dreams accomplished. While I may find it bewildering to speak with someone who can’t envision that which has not yet joined reality, I know I need them. I know it will be her who will begin to put one stone on top of the other as the vision in my mind is transferred to her hands. This is a beautiful thing.
I'm not exactly sure where your mind wanders when it encounters such sculptures. Since few of us have ever visited a land where goddesses traverse the sky, we must use our imaginations. This is good! That which is known only to the viewer is an essential part of beauty. Those who are not transported by art are those who see only the material in front of them. However, it is not entirely at the fault of the viewer. Often the curator shares in the blame as well.
I oscillate on my thoughts about her setting in the Louvre. On the one hand, its vast, unmodulated planes offer a backdrop of appropriately epic scale, and put her at center stage without filling our heads with a lot of superfluous information. It's a moody enough place that we can fill in imagery of a port filled with ships mooring for the occasion of a goddess arriving to bestow honor upon the victors of a battle at sea. On the other hand, I can't help but think the sculptor of the this winged creature saw her at the center of a symphony of other artistic elements meant to depict the whole scene in all its glory for the beholder, as it would be impossible for a mere mortal to conjure such momentous imagery all by himself. Can the guests of the Louvre bring the goddess to life in their imaginations, or does she remain an artifact to be studied? As I need a partner to realize my dreams, does she need her pantheon to be fully seen?