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Works of art

I can’t tell you what art is, but I know it when I see it.

When you go to an art museum, filled with art, chances are that you’re there to see art. And if that art museum happens to be The Louvre, saying that there’s plenty of art to see defines understatement. As it happens, that’s exactly where my wife and I were last week.

And boy-howdy, did they have art. We saw all the usuals over a period of several hours (yes, the Mona Lisa is way smaller than you expect), and were absolutely blown away by it all. But I was also drawn to an art object not “on display” in the usual sense.

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To be honest, when I first saw that chair early-on during our visit I thought it was part of the exhibits, and was shy about getting too close lest I set off some laser-beam alarm system. Well, at least until someone sat in it. And as we walked the halls I realized not only that they were obviously for visitors, but that there were hundreds upon hundreds of them.

A cursory glance says it’s just plywood and, technically, it is. But the plies were all solid oak, each maybe a bit more than 1/4” Chair sides and seat were five plies, and about 1-1/2” thick. The back, meanwhile, was 13 plies, totaling maybe 3-1/2” to 3-3/4” thick. The chair was massively heavy.

Also at first appearance, it doesn’t look particularly comfortable with that 90-degree backrest. But that scalloped-out portion at the inner top was at just the right height and angle to lean back while seated, and it was plenty comfy. There were no visible fasteners so I could only guess at the joinery, and I have no idea what that silver disc is on the side. (Probably something to do with laser-beam alarms.)

The thing that got to me was that here in this biggest collection of the world’s finest and most famous art, even things not intended for appreciation can be just as artful to eyes that know what they’re looking at. I’m betting I’m not the first woodworker who’s done so. But art it was — and will forever be — and if you ask me, it has just as much right to be there as that Mona Lisa thing.

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