I’m a bit of a geek, and, as I’ve already discussed, I am mildly OCD.
I’m not an expert on anything, but I know a little bit about a lot of subjects. Almost all of it is totally useless trivia. I “play” Jeopardy when the show is on almost every evening and usually do pretty well. This trait came in handy as a journalist and still makes me a good partner in Trivial Pursuit. Otherwise it is pretty useless, and sometimes annoying to friends and family. Sorry ‘bout that.
Some of this trivial knowledge comes from the fact that I have always read a lot, and remember a lot of what I read. Some of it, especially science and art, comes from the outstanding high school I attended (Mt. Lebanon HS in suburban Pittsburgh), and a rather diverse collection of courses at the University of Florida (That’s what you get when you change your major three times.)
As a high school senior, I took a course in “Humanities” from an excellent teacher, Joanne Bailey. It covered art, architecture and music from ancient through modern times. As a result, I have a superficial knowledge of art and art history. (For the most part, music was a lost cause for me.) I’m no expert by any stretch, but I am just slightly conversant in some of the periods of art history, styles and some of the major figures.
This brings me to an incident a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Poolman and I were watching the ABC sitcom, “Suburgatory.”
In this episode, “Tessa” talks her neighbor “Dallas” into taking her into New York City for an afternoon. In one scene, the two are standing before a painting in an art museum and arguing whether it would be for sale. Dallas wanted to buy it, but Tessa said, “It’s not for sale.”
I looked at Mrs. Poolman and said, “I doubt it would be for sale. That’s a Degas.” I don’t recall ever seeing that particular painting before, and everything I knew about Edgar Degas could be written on the back of my fingernail. For some reason, I was able to ID the artist, or so I thought anyway. However, quickly I had self-doubt and felt the compulsion to see if my impulse ID was correct. (That’s the OCD part.)
I did what anyone else in the 21st century would do; I Googled “Degas” and “Metropolitan Museum of Art” to try to locate the painting. I searched high and low and could not find the painting in question, certainly not at the Met. Finally, I expanded my search and eventually located the painting. Here it is.
I couldn’t find it at the Met, simply because it isn’t there. It’s permanently housed at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, and to the best my search could find, has never visited the Met.
Then I realized, “Stupid me!,” the producers didn’t go to a museum to shoot the scene with the painting. The show is probably shot in Los Angeles anyway. They simply got a poster of a painting and used it in a studio shot.
The bottom line is –the poster in the TV show probably is for sale, for about $19.99 on line or in a museum gift shop.
I shared this experience with Mrs. Poolman, thinking that maybe she would be interested in the solution to the mystery. She just sighed deeply, and her eyes rolled back into her head. A little cartoon balloon appeared above her head: “What did I do to deserve this?”