A MIND COMPLETELY BITTEN BY THE SERPENT OF SEX "You may think that the Grand Tour is about politics, & culture, & art, and you would be quite right; but it is also about gambling, and drinking, and sex. Particularly sex."
By 1126 I have the Max lounge completely to myself; the early morning breakfasters & early check-outs all gone; soon the early arrivals will come, their rooms not ready for check in so they will start to fill the lounge. I should make it a condition of every trip I do one cultural thing during my stay; but of course the flesh is weak & willpower weaker. And let’s face it I go to the same cities and I have been to all their main art museums so many times already. If there is at least 1 treasure in a museum that means so much to me—such as Richard Gerstl’s Laughing Self-Portrait in the Belvedere, Vienna, or Die Sunde in Neue Pinakothek, Munich—I can do it (and so many in Brussels’ old Museum of Modern Art before it was destroyed). I’m starting to miss my McDonald’s Royal Cheese & fries; perhaps I should go for it after all. One more beer in my bag still to finish off though.
So start my last day thinking about food, nothing about anything dirty, as always. I have to do something on my first or second days; it is too late after that as I become too sodden by drink, and too familiar with all the girls on offer in the clubs or on the streets, and familiarity has already bred contempt. If I didn’t feel like doing anything with them on day 1 or 2, I’m very unlikely to on days 3 or 4, let alone 5 or 6. Anyway, a long relaxing 6 days out of London. Some minor titillating pleasures, some minor erotic memories to take home. I’ve not done anything cultural and doubt I will until they reconstitute the old Museum of Modern Art (Modern in this case roughly meaning 1789 to 1939) as they have just lately announced they are to do. Should never have been broken up. Will the wonderful erotic Paul Delvauxs finally be brought out of storage, the Dali Temptation, the Bacon Pope with Owl, the Genie du Mal, the Alfred Stevens Salome; will La Figure Tombale be removed from her corridor and put back in a room full of treasures as she used to be. The loss of the old Brussels Museum of Modern Art is a wound in my soul that still bleeds. No doubt the Magritte Museum that took its place is a massive cash cow they are still milking, but it still should not have been allowed to happen. Open your Magritte Museum somewhere else and leave us our Museum of Modern Art. A disgrace. A disaster.
No desire to go to any museum. If the old magnificent Museum of Modern Art was reconstituted I would, but no desire to return to the Magritte or Fin-de-Siecle. How I loved the old Museum of Modern Art; in one place Alfred Stevens’ Salome, Le Genie du Mal, La Figure Tombale, Death of Marat, Tresors de Satan, Magritte’s La Goulue and Lola de Valence, the room FULL of Paul Delvauxs. It was a special place; destroyed, broken up, most of the pieces I mention now locked away in storage with no place to show them. Fuck the Magritte Museum—a little Magritte goes a long way with me. A museum full of them is way too much. Milking the Magritte cow for all its worth they have killed the goose that lay the golden egg, to mix my metaphors. Ah fantastic (talking of milking cows), I just saw Beatrice and two friends crossing the road under my hotel window and walking towards her place! I see a lot of the street girls passing through this little alleyway and past the Plaza to their spit; maybe they all live together just to the east of the Rue Neuve?
Just thinking about taking my love to the Neue Pinakothek and showing her Die Sünde, and incredibly there are tears in my eyes as I think about showing her THAT picture. How can a PAINTING bring tears to your eyes, have this much of an effect on you? I saw it first at a particular time in my life, and it knocked me for six. I just literally wiped a tear off my cheek.
That last Tuesday night in Brussels before my early Eurostar home—is there any way I can avoid staying in a hotel that night??? Realistically no! The melancholy moment. Sex, alcohol and gambling. On my first few visits to Europe, grand tours, it meant something to get to Venice, or to get to Neuschwanstein, or to go to The Third Man sites, pilgrimages, but now I just go for the sex, alcohol and gambling (I don’t gamble actually, but I see it as spending a lot of money and seeing if you are going to have a good time tonight or not, that is the gamble). True last year I found it incredibly moving to visit for the first time the Night Porter hotel building and the cafe opposite, and then to visit the site, knocked down and wiped out, of Milena’s apartment in Bad Timing. So I do still make some pilgrimages it seems. I wonder what ones are left that would move me like that? It always means a lot to see Richard Gerstl’s Laughing Self Portrait in the Belvedere, Vienna (the treasure of that museum, not Klimt’s The Kiss), and to see Die Sunde in Munich’s New Pinakothek. Anything new? One day I will have to get to the Brocken Mountain, and the Reichenbach Falls, but I don’t want to get there enough otherwise I would be doing so. In Brussels my lodestones are Tresors de Satan and La Figure Tombale now stranded in the awful Fin de Siecle Museum (where are the Delvauxs, the Dali, the Genie du Mal, Alfred Stevens Salome, all in storage, disgracefully, as they don’t fit in to the FDS or Magritte Museums which have swallowed up the space of the old all inclusive Museum of Modern Art which ceased to exist). I have applied for a 46 euro room in the Galaxy Hotel, very cheap and far from cheerful by the looks of it. It’s just for my last night stopover so a bed is all I really need.
There is the incredible situation in Brussels now where the Brussels City Government want to build a brand new space for their superb collection of modern art (modern in this sense meaning roughly 1789 to 1939) but the Belgian Government which officially owns the art says no way, it must go back in the old building where it always was. Brussels had a wonderful Museum of Modern Art, containing its entire collection from those 1789 to 1939 years, but then they decided to break the space up into two new Museums, the Magritte Museum containing nothing but Magrittes and the Fin De Siecle Museum containing nothing but art from the 1890s, and everything that did not fit into these two narrow bands disappeared back into storage never it seemed to be seen again! Some of my absolutely favourite pieces, David’s Death of Marat, Geef’s Genie du Mal, Dali’s Temptation of St Anthony, the entire room of Paul Delvaux’s, all therefore vanished. They have been planning to open another Museum, the Modern Museum, to put back on display everything pushed out by the Magritte and the FDS but that meant finding a brand new space for it: for a while they were going to put it in a building by the Grand Place, now they say they are buying the old Art Deco Citroen showrooms by the canal (opposite Fifth Avenue hooker bar, an interesting idea); but the Belgian government has said no, over their dead body, they will not countenance the sublime modern art collection going on display anywhere except in its original location, under the same roof as the Magritte and FDS, and Old Masters. So essentially Belgium wants their entire collection of modern art, Magrittes and 1890s included, all in one building—why, just like the original Museum of Modern Art! Why on earth they destroyed and split up the original Museum of Modern Art I will never know. It was a desecration. And now the Belgian Government is insisting it all goes back under one roof again. Well there is no space for any new rooms, so does this mean the Magrittes, 1890s and everything else is going to have to be mixed again? We are STILL waiting to find out. And meanwhile all those incredible treasures from 1789 to 1939 remain in storage and we are left with the desperately boring, samey, Magritte after Magritte after Magritte (a little Magritte goes an awfully long way with me; too much of him becomes boring incredibly quickly) and the scandalously awful anaemic, appallingly lit Fin de Siecle display (how on earth they can make the Fin de Siecle seem boring is quite a wonder in itself). Give us back our original Museum of Modern Art please, with the 6 or 7 Magrittes that it always had, yes, with its wonderful 1890s treasures, yes, but all mixed into the one collection that it used to be. You had a wonderful Museum of Modern Art about 5 years ago; why on earth did you fuck it up?