Cupid and Psyche: A moment of “volupté”

I have always believed that art is another aspect of humanity that makes life worth appreciating a little bit more. Art endures in a contemporary society that at times seems so bleak and backwards. Art is what brings color, dimension and meaning to our lives and shows us that we are not so entirely different from each other. Art saves people.

That is, if you let yourself become vulnerable to it and not be afraid of what art might make you feel. Sometimes letting yourself be moved by something artistic can be unnerving, because it could disgust you, make you sad, or make you feel so wonderful that you don’t know what to do with yourself and you end up feeling lost in your own inspiration. Baudelaire would describe volupté as a moment of overpowering wonder that can overcome a person when they view art that moves them. I experienced this feeling when I came across the statue of Cupid and Psyche at the Lourvre museum.

Mythical characters from Apuleius’ Metamorphoses Cupid and Psyche become statues intertwined in an embrace in this 1757 sculpture by Antonio Canova. The statue is captioned, “Psyché ranimée par le basier de l’Amour,” or “Psyche revived by Cupid’s kiss.”

The naked, vulnerable figures are adorned with light cloth that hangs from the curves of their bodies, and they stare at each other with an affection that is ancient and enduring.


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