Whenever you find yourself in a foreign country, it is the things that are completely normal (so normal as to be invisible) to the natives that are, to you, the hallmarks of Wonderland. I’ve walked through the streets of this tiny Burgundy town for 13 years now, and I’ve never grown tired of staring at the rooftops. Their irregular and unpredictable angles. The way they stack up against the sky like the elements of a cubist painting. The lean of things that once were plumb (or maybe never were).
This is not America. This is not what I grew up with. And so, surrounded by this, I feel as if I’ve been transposed molecule by molecule into a fairy tale. And yet, it is completely real. Here, under these roofs, children grow up and grow frustrated. People age and die. The news, piped in from around the globe, is watched with horror and indifference just as it is viewed elsewhere. Class divisions persist. The grand live in grand houses. The poor in poor ones. And yet to me—despite those inequities—it all adds up to something magical. I feel at home here in this stone, mortar and tile fairy tale.
Rooftops and skies have inspired artists forever. Cezanne painted them. Camille Pissarro too. Thomas Hart Benton. And, in 1999, my friend and artist Peter Wegner, created this amazing series of photographs: “Buildings Made of Sky.” His subject matter is meticulously shot, reproduced and presented. It is art. This blog is not. But I can’t help but feel akin to him in this endeavor. His eye was seduced by New York. Mine by the opposite. And yet both were trying to share stories of geometry, shape, and negative space.