(Or Microbes and Matisse)
Genevieve Habert stared at the abstract paper cutout with a sense of unease. Something was off about Henri Matisse’s Le Bateau (1953). Habert, a New York stockbroker and former Parisienne, was an admirer of the late French artist. Along with thousands of art fans and critics, Habert had visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) to view an exhibition featuring the final pieces of Matisse (1869-1954). Le Bateau portrayed a solitary boat and its reflection gliding over violet waters. But something wasn’t quite right…
Have you spotted the reason?
….Why would the artist portray the reflection as more intricate than the actual boat? Habert puzzled over the piece and arrived at a startling conclusion. The MOMA had inadvertently hung Le Bateau upside-down. Although Habert’s assertion was initially dismissed by MOMA staff, she persisted in her claim and obtained evidence that the work was hanging the wrong direction. The NY Times ran an article about Le Bateau and 47 days after Le Bateau’s debut, the MOMA turned the painting right-side up.*
I’m a fan of art museums and enjoyed researching the history of Le Bateau and Genevieve Habert. When reading the story, I was struck by the analogies linking Le Bateau with the development and concept of gut microbiota-brain interactions. (HINT: sometimes we realize that while we’ve focused on the top we should take a second look at what is on [or in] the bottom!) This past year, our lab outlined several key hallmarks of the gut microbiota-brain axis.** Over the next two months, Skope articles will examine these hallmarks and the recent science stories that reflect these gut-brain interactions.
Stayed tuned for next week’s article on microglia.
Sources and Further Reading: