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Picasso under glass

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KAI RYSSDAL: Ordinarily if you want to see a fine work of art you’d have to go to the nearest museum. Commentator Sandra Tsing Loh found a happy compromise. But as she tells us in this edition of The Loh Down, now she’s caught up in the age-old struggle against buyer’s remorse.

SANDRA Tsing Loh: True confession: The other week, I had a couple of glasses of wine too many and did something I was shocked by in the morning. At a silent auction, I bought a Picasso.

For perspective, understand that I am generally considered to be the world’s cheapest person. I am the only wife whose husband has actually said to her: “Please, I beg you to go to the mall and buy new clothes.”

Recently, I got my hair cut for the first time in four years. And I mean professionally cut. Not like when my 2-year-old put her electric train in my hair and the wheels were literally grinding into my scalp — huh-nuh-nuh, huh-nuh-nuh, huh-nuh-nuh — and my husband had to cut the train out. No, no, no. This was actually in a salon.

I should also note, up front, that I paid just $1,350 for the Picasso as it is actually a lithograph. On the one hand, I couldn’t believe you could buy a Picasso for under $75 million. On the other hand, even its cheapness makes me anxious.

I mean, what is a lithograph but a fancy word for reproduction. I’m half afraid I’ll turn around and find this Picasso at Target.

Upon getting it home, to take nothing away from the Spanish master, what makes the piece of art stand out from the wall, what gives it a throbbing, almost electric aura, is less the drawing itself than the actual glass over the drawing. The plate glass! It is so unsmeared with jelly, so pristine, so shiny, it actually reflects.

And I realize how long a time it’s been since I’ve seen really clean glass. Rather like the astigmatism of Van Gogh, my world does not look like the world of others. No, my landscapes are seen through a haze of dirty car windows, Vaseline-smeared mirrors, even my filthy sunglasses!

And I turn, in slow motion, and looked at the smudged walls and family junk of our house, and I realize with a sinking feeling that you can put the Picasso in Van Nuys, but you cannot take the Van Nuys out of us.

In short, now we have to remodel! Oh well, as I can see in the glass, I still have a pretty good haircut — until 2011.

Ryssdal: Sandra Tsing Loh lives and shops right here in Los Angeles.

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