|detail Claude Monet, Waterlilies, at the Metropolitian Museum of Art|
When was the last time you went to an art museum? Is it something you regularly do? For most people going to an art museum is a box they tick when going on vacation to a big city. They drag their partner and/or children to the MOMA and walk around for hours browsing multi-million dollar works of art and say to themselves “my child could paint that”.
When I was in undergraduate school studying art history, one of my professors said that the average person spends 5 seconds looking at a painting. It was unbelievable to me until one day I realized that I, myself, was doing it. I spent hours of walking around the Louvre, then got burned out looking at painting after painting and after a while I did not see what I was looking at, I just rushed through the galleries so I could say I was there (cardinal sin for an art historian, I know).
It’s easy to appreciate an ancient Greek sculpture, like the Venus de Milo, as even by today’s measures a significant amount of skill was required to carve it just so; not to mention its 2,000 years old. That is impressive to most people. But what about Contemporary Art? What about abstract painting? What about that mammoth piece of steel winding through the city park? What about everything in between? How can you possibly expect to understand it if you only take 5 seconds to look?
|3 above, ancient Greek sculptures at the Metropolitian Museum of Art|
If you want to dig deeper and really know a culture, a history, a time, a place, a person, a people, than you need to firstly look at a work of art for more than 5 seconds. The process of looking at art and then interpreting it isn’t a lofty academic activity only for the special few. It is something that everyone can understand and relate to.
I would like to introduce you to art and art history in a way that is digestible and stimulating. My worst nightmare is someone going into an art museum and saying that it is boring, then disregard it. There is a lot more to it than a 5 second glance. Wouldn’t you like to know what you are looking at? Wouldn’t it be nice to connect with the art next time you are walking through a gallery? What if it tells you something about the history of the city and its cultural identity? As a high heeled traveler with a wanderlusty soul, don’t you want to become part of the social thread of your destination? This is possible through art. It is emotionally and mentally and sometimes physically possible to connect with the historical thread of humanity through art.
I hope this series enables you to gain a bit of context and insight into the history of art in order to better understand any work of art you stand in front of. I am especially talking about Contemporary Art which is baffling sometimes to even the academics. We will take baby steps. Each post will feature a new work of art and a brief discussion on how to look at it and what to take away from the gallery. In addition, I will talk about the art market and the roles of museum, dealer, and auction house. Perhaps the next time you are on vacation and tick off that art museum box you will be able to say that you appreciate what insight it offers to humanity and it will enrich your travels.
|Henri Toulouse Lautrec, Metropolitian Museum of Art|
|At Storm King Art Center|