I recently read an article in the New York Times about how few tourists really look at art work in museums. Rather, they rush through them, snapping away at the famous paintings almost as evidence that they'd "been there, done that." Linked with the article was a shorter post which posed the question "What Do You Look for When You Look at Art?" Both articles really got me thinking about why I love art so much and why I've chosen art to focus on Thursday after Thursday.
Despite being required to take various art classes in high school, I can safely say that my love for art didn't really take shape until my junior year in college when I was studying abroad in Spain. A few days after I was placed with my host family, my host sister took me to see an exhibition by Caravaggio at Museo del Prado. I still remember being completely floored by the power of his work and till this day I can easily count Judith Beheading Holofernes as one of my favorite paintings based on that first visit. Little did I know at the time that I would be spending at least one day a week at that very museum for months or that my entire year in Spain would include paying detailed attention not only to paintings, but to architecture, sculpture and various forms of art.
Unlike my art history course in high school, art history in Spain involved one class session learning the history followed by the second class in the museum seeing the details or specific paintings up close and personal. When I wasn't in the classroom studying art, I was on school trips all over the country where either the study abroad coordinator and local historical guide would tell you everything there was to know not only about the town, but every key piece of art in that town. Sometimes I have to remind myself of how lucky I was to have such a wealth of people highlighting all the various things that influenced an artist, their environment, the political and historical landscape of their country, the resources available - everything poured into their chosen medium.
Fast forward years and years later and I can still remember so many experiences when I have fallen in love with a painting or artist or style of painting. I remember standing for close to an hour in the light dizzy of a London rain to see an exhibit; slowly absorbing paintings by Picasso and Matisse at the Matisse Picasso Exhibit at the MoMa; seeing the influence and sarcasm of Velaquez on Picasso at the Guggeheim; staring forever at a single sculpture in National Museum of Art in Maputo; or dashing through the Louvre to see one painting: Christ on the Cross Adorned by Donors.
Recently, my appreciation for art has climbed to new heights simply by me taking art classes again. I have come to fully realize that no matter what medium their specialize in, for many artists, their work is an extention of themselves and an expression of their lives and desires. Like most things in life, they have had to work diligently year after year and had to face more than their fair share of haters.
So now you understand a little bit more about why showcasing art on my blog been so easy and enjoyable to me....