Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Little Bit More About Art

This was going to be a response to some of the comments about my "Bilboa" post, but I started getting wordy, and figured it´d be better to make it a post on its own.

Molly -
What amazes me is how unpredictable reactions to art can be. We all experienced "appreciating" art, or expecting to like something and find that, yes, as predicted, you did like it. But I´m always interested in when something completely overwhelms you, completely overrides your intellectual faculties, and makes you feel giddy and joyous, or, depending on the work, inexplicably sad and full of sorrow.

Peter Greenaway, a filmmaker who´s work I like a great deal, once said that you don´t have emotional reactions to a painting. Well, I do. Not every painting, but there are some that move me beyond rational explanation. There´s a painting by Van Gogh in the Metropolitan that shows a small child running to greet her father, who has kneeled down with his arms outstretched, ready to swoop her up. The painting is such a primal domestic scene, charming and warm without being sentimental, that it makes me want to cry. (This reaction might also be due to the fact that I know how unhappy Van Gogh´s life was. That a man who suffered so much could create such a vision of pure, simple happiness also makes me want to cry).

That´s something else that amazes me: the realization that someone made this. Someone used their hands, and some paint, and made something where previously there was a blank canvas. That´s part of my reaction to Bosch´s work. A person made those. Granted, a visionary with a wicked sense of humor and remarkable drafting and compositional skills, but still, he was just a person. People made the pyramids too, but that was lots of people. "Temptation of St. Anthony" was made by just one guy.

I knew I would like the Bilboa museum. I had seen photos and video of the museum before. I just wasn´t ready for the, what, ravishment(?) that I felt on seeing it. I didn´t even get to go inside, Stacey and Andrea, because the museum is closed on Mondays, and that was the only day I could work it into my schedule. But I didn´t care. For the record, Jeff Koons´ giant topiary puppy is in front of the museum, almost like he´s guarding it, and Louise Bougouis spider ("Mama") is behind the museum. I had seen both before, but it was great seeing them again in this context.

Mom, we´ll see what I think of David.

2 comments:

Miss Stambaugh said...

I guess I hoped or thought you'd have time to go back and go inside. I've been waiting for part two. Oh well, sounds like just seeing the building did the trick and the Koons' puppy is his best piece.

Erin said...

Hey John,
Sorry I'm posing this late, I've been trying to catch up now that mid-terms are over.

You said: "Peter Greenaway, a filmmaker who´s work I like a great deal, once said that you don´t have emotional reactions to a painting. Well, I do. Not every painting, but there are some that move me beyond rational explanation."

I'm with you. How do you look at a piece of art w/o having an emotional reaction? If I were traveling through Europe for a couple of months I'd be doing the same thing you're doing. Not so much visiting red-light districts, but going to museums.

Okay, I have more to read, I just I'd post and say hi.

Love,
Erin