Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The One Where I Drone On and On about Art

Do you like art?

That might seem like a simple yes or no question, but I don't think it really is.

I don't believe anybody views a work of art and feels anger, hatred, contempt or loathing, unless of course, the piece was meant to inspire such. I can't imagine that anyone looks upon a tranquil pastoral scene, a graceful nude, or a skillfully done portrait with active dislike. But I do think there are those who do so with apathy.

So while I don't think that art is the kind of thing that naturally inspires antipathy, I do think there are people who are thoroughly unmoved by it.

And then there are those for whom art inspires a passionate love, an intense longing, and a fervent joy.

I love art. I love everything about it. The history. The intrigue. The personal tragedies and triumphs behind great masterpieces. The color. The technique. The richness and the majesty. The raw emotion that can be infused into a into a single brushstroke, slab of marble, or lump of clay. I admire the skill and the perserverence and the passion of those who have wrought great works of art. I wonder about their lives, their loves, their dreams and sorrows. Art speaks to me on a very visceral level. It moves me in ways I am at a loss to explain.

It's should come as no surprise then, that one of my favorite places on earth is the Louvre. I always dreamed of going there, never really daring to hope that it would come to fruition. But to my surprise and elation, my husband-to-be booked a honeymoon in Europe as a gift to me, four days of which would be spent in Paris. I was absolutely beside myself.

We started in London, and it surpassed my expectations in every way. We had the time of our lives. And yet, I couldn't wait to get to France. The Louvre was calling to me. And when at last we stood in front of the beautiful and expansive building, I was nearly speechless. And I trembled as we entered and descended on an incongruously modern conveyance to the galleries.

There is simply no way that one can see all there is to see in the Louvre in one day. Faced with more than we could possibly ever see, we had to pick and choose. And it was pure agony to bypass endless halls and cavernous rooms, knowing that treasures beyond my imagining lay within. I saw the Mona Lisa. It was anticlimactic. Somehow, I never expected it to be so small and I certainly didn't expect it to be encased in six inches of bullet proof plexiglass. His sketches though...those were breathtaking.

David was a visual feast. The Birth of Venus moved me to tears. Ophelia was transcendant. The Waterlillies defied description. There were so many that I saw that day, all beautiful and amazing and just...surreal. It was, in every way, a life changing experience for me. I long to go back and I hope that someday, I can bring my children to stand before the treasures that so captivated and moved me.

When my sister suggested that we drive to the Art Museum in Chicago on my trip home to Wisconsin, I agreed instantly. My husband expressed doubt that I would actually want to make the four hour drive when it came right down to it. After all, we had just spent 15 hours in the car. Silly man.

Our honeymoon was 13 years ago and I had forgotten just how awe inspiring it can be to stand before a work of art. I had forgotten the thrill of knowing that one is standing before a great masterpiece, one which will exist long after I have died, and whose creator will be known to generations far into the future.

I had forgotten how much paint Van Gogh (our high school French teacher insisted that we pronounce his name Van Gug) used. Whorls and swirls and piles of color so rich and inviting, that one is compelled to touch it. And indeed, my hand, of it's own accord, stretched toward the canvas, only to be stopped short by a subtle, but effective ding-dong. Thwarted, I could only look. But I felt strangely dissatisfied. I felt an overwhelming need to touch those tantalizing peaks.

Obviously, Van Gogh did not disappoint, and either did Renoir, Pissaro, Monet, Manet, Degas and the countless others that I saw; all artists that one exepects to be magnificent.

Seurat, though...he surprised me.

Seurat has never been one of my favorites, and pointillisme is not a movement that I have ever really been able to appreciate. But then, I had never seen La Grande Jatte. I knew of it, of course. It's a well known work of art, and the story behind of its creation is interesting and intriguing. As we entered the gallery where it was housed, I shivered in anticipation. And when it came into view, my flesh pimpled and a thrill raced through me. It was so large...I hadn't expected that.

Standing before his visual manifesto, I was undeniably impressed. The sheer effort alone inspires admiration. It really is comprised of millions of little dots of color, dancing together and on top of one another to create light and shadow and form and feeling. The figures were strangely amorphous, and yet dinstinctly solid. The colors were indescribably soft, yet unbelievably bold.

It was absolutely magnificent.

These are the little surprises that make art so compelling for me. The little mysteries, the little nuances...they make me feel like I belong to something bigger than myself.

If someone founded a religion based on art...I would be the most fervent and steadfast acolyte. I could go to my grave with peace in my heart, knowing that art will always be there to inspire, to lead, to move, to impassion.

Yeah. I could believe in that.


  • At 6:37 PM, Blogger ewe are here said…

    Did you visit the Musée d'Orsay while you were in Paris? That and the Musée Rodin were two of my Paris favorites. ;-)

    Oh, and I was also disappointed, but not really surprised to be, with the Mona Lisa.

  • At 8:18 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Ewe, No I didn't! We had so little time that I really had to be choosy. It was so difficult! I also had to forego Versaille (too far outside the city) and Giverny (ditto) because we just didn't have the time. I did get to Notre Dame and Sacre Couer, the Louvre, The Tour Eiffal, L'arc de Triumph and of course, shopping on the Champs Elysees.

    Husband and I both agree that next time, we will not divide our time between two cities. There is just to much to see and do.

    Musee d'Orsay is definitely on my list for next time. :?)

  • At 12:10 AM, Blogger luckyzmom said…

    And England. The museums and art there could make one hyperventilate!

    But, it is true what you say about some people not being moved by art.

    And I truly enjoyed your hearing about your trip. Thanx for sharing.

  • At 1:55 PM, Blogger Foofa said…

    I work three blocks from the Art Institute in Chicago and haven't been in over a year. I am ashamed. It truly is a wonderful place. I love art also and thought your post was beautiful.

  • At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love museums and I love art! Like you, I'm surprised at which works move me when seen in person. I have a strong reaction to Degas...don't know why!

  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger Amie Adams said…

    You've caused me to do some thinking about this...can you hear the creaking?

    I love art too. My mom is an artist, I grew up visiting an artist's community every summer. Despite this, I don't know if I'm ever moved as emotionally as I am by say music. And I never really thought about that until reading your post.

    I am in awe of art and what went into rendering it. I too love to imagine the lives of the people behind it, but can it make me cry? Can it make me remember a single moment 20 years ago? But music can. And frankly, I don't think of myself as much of a music appreciator.

    Very though provoking. Thanks so much!!

    Did you go to Westminster? I could have walked through that cathedral for days. I also completely agree re: the Louvre. Would you love to be able to just spend a month wandering around?

  • At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Natalie: GAH! Three blocks! I would die. You should get a membership. I think spending the money makes people more conscientious about going. I would love to be close enough to use one!

    Mamma: I think music *is* art. If it moves you, then fill your life with it and don't feel badly that you aren't moved by a visual medium.

    Yes, we went to Westminster. It was an incredible experience! We got some beautiful grave rubbings that are tucked away until I can afford to have them framed in a manner befitting their beauty.

  • At 9:58 AM, Blogger Namito said… much for me to write about here, but I will say that I share your passion, and I shared your anticlimactic moment in the Louvre as well. Maybe she's laughing at all the people ignoring the other magnificent paintings in that room to crowd around the bulletproof glass.

    One cynical point. People absolutely do respond to art in ways we (the artists) don't expect them to.

    Which is why art has literally been blown off the face of the earth by religious extremists.

    But to end in the spirit with which your post was written, There is a self-portrait by Rembrandt (1660) in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. And every time I visit, I spend about an hour talking with him, and wondering, and eventually after looking into those eternal eyes and that slightly sardonic corner of his mouth, I always cry.

  • At 12:43 PM, Blogger Her Bad Mother said…

    DITTO. You expressed this so well, so perfectly. It's an almost inexpressible passion, love of art, isn't it? A swelling in the chest, a tightness around the heart, the almost overwhelming desire to consume the art, suck it up, make it your own.

    I can totally understand why some people obsessively spend vast fortunes on collecting it. For me, visits to the museums will have to do.

  • At 1:37 PM, Blogger Bimbo said…

    Beautifully written.


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