Sunday, April 12, 2020

So What ?!

So what?! Your local museum has closed, the Louvre is closed; you cannot travel anyway and you can find any work of art you are looking for online.  What is the difference, does it matter?

I have given a lot of thought to that question recently and have come up with a few answers.  Please let me know what you come up with.  On the most basic level the museum was a place to go to relax, contemplate and pray for a transcendent experience in front of a work of art.

For many years we collected photography, these were works of art and quite different from just making a print off of the computer.  Why?  Because, as anyone who has worked in a dark room or learned the history of photography knows, there are many methods of printing on many different kinds of photo paper.  Printing is an interpretation of an image and one even can tell a heavier or lighter hand.

In my case, I did not fall in love with Ansel Adams original concept of “Moon Rise, Hernandez, New Mexico” but his later version which he printed with stark contrast when the image became so popular and this was easier than doing the dodging under the enlarger that was necessary for the original. Only through seeing original prints done by Adams in an exhibition at the Andrew Smith gallery when he was in Santa Fe did I come to appreciate his changing perspective on his original vision.  Here is an image of Adams and the image as it came out of the camera and a later print.

Anyone, lucky enough to have been to the Frick Collection in New York City probably remembers not only the art, but also the center court with its large skylight and beautiful fountain where you can sit on one of the benches surrounding the pool and just chill out. My wife tells me she learned to love the Frick in high school when she went, not just to look at paintings, but to do homework in the peaceful surrounding of the court.

Why does the original matter?  Would you be shocked if I said it does not 100% of the time and I am thinking the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa.  If you can only see a very small painting behind bulletproof glass, with hundreds of other people trying to get as close as possible to photograph it, it is impossible to commune with the Leonardo’s work.  If you were able to be with the picture, without the crowd, it would be a whole different experience.

If you turn a corner and are confronted by Rembrandt’s portrait of his son Titus at the Wallace Collection in London, I guarantee a different experience altogether, perhaps the right expression is, awe-inspiring.

If you are lucky enough to have a significant other with whom to share a transcendental experience in front of the same painting that is rare but oh, how rewarding.  This is true for me, at least. 

Since we all need to look forward to something when the current global nightmare is over, enjoying works of art in the original is one of the best.

PS:  Last week I started something new with my Missives, adding a comment I received to the end, when appropriate.  My cousin from St. Louis responded to the Ogden Nash poem I posted last week with another one that is the perfect retort:

 A mighty creature is the germ, 
Though smaller than the pachyderm. 
His customary dwelling place 
Is deep within the human race. 
His childish pride he often pleases 
By giving people strange diseases. 
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm? 
You probably contain a germ.

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