Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why Museums?

Why look at art? What's the point? Well, here are a few reasons...

-We live in a highly visual world. We are bombarded with imagery. In many instances, the imagery isn't positive. Art forces us to understand how images communicate, and how they affect us in a positive or negative way. Observing the visual communication in art, makes us have better discernment in the greater arena of imagery.

-Art, like literature, causes us to make connections from a work to our own lives. It allows us to feel empathy for others. It is why looking at Starry Night can make us weep for Van Gogh. 

-Taking time out in our busy, crazy, driven world, to stop and concentrate on art, makes us present. It encourages mindfulness and awareness. If we sit and study a work, it causes us to notice detail.

-Art often tells stories. If we take the time to observe a piece of art, it can reveal another world. It can also take us back in time through history. Picasso's Guernica is an example of witnessing the heartache and horror of the Spanish Civil War.

-Art is the currency of culture, along with music. It is our reason for being. It is the first thing that we save when under attack, because it tells who we are. A case in point is the French people hiding their art work during the invasion of Paris by Germany during World War II. Conversely, it is the reason that Hitler destroyed so much "degenerate art". He was systematically destroying culture.

-Studying visually, gives us heightened awareness and better concentration. Our world is full of distractions. Taking a minute to set down the phone, and to look at art for a prolonged period allows us to focus.

-Looking at art in a museum, forces us to notice the art that is actually all around us. We are surrounded by typography, architecture, murals, public sculpture, and many other forms of art, that we sometimes don't observe.

-Art is effort. As an artist, I understand the tremendous effort that goes into making work. It is a lifelong profession. It requires devotion and practice to perfect a craft or skill.

-Art makes us human. It links people across cultures. When I travel, I understand a culture better, by seeing their art and by hearing their music.

So, why should kids be exposed to viewing art? Well, the reasons for kids, are exactly the same as the reasons that I previously mentioned. But, I will add one more. Many kids love to draw and to make art. It is a natural thing for them. As they get older, many give up on creating art. Those who don't, are often made to feel different, because they haven't given up on it. So, attending a museum is validation for them. They realize that the world is full of people like them, people who like to create. 

These photos are pieces that I have seen in museums, that have floored me. What I mean is, that I was not expecting their power and presence. The Manet painting, in the National Gallery, practically screamed from the wall. It took over the entire room. No other paintings could compete with the drama of the composition. At one point in my life, I was very sad. I would visit the Rodin sculpture garden at night. The photo shows a figure that is carrying a huge burden, but carries it with grace and beauty. Seeing it lit up at night was an inspiration. I saw the Brancusi sculpture when I visited my sister in New York City, when I was in high school. I still remember turning the corner of a hallway, and walking into a room with this sculpture. Again, it dominated the room. The texture was heavenly. And, I loved the contrast between the polished "fish" and the cement base. Genius. Gris is a master of cubist form. But, beyond that, his ideas about color were revolutionary. He understood composition so well.

So, take joy in art. In viewing it, in trying to understand it, and in making it.


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