Friday, December 24, 2010

Time Out

You now possess all the tools necessary to uncover the art in art.

Mastery takes practice, practice, and more practice.

During late December and through January, I suggest you visit at least one museum.  Bring someone with you.  Do not accept the offered headphones. 

Try this instead: go through one of the exhibits I list in this post.  Go through it quickly. Briefly look at all the work exhibited.  Take notes.  Jot down your reaction, if you have one, to any of the pictures in the exhibit.  Don’t obsess over this.  Here is a possible set of notes:

1.     I hate it.
2.     I love it.
3.     YIKES! What is that about?

Include next to each entry the title and/or the number of the picture so you can find it again.

After you have visited the entire exhibit, select from your notes one or two pictures you really want to get to know.  You may have hated or loved the picture.  That does not matter.  Your goal is to get to know why you hated it or why you loved it.  You want to know what, in the picture, elicited that reaction. 

Then return to each of them, use the tools you have learned, and look at each of them carefully.  This will take some time and a lot of effort.  If you have brought a companion with you, explain to him/her what you see.  Involve him/her in the process.  Again, take notes.

After scrutinizing at least two works, and if you still have time and energy, return to some of the other pictures you listed in your initial “tour.”

If you feel exhausted and satisfied, leave and get something to eat.  If the exhibit intrigued you and you want to experience more of it, plan to go back.

In other words, trust your perceptions and work with your feelings as you move toward the aesthetic goal post: the delicious satisfaction attached to understanding the visual meaning in a work of art. 

Here is a short list of exhibits closing soon in the mid-Atlantic area.  Any one of them will provide excellent practice. 

If you visit an exhibit and you wish to share your experience, please do so by writing a comment here.  Ask any questions your exploration aroused.  I’d love to know your reactions.

I have already visited a few of these exhibits, and I intend to go to a few more in the next several weeks.  I also will be traveling to Nice in mid-January and visiting: the Musée Matisse in Cimiez; the Musée du Message Biblique Marc-Chagall; the Musée Picasso, Antibes; the Musée Renoir (formerly Les Collettes, Renoir’s home for the last 12 years of his life); the Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence (its black-on-white tile drawings, stained glass windows, chasubles and alter designed by Matisse); and as many others as I can get to in a week.

I should be ready to add new posts by early February.  These posts will fine-tune the concepts I have already explained and give you more practice in using the tools of discovery.

Washington, DC

National Gallery of Art

Arcimboldo, 1526-1593: Nature and Fantasy

September 19, 2010-January 9, 2011

From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection

January 31, 2010-January 9, 2011

Phillips Collection

Side by Side: Oberlin’s Masterworks at the Phillips

September 11, 2010-January 16, 2011
This one deserves some explanation.  The exhibition showcases an unconventional hallmark of The Phillips Collection, the mixing of works of different periods and nationalities in changing installations to reveal new affinities between works of art. This approach reflects the views of museum founder, Duncan Phillips (1886–1966), who saw the history of art as a conversation through the ages among artists and works of art. In his collection of contemporary art, Phillips included several old masters, including Giorgione, El Greco, and Goya, and an early wish list included the names of others.
Going to the heart of Phillips’s claim, among Side by Side’s loosely themed groupings is one that brings together artists who copied paintings by their predecessors in the Louvre. The Allen’s Rubens appears with Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880–81) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who is known to have copied works by Rubens. In the second half of his career, after abandoning impressionism, Renoir again looked to Rubens for inspiration. Related works in this section of the exhibition are from the Phillips, by Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, and Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix.

New York City

Museum of Modern Art

Abstract Expressionist New York

October 3, 2010-April 25, 2011

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart’s Renaissance

October 6, 2010-January 17, 2011

Miró: The Dutch Interiors

October 5, 2010-January 17, 2011

Cézanne’s Card Players

February 9, 2011-May 8, 2011

The Frick Collection

The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya

October 5, 2010-January 9, 2011

The King at War: Velázquez’s Portrait of Philip IV

October 26, 2010-Janauary 9, 2011


Baltimore Museum of Art

Andy Warhol: The Last Decade

October 17, 2010-January 9, 2011

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