Friday, August 13, 2010
About the Rewards of Art
The question came up for me yesterday when I saw this at Alyson Stanfield’s web site: Matisse said art should be “something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue.” I find that respite in some paintings, an oasis of serenity to sink into. Monet and Bonnard come to mind. Sometimes a painted work brings a smile, not of humor perceived, but rather of pleasure felt. I think Howard Hodgkins or Sean Scully, both makers of beautiful paintings. Some works are disturbing and bring pain as do Picasso’s Guernica and Goya’s Tres de Mayo. Richard Diebenkorn provides the thrill of seeing what a sharp intelligence can do to turn paint and canvas into an object of splendor. The greatest reward for me is an immediate feeling of recognition, as in: “Ah, yes, I know”. That is the moment that the artist and I have met.
I like to visit museums alone. I need to keep the dialogue between my self and the artist. I have a dear friend who knows far more about art and art history than I can hold in my brain and who often accompanies me to museums. I am happiest when he refrains from explaining symbolisms and references. What care I if the message I get was not intended? It is for myself that I visit the art, not for the artist.