May 11th, 2011
|08:19 am - Class A|
An article in the Guardian about how looking at art induces ecstasy. This is definitely true. I posted one time on this journal (can't find it now) about going to the National Gallery and looking at that very painting they use to illustrate the piece - Bacchus and Ariadne, by Titian. It is quite as pleasurable as hard drugs.
Oh yes. Definitely agree with that. Looking at art. Listening to art. Walking through art. Not all art, of course. :-)
A couple of quotes I liked from the article:
I think the pleasure of paintings is vastly enhanced or damaged by what you know or think you know, and how you look at them. But I also know that a couple of hours in a museum of great art can be intoxicating and ecstatic beyond belief.
I believe anyone can get this pleasure, if there is social space for it, if it's presented to them as a possibility.
The free museums and galleries of Britain are temples of happiness, founts of joy. Do yourself a favour and spend time in them. The feeling will hit you after a while and it is unbeatable.
Yes. Also cheap and doesn't make your teeth fall out.
We are /so/ lucky to have so many free museums/galleries. I remember once having a go at a tourist in a public loo in London, who was whinging about having to pay 50p to go to the loo. I asked her how much she and her family had paid to go to the British Museum and the National Gallery (they had a bunch of bags with them).
This appears to be the theme of my last twenty-four hours, as yesterday I was listening to a paper on the concept of the museum as temple vs the museum as forum (conclusion: it's both of these and much more, circus, zoo, passing point, meeting place), and last night, I re-watched Vincent and the Doctor
, which is a love letter to the power of and desire for art.
At the presentation of the paper, someone mentioned that there is to be a da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery, and it has been announced that tickets are to be strictly limited as is the time that anyone may spend looking at a specific painting. This made a lot of people in the room very cross, particularly this quote
'"It is very important that people study our website before they come to the exhibition. They can download all the information that people stand and read beforehand. The whole experience can be properly prepared for."'
This prompted questions as to whether they are going to set a test on entrance so that visitors can prove they are indeed properly prepared for. The person presenting the paper had mentioned an article in the Penny Magazine, which contained a list of exhortations for visitors (of the lower classes) and rules for their appropriate conduct ('Be not obtrusive') so they knew how to do visting a museum properly.
These seem to be sadly somewhat at odds with Jones' views, that we should be able to determine our own level of medication/stimulation with regards to art.Edited for messing up the HTML.Edited at 2011-05-11 08:09 am (UTC)
Absolutely. I think it is a shame if people stand in exhibitions looking at the notes in the brochure, not the pictures. It's like how people look at beautiful landscapes through a camera.
I think that the gallery could manage that issue - but not by saying 'do your required reading in advance'. They should say rather - read or don't read as you like, but use your time in front of the pictures looking at the pictures.
The problem I have with that is that often the way into the picture, for me, is through the text and that act of reading, which can be simulataneous with the looking, either because I'm listening to an audio guide, or it's a sequence of read-look-read-look-read-look, usually followed by longer/deeping looking, is what constitutes the pleasure of experiencing the art object. I thoroughly agree with Jones' about that depth of pleasure/inspiration in looking at the object, but I am irritated by people, like the curators of that exhibit, who are telling me that when I combine that with reading, I am not doing art properly, that I must only look.
I think the tone makes the music. Preparing for visits to exhibitions can be great fun, and technology has a lot to offer in making that preparation less like swotting for an exam and more like something to enhance your experience. Just telling people off doesn't do it for me.
Actually, I'm not totally against limiting numbers of visitors to what will inevitably be an extremely popular exhibition. I remember seeing the Mona Lisa in Paris, and the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and both of those experience were just dreadful. Crowds of people, flashing cameras (for which I think there ought to be a huge bloody fine) - you don't actually 'see' anything at all, never mind have the time to experience the wonders of what is before you. So limit the exhibition numbers by all means. But don't then restrict the exhibition just to the bleedin' capital city, ffs. Tour it, so that the commoners outside London, and potentially those who can't afford a day trip into the city, can experience it too.
The scolding tone does not help at all.
I understand why the numbers need to be limited. My experience of the Notre Dame (in Paris also) sounds much like yours of the Mona Lisa and Sistine Chapel. Seeing Michaelangelo's David wasn't nearly as bad, although we had to queue for our pre-booked time slot in the gallery but I don't remember that we were time-limited once inside. Touring is an excellent answer and I wish they were doing that. A day trip to London is a ten hour round trip for me (and not much less time if I flew), let alone the cost.
Absolutely agree with this. Thanks for the link.
For me, while I like paintings fine, I prefer architecture. I think I'm not the only one, and that, for one example, is why the National Trust is so popular in England, and why so many people visit cathedrals and abbeys. People getting their healthy fix of pleasure. Not just for intellectual curiousity.
Yes, and I certainly get similar pleasure from reading poetry, or watching hamlet. Sometimes you almost think 'if they knew what this felt like it would be illegal'.
Sometimes you almost think 'if they knew what this felt
like it would be illegal'.