The wonderful quote above is by the great Paul Klee.
Hello all! I went on a trip to New York with family last weekend and I wanted to share some thoughts on… ART! (Shocked, you must be). Specifically, I want to examine the absorption of material (artistic and beyond).
For background, I have been to many museums in my life and I like to consider myself an art appreciator. Bopping from canvas to canvas, I become a kid in a candy store (looking and not touching, of course). Without fail, I leave feeling both inspired and hungry for more. All this aside, I became keenly aware of an unpleasant feeling during my last museum rendezvous in the city. (If you were wondering, we visited The Met, The Guggenheim, Cooper Hewitt, and The MoMA).
Anyways, in certain art exhibitions we attended, I felt a bit defeated looking at each of the paintings. I had surely seen many of them in the past, yet despite my greatest efforts, I failed to remember the work’s associating artist. Understandably, the purpose of art is to take in its beauty, above all. However, I could not help but feel like a sham when looking at an obvious Mondrian, for instance, and drawing a blank. If I was truly a consumer of art and present during my past museum visits—how did I not remember the talented artists behind the works I grew to love? The frustration did not stop with this inner conflict. In retaliation, I decided to test myself at each art piece to see if I could call to mind the artist, or at the very least, rehearse the details of their work to unbreakable memory. Now, testing my knowledge would not have been a problem in this scenario if I was not so self-critical when I did produce the right answer. I became so immersed in this game, I could not truly enjoy the art before me. One does not need knowledge of a painting’s proclaimed style, technique, or originator to attend to the beauty of the lines, brush strokes, and feelings evoked. This would have been a more fulfilling process than my unquenchable need to prove my fondness for the arts.
Therein lies a misconception. To hold a passion, the consensus is you must also own an information chest in your head to access knowledge about it indefinitely. Then, you must prove to yourself and others that since you know every fact on the matter—you are most loyal to your craft. This is such an overwhelming responsibility. Instead of encouraging someone to explore a new area of interest, such as art, this stipulation would undoubtably make them shy away. I had a moment of realization that there was more at hand than my acts of forgetfulness. I needed to reassess how I evaluated my own manner of processing information. Not everything we learn is for the sake of testing and regurgitation. Knowledge can ebb and flow from our memory and this is not something to admonish. If the fact did not stay in place, it wasn’t because one actively banished it from the filing cabinet of his or her mind. Nor does it mean one simply did not care about it enough to revisit it so it would not lose its place. The ability to relearn is the opportunity to see a familiar thing in a new light. The fresh perspective gained in the process is a treasure; not a transgression.
– Additional notes –
My favorite works of art were Peach Harvest by Paul Klee, The Piano Lesson by Henri Matisse, The Dreamer by Pablo Picasso, this abstract painting by Julian Lethbridge, Bouquet of Sunflowers by Claude Monet, Crucifixion by Salvador Dali, and Portrait of Joseph Roulin by Van Gogh.