A big part of me is decidedly pragmatic and utilitarian in nature. I generally look for pieces of furniture that are functional and practical in design. I think about how those shelves and drawers can be best utilized to suitably store my stuff. At the same time, I’m also a dreamer at heart, one who gets caught up easily in beautiful art and culture.
While making my way around the Facebook wall earlier today, a friend of mine shared a photo of some teenagers at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Rather than appreciating and attempting to understand the great works of Rembrandt, they all had their backs turned to “The Night’s Watch” and were all gazing intently at their smartphone screens instead.
Why are you even at an art gallery or museum in the first place if you’re not going to look at what’s on display?
I don’t claim to know very much about art theory, art history or art appreciation. And I might not remember all that much from the information placards at each of those galleries and museums, but by golly, I spent the time to gaze into these great works. Sometimes, the best moments were spent in stillness and silence. Just looking.
Many people who go to The Louvre in Paris are drawn to the Mona Lisa. And as great a work as that may be, many of these same people forget to turn around and look upon the utterly massive painting on the back wall in the same room. That’s what you see here and, for my money, it was more impressive than the painting of a seated lady.
Our experience in Florence and Rome was much the same. Everywhere we went, there was something amazingly breathtaking to look at. The ceiling frescos, the dramatic sculptures, the awe-inspiring churches… and I can hardly be called religious. You don’t need to be a Catholic to appreciate Christian art.
More often than not, art is beautiful for its own sake, regardless of context.