Where do you find yourself wandering when you go to a museum…off into Ancient Egypt, or do you immediately see the crowded, main attraction? Do you amble through the Medieval period to gaze at statues of saints carved from cool marble, or do you find yourself revisiting the permanent collection of paintings that are always there, waiting to be admired? Maybe you always make a point of dropping by the gift shop afterward to buy picture postcards rather than snapping away with your iPhone.
Elizabeth Taylor could apparently be brought to tears by a Van Gogh painting. Some artists have more of an emotional resonance, while other pieces are admired strictly from a technical point of view. Whether it’s the craft or meaning behind a piece, everyone should be able to experience great art. That’s why I love museums and libraries so much: they are institutions where everyone from every walk of life can experience and learn about great art and ideas.
Why do people invest in art if they have the economic means? Is it a strictly practical thing…an investment for the future? Do they want to be an art patron, or are they actually moved by the pieces? There are people who enter the art world from a purely professional angle, as a business. One can invest in art they don’t necessarily like but because they think it’s a solid business decision. I’m more interested in what stirs the imagination, what touches the heart, and, if you have the means, donating collections of art to museums where everyone can enjoy its majesty.
Artists and main works, associations, etc.:
• Medieval period (spanning 500-15th or 16th century): images of saints and old manuscripts covered in a beautiful script of old English are always fascinating. Maybe, if this is the sort of art you prefer, you also have a reverence for old books and get lost in the stacks whenever you go into a library or bookstore. This type of art is also ideal for someone who is interested in religion and spiritualism (especially Catholicism).
• Classicism, Renaissance (the 15th to 17th centuries): hallmark artists include Michelangelo and his infamous “David” and Bellini’s portraits of Venetian families, saints, and his Madonna and child.
• Dutch Golden Age: Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Vermeer, Franz Hals, Peter Paul Rubens (although he was Flemish, from Belgium)…the list goes on. If you love Girl with a Pearl Earring, you’re probably into detail and how light is conveyed with paint. This technique seen in any Vermeer is almost overwhelming.
• Impressionism (mostly 19th century): Claude Monet, Edouard Manet (at the Met now with Degas in a special exhibition), Cézanne and Pierre Auguste Renoir documented the ever-changing mercurial way light plays with color and gave still lifes of fruits and vegetables whole new depth and meaning.
• Symbolism, Post-Impressionism: Paul Gauguin traveled to Tahiti during the late 19th century to depict exotic landscapes. If this is your cup of tea, you probably have wanderlust. His paintings of the locals were
• Modernism (Abstract), Cubism (20th century): If Pablo Picasso is a favorite, you’re traditional but also a forward thinker. After all, isn’t Picasso considered a consummate genius who, to this day, shocks people?
• Pop Art: Warhol, Lichtenstein, Ruscha (at MoMA) (20th century): while there are some paintings that inspire emotion, art is also a technical thing, and some artists may do this wonderfully while not appealing to the emotions (such as Jasper Johns, etc.). If you like modern Americana pieces by Ruscha, you’re probably into Americana and a sort of nostalgia that is very clean and practical.
To learn more about how to fill your life with art and beauty, check out what else is on the blog.
(Images above are paintings by Monet, Manet, and Ruscha.)