Art is contemplation.
I love art. I just do. I’m one of those strange, bookish people who could spend their whole day in an art museum, wandering the galleries and staring for long, uninterrupted moments at time worn paintings. Throw in some coffee and moments for thought jottings and you have one of my more introverted versions of a perfect day. There is some sort of silent beckons to me in great art, this call to come close and look hard at the single slice of story that the artist left behind in his painting. As a writer I have an unlimited number of pages in which to elaborate my philosophy, an artist has only the single canvas. His belief and love and grief have their life in the strength of his color, the fold of his subjects hands, the fall of light, the glance of eye. I love the mystery that waits to be considered in every painting, especially the old ones.
So yesterday, I was all for a jaunt with friends up to the Denver Art Museum. First of all, I turned one corner and was face to face with a Hans Holbein painting that I befriended through a book in childhood. My mom and siblings were equally delighted as I to see this painting face-to-face. Hello Mr. Hans! Then too we saw a Bouguereau painting of two girls; my future daughters will be great friends with the gladsome, natural lasses of his paintings. We had a guide who gave an interesting tour from the point of world view which I enjoyed. It is fascinating to see the belief of generations reflected in the vivid pictures they produced. From the medieval age of divine revelation with it’s plethora of sacred art all telling some part of the Biblical story, to the age of reason with it’s bright-eyed lords and ladies. You can see the thought and hope of each generation reaching out through their pictures. I love the emotion and fixation with light of the Impressionists, the passion and attention to craft of the Pre-Raphaelites. I love their quiet-eyed ladies, sitting in bowers of woodland and thought. I love the great swaths of color, the sun-loved landscapes. Regardless of the artist’s doubt or belief, I find a record of faith in every picture because every painting is an affirmation of some part of life. It was the artist’s attempt to articulate the beauty, often broken, that he perceived in the world around him, coupled with a desire for something to transcend and yet bring healing to it all.
I’d better stop now. I could wax eloquent for hours. There is just so much life-altering contemplation to be had at the feet of great art. I’ve made it a practice of mine to surround myself with pictures. It’s why I have my little art widget on this blog. I really believe their beauty catches at my thought, presents questions, beauties, hope to my mind. Pictures are poignant short stories left for us to read and the integrate into the well-living of our own bit of story. So I guess that I’ll end by saying along with Rodin that art really is contemplation. It’s a slice of soul left behind for the world to consider. And the great works of art whisper at just how well we could live if we but tried.
Now if I could ever just make my way to the Louvre…