Art In Person

Speaking of art, I think some art has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Sometimes the reality is not accurately portrayed by pictures or prints. That subtle something different comes across in reality but not in static images. Is it the lighting, being able to see from different angles, or something else? Perhaps a real appreciation of scale of the work that is missing in photographs? Perhaps several things.

The “primitive” paintings of Grandma Moses for example. The paint drip works of Jackson Pollock are another example. They are different somehow from what people think they could create themselves as I talked about in my last post.

But in both those cases I think you have to see their works in real life to fully appreciate them. I know I never really understood what people saw in Pollock’s works until I saw a could of them in person. That’s also true of some work that can be somewhat appreciated from photographs but which are much more impactful in person.

Two works that come to mind are Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and Michelangelo’s Moses. I was impressed with both from pictures in books but when I first saw them in person I was amazed. First off both of them are huge pieces of work.

The couple in the foreground of La Grande Jatte are pretty much life sized. The work takes up the whole wall of the room where it is displayed. (Art Institute of Chicago which is a must visit in Chicago for me.)

Michelangelo’s Moses is more than life size. And the figure is carved with powerful looking muscles. It looks as if it could come to life and toss people around the room. (Its in the church of St.Mary Major in Rome and well worth a visit.) The Pieta gets more attention but to me this is the piece worth seeing.

Besides you can’t get as close to the Pieta as you used to. I’ve seen both close up and still prefer the Moses. Though I will tell you that the Pieta is a lot more impressive close up than it is from a distance and viewed through the Plexiglas wall it is behind now. Like so many other things getting close is to get a much better appreciation of the work.

And that my friends is why art museums will probably never go out of business and why collectors pay serious money for the real thing.

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