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How do we "experience art"? Is there a way specific to the work?

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
This morning, the New york Times published an article on the pressure key galleries in Europe have as hordes of visitors pack in to view their art treasures on display. The buildings aren't designed for the huge numbers of enthusiastic folk packing into spaces like this was the last subway train out of town before a "blackout" (....................or the sale of a new iphone "limited edition" with x-ray vision)!




New York Times: A crowd viewing the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre in Paris, the busiest art museum in the world.

Credit: Guia Besana


Museum authorities are frightened for the paintings. Thousands of people in a room breathing out moisture and carbon dioxide does provide a constant carbonic acid vapor, not too good for the art! There are pickpockets working among the masses and from time to time the venus sculpture in London needs a finger replaced!

Still with 3-6 million of more visitors a year to each museum, the financial side of the equation is not mentioned in the NYT article, but, for sure, they love the cash flow!

The question I pose is this. How can one appreciate art when one is in a sea of people, perhaps in front of a Mona Lisa for 40 seconds and have "got the snap" with camera held up above the crowd, to move on to the next masterpiece to jostle for viewing angle and repeat the process.


Does each work of art have certain minimum requirements and conditions to be appreciated as "art", and thus able to elicit in us, some of the range of experience the artist intended. Does it matter that museums seem to be becoming "zoos for captured art" rather than places for pondering, enlightenment, meditation, musing, entertaining and energizing our imaginations. Or, perhaps, are my questions merely elitist? After all, the crowds are, at the very least, entertained!



After all, the picture was intended to be seen without all this commotion. One would presumably have time to take it all in and then perhaps share reactions with a friend and even come back to it several times more that afternoon. The sculpture of David by Michelangelo was sure intended to be walked around and admired from various standpoints, not snapped as a trophy like catching a goal scored in a football match!

We see this issue here showing pictures, meant for printing and placing on a large empty wall, being viewed backlit on our computer screens and we all know how difficult it can be to close the gap and provide the viewer the full "presence" of the work.

Read the entire NYT article here

I'd love your ideas and comments!

Asher
 

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Hi, Asher,

This morning, the New york Times published an article on the pressure key galleries in Europe have as hordes of visitors pack in to view their art treasures on display. The buildings aren't designed for the huge numbers of enthusiastic folk packing into spaces like this was the last subway train out of town before a "blackout" (....................or the sale of a new iphone "limited edition" with x-ray vision)!



New York Times: A crowd viewing the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre in Paris, the busiest art museum in the world.

Credit: Guia Besana

Museum authorities are frightened for the paintings. Thousands of people in a room breathing out moisture and carbon dioxide does provide a constant carbonic acid vapor, not too good for the art! There are pickpockets working among the masses and from time to time the venus sculpture in London needs a finger replaced!

Still with 3-6 million of more visitors a year to each museum, the financial side of the equation is not mentioned in the NYT article, but, for sure, they love the cash flow!

The question I pose is this. How can one appreciate art when one is in a sea of people, perhaps in front of a Mona Lisa for 40 seconds and have "got the snap" with camera held up above the crowd, to move on to the next masterpiece to jostle for viewing angle and repeat the process.

Does each work of art have certain minimum requirements and conditions to be appreciated as "art", and thus able to elicit in us, some of the range of experience the artist intended. Does it matter that museums seem to be becoming "zoos for captured art" rather than places for pondering, enlightenment, meditation, musing, entertaining and energizing our imaginations. Or, perhaps, are my questions merely elitist? After all, the crowds are, at the very least, entertained!

After all, the picture was intended to be seen without all this commotion. One would presumably have time to take it all in and then perhaps share reactions with a friend and even come back to it several times more that afternoon. The sculpture of David by Michelangelo was sure intended to be walked around and admired from various standpoints, not snapped as a trophy like catching a goal scored in a football match!

We see this issue here showing pictures, meant for printing and placing on a large empty wall, being viewed backlit on our computer screens and we all know how difficult it can be to close the gap and provide the viewer the full "presence" of the work.

Read the entire NYT article here

I'd love your ideas and comments!
I share your revulsion in many things that happen in the world of "art".

Your post introduces some distinct but entangled concepts.

For a while, I thought you were reviving the question of what makes a work qualify as "art". But I think that is not what you meant. (If you do mean that, I would deal with the question harshly!)

Perhaps the real question is, "What does good art 'deserve' as a context to bring it before the public"?

And then how can that model be "enforced"?

Of course, if the art is under copyright, the copyright holder can, in theory, control how, if at all, the work is made available to the public. Of course, in the cyber age, there can be many "leaks".

Imagine that we conclude that "good art" deserves to be hung in a museum with an enforced limit on crowd density (and careful vetting against viewers with bad colds and so forth). But of course, that would be up to the museum management to control.

Best regards,

Doug
 

Tom dinning

Registrant*
This may or may not be about the art. It might also or alternatively, be about the experience.
The modern traveler is on tour. Fast and furious buses take excited and highly scheduled clients to and from their destinations, feeding them with cuisine and culture, providing them with the opportunity to experience for a moment, what they might have dreamed of after seeing a photograph in a brochure or railway banner. They are paying for the privilege of seeing with their own eyes the beauty of the world, described to them by countless critics before them.

But there is little time. They must rush and push and jostle and queue and photograph so they might know what it is like to stand before a thing of beauty. They grasp furtively but know that they only have a second or two to implant in their memory. So, they take with that memory other things. The crowd, the journey, the cost, the lunch, the pushing and shoving, the agony of not getting close enough. Its the experience of being. That's the new art for the masses.

Adams took pictures of the beauty of the American landscape so he might show others its beauty. He succeeded. His art exposed the world to a place unknown. He also caused an avalanche as the tourists flocked to see what they had seen in his photos. In exposing its beauty in art, Adams also instigated the possible demise of that which he sought to preserve.

We do this with all art. We know of its beauty through photographs. We want to see the real thing. We pay our dues and stand before the Picasso or Rembrandt or stare at the ceiling of a chapel. At that moment we can be alone or not. How does that alter the experience? And how does it summon the demise of the art? What is art if it cannot be seen or experienced? Who is art for if it is hidden away in a vault? How long is art to last if it cannot be fondled by the loving masses?

Above all, who decided, at the doors of the gallery, who enters and who is unworthy? Surely those who understand the art should allow those who do not to be educated, to stand in front of such beauty and be momentarily mesmerized, feel a flicker of joy for being here and sharing the moment with their fellow human beings.
My father taught me about the beauty of art in the crowded galleries of Sydney. I saw things I still remember to this day and I feel the pushing and shoving of the crowd as they craved for a glimpse. I feel his firm grim on my hand and then he would lift me above his shoulders and say "get a load of that, Tommy. You may not see anything as beautiful for some time." We would return home and chat about what we had done and what we had seen. We shared the joy of the experience.
Now, when I stand in a crowd before The Night Watch I remember those moments and still feel his grip. Then I look around and see others doing the same with their children, or pointing with a friend or taking a shot to share with those who couldn't be here.

Never, never, never suggest that this is not the value of art and should be stopped for the sake of preservation. The human experience is always of greater value than the object.
When the object has gone, the photos and memories will remain. And a whole lot of people will be the better for it.

"Art is ....... what we make of it"
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Never, never, never suggest that this is not the value of art and should be stopped for the sake of preservation. The human experience is always of greater value than the object.
When the object has gone, the photos and memories will remain. And a whole lot of people will be the better for it.

"Art is ....... what we make of it"
Tom,

Well, I'd unwilling to allow the masses to devour the Mona Lisa or take apart "David" in the louvre. there are myriads of inexpensive copies for the masses to ravish. Still, no one has or would ask my permission on the matter! So you're safe!

We should have respect for rivers, children, air we breathe, water and our cultural heritage. Species cannot be recreated and loss of the original works of art would be tragic and is really unnecessary.

The advantage of having copies of the Mona Lisa for the tourist crowds spewing carbon dioxide and moisture - corrosive carbonic acid fumes - is that there can be multiples and the folk can even feel the texture and there's no risk of loss. Tday, a 3D digital painting on an Oce or Fuji printer, to be recognized as a fake, requires considerable skill and expertise, none of which most folk possess. I reality don't see any advantage of allowing tens of millions of people to p=surge through the Vatican art galleries each year. It's just a way of harvesting money from tourists and the art experience is limited to your description above. They'd be just as happy with actually being able to feel the surface of the genuine authorized, high definition perfect copies.

In fact, I see no reason why such an art collection should even be in possession of a religious organization. a good percentage of the sculpture are homo-erotic, just relabeled with "holy", angelic sounding titles, but still arguably homo-erotic and surprisingly in a church building! That, when preaching against more liberal social values is an obvious contradiction.

Asher
 

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Hi, Tom,

This may or may not be about the art. It might also or alternatively, be about the experience.
The modern traveler is on tour. Fast and furious buses take excited and highly scheduled clients to and from their destinations, feeding them with cuisine and culture, providing them with the opportunity to experience for a moment, what they might have dreamed of after seeing a photograph in a brochure or railway banner. They are paying for the privilege of seeing with their own eyes the beauty of the world, described to them by countless critics before them.

But there is little time. They must rush and push and jostle and queue and photograph so they might know what it is like to stand before a thing of beauty. They grasp furtively but know that they only have a second or two to implant in their memory. So, they take with that memory other things. The crowd, the journey, the cost, the lunch, the pushing and shoving, the agony of not getting close enough. Its the experience of being. That's the new art for the masses.

Adams took pictures of the beauty of the American landscape so he might show others its beauty. He succeeded. His art exposed the world to a place unknown. He also caused an avalanche as the tourists flocked to see what they had seen in his photos. In exposing its beauty in art, Adams also instigated the possible demise of that which he sought to preserve.

We do this with all art. We know of its beauty through photographs. We want to see the real thing. We pay our dues and stand before the Picasso or Rembrandt or stare at the ceiling of a chapel. At that moment we can be alone or not. How does that alter the experience? And how does it summon the demise of the art? What is art if it cannot be seen or experienced? Who is art for if it is hidden away in a vault? How long is art to last if it cannot be fondled by the loving masses?

Above all, who decided, at the doors of the gallery, who enters and who is unworthy? Surely those who understand the art should allow those who do not to be educated, to stand in front of such beauty and be momentarily mesmerized, feel a flicker of joy for being here and sharing the moment with their fellow human beings.
My father taught me about the beauty of art in the crowded galleries of Sydney. I saw things I still remember to this day and I feel the pushing and shoving of the crowd as they craved for a glimpse. I feel his firm grim on my hand and then he would lift me above his shoulders and say "get a load of that, Tommy. You may not see anything as beautiful for some time." We would return home and chat about what we had done and what we had seen. We shared the joy of the experience.
Now, when I stand in a crowd before The Night Watch I remember those moments and still feel his grip. Then I look around and see others doing the same with their children, or pointing with a friend or taking a shot to share with those who couldn't be here.

Never, never, never suggest that this is not the value of art and should be stopped for the sake of preservation. The human experience is always of greater value than the object.
When the object has gone, the photos and memories will remain. And a whole lot of people will be the better for it.

"Art is ....... what we make of it"
Very well said. Thanks.

Best regards,

Doug
 
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