For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in art. I used to love going to art galleries as a kid and a young teen, and drawing and painting was the earliest of my creative outlets; I always knew that the only way I could be happy in later life was if I was doing something creative, and so far my younger self has been (almost, there are other things I want to do too) 100% right. While there are a few galleries in London and Los Angeles I like to frequent just to pass a free day (the Saatchi Gallery, the Tate Modern, the (British) National Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art among them), what I especially enjoy are special editions and retrospective exhibitions on special themes or artists that I'm especially interested in. This got me thinking; not everyone loves wandering around galleries as much as I do, and if you've never really learnt how to appreciate art, I don't blame you, but special retrospectives on topics that interest you may prove an excellent way into the world of art. I designed this post to give those of you who are sceptical about art, to find an area they might be interested in. A few tasters if you will, of things I have seen and/ or studied which have have appeal outside the world of art and you don't have to have studied art or art history like me to enjoy.
I've just finished what will probably be the last Art History course I'll every take, on 16th and 17th century Dutch Art at UCLA. I hated it, and I really ought to have left my studies at Augustan era Roman sculpture. Anyway, I think the moral of this story is is not to write something off because you've had a bad experience with it. I came across this painting of The Denial of Saint Peter by Dutch painter of the period I've just finished studying, Gerrit van Honthorst in January at LACMA as part of the Carravagio show. I don't care much for the details or the subject matter in this painting, or the use of colour. What made me stand in front of the painting for longer than any other piece in the gallery that morning was the use of light in the picture. The way it highlights so much dark and barely discernible space on the canvas. Sometimes there might just be some small detail of a piece of artwork you may not otherwise have been interested in that has you absolutely captivated.
Just look at how Hades' fingers press into Persephone's flesh, how realistic the indentations in her thigh are, as well as the curves and shape of her flesh. Then remind yourself that Bernini has carved this out of a solid block of marble. If you did not know that this above close up was a photograph of a sculpture, you'd have to think it was a painting because of how realistic the rendering is. I really want to see this piece in, well, the flesh.
Londoners, if you've never been to The National Gallery, The Tate Modern, The Saatchi Gallery, The V&A, Angelenos if you've never been to LACMA or to the Getty, The Norton Simon or The Huntington, take this weekend out to do so and find something that you like to look at.