Thursday, 25 March 2010

SHHHHH!!! Don't Disturb The Art

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Copyright of The National Gallery

When I go to The National Gallery, my husband and I scurry around the place in hysterics. We dash up to Whistlejacket (above) and audibly swoon. His legs go weak at the Kandinsky and we give huge pantomime yawns at Van Gogh's tired, unemotional, unnecessary vase of mundane summer plants. Bizarrely, the horrid artless barrel of testosterone with a walkie talkie strapped to her muffin tops threatens to throw us out.

At the Courtauld Gallery, we discussed the intricacy of Michelangelo's pencil drawings which lead towards The Dream and gossiped about the fate of the great master's relationship with his teenage muse, Tommaso de’ Cavalieri. And we were told to "shhh"?

Why should we experience visual art in silence? It requires your eyes, not your ears. I appreciate that there should be a level of respect, but it doesn't have to be a solitary experience. Art suffers from its formality. We're told what is and isn't great and never given chance to engage with it on any sort of an intelligent level.

My relationship with Whistlejacket is personal and emotional. For a whole summer it was housed in the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, while I was working round the corner. I fell in love with its scale and became attached to the apparent sadness in the horses eyes. I'd pop in and visit it every day on my lunch break. So, when I bump into this old friend and I'm with my new boyfriend, of course I want to tell him this story.

Copyright Ras Marley

Similarly, when Nick, a composer and scultor, sees Kandinsky he wants to tell me all about how Kandinsky (above) is an artist and composer; how Kandisky paints sound and visualises symphonies; how he feels connected to Kandinsky through their joint burden of living in art and the alienating struggle to translate what exists in thier heads to something tangible to the everyman. He tells me about his passion in such a way that I engage with the painting and it takes on a new meaning for me.

Sorry, horrid artless barrel of testosterone with a walkie talkie strapped to your muffin tops, I will talk my way around your gallery. I'm appreciating it a hell of a lot more than most of the Brian Sewell parrots in the room.

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