The last time that I saw so many sketchers at a museum was in front of Michelangelo’s David in Florence, Italy. The year was 1989. I was with my girlfriend at the time, another artist in my life, and the people sitting down to sketch the tall marble figure of this masterpiece vexed the museum guards to no end who urged the sketchers to stand up and basically move on.
Not so at the Tate Modern. I caught my breath on a bench, a bit bushed from jet lag and the long walk in the rain, not to mention the fatigue brought on from being in a busy, crowded museum, where really appreciating a work of art is a difficult, tiring task, and noticed myself surrounded by sketchers.
Naturally, I surreptitiously looked over their shoulders and was impressed by what I saw.
At another rest stop, I noticed a group of art students (all girls seated on the floor) drawing away.
I find it charming to see art students attempt to imbibe inspiration at the museum; it’s like writers who need to read others’ work and derive inspiration in order to come up with their own creations.
In fact, at all the museums that Naomi and I visited, school visits were quite common. It’s good to know that the education system is making use of the great wealth to be found in London museums.
Tell me about it
I was quite impressed by the written descriptions of the works of art presented at the museums in London – not stuffy or opaque at all.
A museum visit can be exhausting: it’s often stimulus overload. It can be difficult to manage one’s energy there. I think that I would do better if there were one painting per room and a bench close by (with no other people in the room, of course, or at least quietly sitting like me) where I can serenely meditate on it, as I would with a piece of music. I would certainly appreciate listening to a critique of the piece as well, why not?
I did notice that the art experts who write descriptions or who give guided tours seem to read a lot into a painting – I noticed at the National Gallery a description of a Gauguin painting that mentioned the harmony between Man & Nature that the painter was trying to portray. How? Through the use of a blue palette throughout. Oh really?
Did Gauguin write something about his vision to guide our perspective?
Anyway, I didn’t see anything especially “harmonious” about it, but then again I only studied it for a couple dozen seconds for moving on, as opposed to however long an art expert does…