I like the whole idea of not accepting a work of art on face value, and at least trying to see what else might be going on. It would be cool to see what others see in a particular artist.
Let's talk about your best personal experiences with art. What were your predjudices about the work/artist? How were they resolved? What moved you the most about the viewing? How were you inspired/repulsed/provoked? What works of other artists come to mind, and how would you compare them?
Because one's response to art is so very personal/subjective, I strongly believe there is no "wrong" way to perceive someone's work.All opinions are valid, so I'd love the focus to be kept on the art rather than criticism of the perceiver, if possible.
Actual images rather than links would be preferable, thanks!
I'll start. A big discussion about Leonardo Da Vinci brought something to mind the other day, so with apologies, I'll reprint it here in hopes of getting a different sort of ball rolling.
I will always cherish the memory of a trip to the Salvador Dali museum/home in Figueres, a town a couple of hours outside of Barcelona. Previously, I had not really thought much about him beyond that one painting of the dripping clocks that we all know, and the fact that he was a surrealist. I wasn't much of a fan either, btw. His paintings always felt a little creepy and empty and strange. His vision just seemed too personal to be able to relate to. The moustache, however, delighted me.
When I got there, the first thing that struck me was that every inch of the place had been lovingly and meticulously designed, from a minaret or gable on a roof to the outlay of the stones on the path leading in.
Inside was even more so and I realized that from walls to ceiling, the entire complex (that he had designed himself) was one giant art installation, with a new perspective to be offered in every corner - from really obvious things like an arrangement of paintings and a couch became the face of Marilyn Monroe, to extremely subtle things like if you move your head back & forth in front of two sculptures placed oddly in an alcove, they become cleverly animated and are "interacting." I loved his sense of humor - that if one is willing to look and move in strange ways and look like an idiot, he richly rewarded you with a "secret" about the piece that no one else was seeing.
Like Da Vinci, Dali was fascinated with mirrors and mathmatic calculations and ways to bend the perceiver's mind, and he was greatly influenced by him.
When you first walk in, there is this giant, incomprehensible mural that shows a massive figure (one of many "portraits" of his long-suffering wife and muse, Gala) in which a hole in the chest is gaping open. It's puzzling, and seems to contain a lot of empty, inexplicable but devoted space.
The light you see in the corner is coming from a huge bank of windows.
Here's a view from the courtyard
At one pivotal moment during the day, if you go through the bank of windows, cross this courtyard opposite the mural
,passing this strange ship thing that's actually even up higher because it's mounted into a full-size car (full of grass? I think?)...and you go up four floors to a particular window and look across the courtyard at the right time of day - the panes of the windows in front of the mural seem to disappear in the reflection of the sun, giving the mural a weird shimmering - and very deliberate- effect. What's more, the entire courtyard becomes a dreamscape in which the sculpture of the "boat" suddenly is seen to be emerging/sailing from the crack in the skull of Gala's head, floating upon a shimmer of light. Look down, and the car it's mounted on is emerging from the tomb-like opening in the chest.
The effect was astonishing. I came across it quite by accident at the end of the day, and my heart started pumping furiously. I wanted to grab the people just casually passing by the window and show them what I found, but I couldn't because of the language barrier. They were missing it. Here it was right in front of them - a whole other layer and way to view this entire museum, and they were trudging by in a tour bus stupor. The hours of calculations that had gone into achieving this completely overwhelmed me (easy to do for me - I'm not so good at math
) . To this day, I've never been quite able to fully describe the beauty of this amazing thing.
All the notes that Dali had written about his philosophy of art - how there are miracles in the ordinary just below the surface, how he tried his whole life to capture a way to make people see with spiritual eyes into other realms - began to make sense to me, and I realized suddenly how many vast universes I was not accessing when I looked at his work. Here was an artist to be trusted with my time and attention, because so much more than paint and raw materials had gone into his vision. And context was absolutely everything.