Monday, May 21, 2012

coloured dirt

"Painting is the most magical of mediums. The transcendence is truly amazing to me every time I go to a museum and I see how somebody figured another way to rub colored dirt on a flat surface and make space where there is no space or make you think of a life experience."

~ Chuck Close

We're back from our one week in Washington, DC.  I can tell you it's going to take a lot of time for all the things we saw to sink in!  So much food for the soul.  We saw a tremendous amount of art. (But other things too...).  And of course I took a ridiculous number of photographs.  Some just for the family album, but many that I'd like to share too, and this I'll do over the coming week in bits and bobs.

Today's instalment is devoted to The National Gallery, but more specifically to those things you observe that aren't exactly about the art on the walls, but what goes on around it.  For example, those brave beings who prop up their canvases on the gallery easels and become 'copyists.'  (Scroll down to the bottom of this link to see what it entails to become a copyist in the gallery). Interesting to note (and maybe especially interesting if you've read my book Hive) is that of the many copyists we saw in the gallery space in the three days we visited the NGA, there was only one man, and the rest were women.

I thought the woman in the photos above was rather delightfully dressed. She was the first copyist I clicked away at, but she seemed completely fine with it.  In other instances, the copyist was quite swarmed with people taking pictures, and often I'd see them stopping to answer questions. The docents sweeping from room to room would be careful not to enter the frame when anyone was photographing one of the copyists.

Sometimes the copyist would seem entirely caught up in the world of paint, and oblivious to all the goings on.

"A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world."

~ Edmond de Goncourt

I'm quite sure the docents also hear some pretty interesting stuff, ridiculous stuff.  But they must hear also some truly beautiful stuff.  In the limited time I spent looking at other people looking (there was just too much to look at to spend too many minutes doing this) I found it pretty fascinating.  I love to hear the oohs, and awwws.  One person calling another over because they have to see something.  A quiet excitement, a deep interest, amazement, transcendence, and all because of that coloured mud on a flat surface.

We've been to quite a few of the major art museums by now, and I have to say I was totally impressed with the NGA in Washington.  The clean lines, the wonderful scale of the halls, the angles.  The pleasing placement of the furniture. The colours of the walls (in the last photo the walls are just a shade lighter than the ones in my living room, so I guess I'm pre-disposed to like them).  

So, a short post, but I can promise you there is more to come.  

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