Art galleries

Mr S and I are philistines. Goodness, I didn’t even know cartoons were not the things shown on Saturday morning TV for kids. 

With that set as the baseline, you may come to my following review with a level of gentle understanding. 

I look at art, quickly, to see a thing of beauty. Or I look at it as an historical artefact. 

Every museum, royal palace, church you visit has major art on display. More?

We raced by many paintings and sculpture. “Yes, lovely. Next!”

I did enjoy commentary on some when they told a narrative. Such as the story told in the tapestry hanging in the V&A of the god Hephaestus’ ensnaring his wife, Aphrodite, when she cheated on him. And the explanation of the symbolism on the ceiling painting in the Banqueting House. But I could only listen to this in small doses. Not an art gallery full. 

I don’t get those who sit and stare at a painting for hours or look at every brush stroke. Do I sound like a barbarian? One of those brash, loud tourists who look at paintings because they should?

Guilty as charged. 

We visited the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. All up, we spent about 3 hours in them. Too short but it was all we had on that day. We were too rushed in the Portrait Gallery (we were kicked out at closing time) and I will definitely return. 


View frim tge steps if the National Gallert


I didn’t go to the Tate Modern. I don’t have a burning desire to see modern art. I can do that at home. And plan to see the new one in Hobart when I visit Tassie. A trip to London was about those things I cannot see, cannot feel, cannot emerge myself in at home. 

It was thrilling to see some art works only glimpsed in thumbnail images in books. You know how you think you know something because you’ve seen photos so often but when you see the real thing there’s this emotional presence that the photo doesn’t have? I felt this with Ayers Rock. And I felt this with some of the art work we saw. 

Some with crowds grouped around, such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, were less than moving than expected. Others, such as the paintings of Henry VIII, Shakespeare and the Bronte sisters were strangely stirring.  There’s something about feeling the person, a sense of immediacy, a presence not separated by time, that comes with the more intimate portraits. As opposed to the state portraits of monarchs and generals. I find the religious paintings lack that sense of the real person, based as they are on image not a sitting. Even a philistine such as I am, feels that the artist captures something of the person when the subject sits for the painting. I wish I had seen the portrait of Jane Austen. Missed that one. 

Some paintings are never fully captured in reproductions in books, especially if they are large. Bathers at Asnières was so striking because of its monumental size. 


Anyway, I’ve certainly come a long way and learnt a lot about appreciating at from this trip. 

Any painting you just want to see?


8 thoughts on “Art galleries

  1. I relate! I enjoy art on an elementary level – basically, is it aesthetically pleasing to me? (Though I wouldn’t know what style it was or who influenced the artist, etc.) I’m a fan of visiting art in person when it’s a huge piece or something 3-d (statues are super impressive to me) but otherwise, I’m pretty happy to see photos of art. And I’ve never stood for more than 5 minutes looking at one particular piece of art . .

    • Glad I’m not alone! 5 minutes is about my limit too. Maybe it is something about people who prefer words. Like books, can lose ourselves in books. But not art.

      I’m impressed by statues too.

  2. I’m a philistine, too. I go to Art Galleries to see the historical artefacts and timelines. If I know something of the background the artist and his time, I find it more accessible. We went to the Louvre and I loved it mainly because there was so much ‘other’ stuff: mummies, ancient Egyptian history, armor through the centuries, jewellery, Louis’ palace rooms re-created etc.

    I would love to see more of Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’ series, which I think is in the Tate Modern. There was a visiting example in Melbourne many years ago and it was one example of painting that I thought was absolutely stunning and very moving, without knowing anything at the time about the Guernica series. I’m not normally a huge fan of modern art, but I loved that series.

    • I disappoint the art teachers I work with – looking as I do at things from a position of do I find this personally aesthetically pleasing. But seems our group of Philistines is growing.

      I looked up the Weeping Women. Mmm! Maybe the emotional energy is experienced in real life!

      • Yes – I didn’t realise but the ‘Weeping Woman’ is based on a real life woman, Picasso’s mistress. The history (personal and political) behind the paintings is really interesting.

  3. I love modern art, but I quickly get bored with traditional portraits and landscapes. So I have been to Tate Modern and the Design Museum but not the National Gallery or Portrait Gallery. I don’t stare at individual artworks for long, but I like seeing the development of an artist’s work, or the effect of walking into a room with striking art. I like the 3D aspect of seeing actual paint on canvas, and getting a sense of how different styles were accomplished, whether it is Monet or Pollock. I like the museum experience, how it is curated, how they guide you through the works, encouraging wonder and learning. Oh and I am wild for museum gift shops 🙂

    • I love the sense of walking into a room with striking art too.

      And I’m the same with being interested in how a museum is curated. I have that “meta-experience” every time I attend a museum – thinking why and how they selected, explained and placed items. Museum shops where were we bought most of our souvenirs and gifts for people. Love them too. Could have bought more but no room in luggage.

      • I once visited a small, weird museum full of ancient artifacts, some labelled “authentic,” some labelled “copies,” and some unlabelled! It made me realize the museum wasn’t professionally curated, and that led to my ongoing interest in how exhibits are put together. I went to Disney World once, despite not being a real Disney fan, and I was able to entertain myself the whole trip by thinking about how they created and managed the sites. It was fascinating!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s