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.
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.
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?