Well, that’s not entirely true.
The subject moves me tremendously; which is to say I may ramble on incoherently about art and look the fool, but I’m nonetheless compelled to share that which speaks to me (now that I finally have the time in my life to listen).
I know just enough about art and art history to know I’m been culturally challenged for most of my life. I could use my dominant left brain as an excuse, but my right brain refuses to throw in the towel despite the classic fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants approach. The more I try to talk about (or around) art, the more apparent it becomes that I essentially know next to nothing when it comes to the subject.
See! I’m doing the incoherent ramble thing already!
Despite my cultural shortcomings and my ramblings, I’m living proof that it doesn’t matter if you don’t “know” art. You’ll know if the art moves you; that’s what really matters. If it truly moves you, you'll want to “know” more about the artist; maybe even the artist's contribution to the history of art.
I discovered I wanted to know more when my own cultural revolution began. I wasn’t just moved by this pivotal painting; I remember being completely blown away. My right brain did cartwheels! And then my left brain said, ‘Wait. I need details!’
The beauty of it all? It started with a kiss.
Two and a half years ago, I’d known nothing of the Austrian painter before traveling halfway round the world to Vienna. God, I love field trips! I had no idea the controversy surrounding his erotic and exotic ‘Golden Period’ pieces; no idea his shimmering, geometric patterns helped launch early modernism.
All I knew, standing before this vibrant masterpiece (it measured 6 feet by 6 feet; my image succumbed to some cropping) hanging inside Vienna’s grand Österreichische Galerie Belvedere Museum was that I was mesmerized by its brilliance (the shimmering gold tones are the product of gold leaf applied on portions of the underlying oil paint); by its exquisite geometric patterns (my left brain did cartwheels, too); by its unabashed tenderness (and underlying passion) shared by these two lovers (my left and right brains shared a private moment of wedded bliss).
Weeks later I blogged about that emotional moment. Two years later, I’m still gaga over the lady and her lover.
When trailers for the movie, “Woman in Gold,” starring Helen Mirren, hit the media earlier this year, I recognized Klimt’s signature style and understood how another of his ‘Golden Pieces’ might be at the center of the fascinating true story involving the late Maria Altman and artwork stolen by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
There have been others since Gustav Klimt, most recently paintings by the largely self-taught, post-impressionist Vincent van Gogh, considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt. Knowing Van Gogh's history of mental illness (who hasn't heard Don McLean's touching ode to Vincent, Starry Starry Night?) and his impoverished and lonely existence simply imbued his paintings with a tenderness reflecting the beauty, emotion and color that signify van Gogh's genius. His art was his salvation, a noble endeavor that gave meaning, albeit posthumously, to his short life (he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 37).
Among the vast collection of art objects that caught my eye (aside from all the van Gogh's, that is), several paintings by the world-famous Spaniard, Pablo Picasso;
To borrow a quote from an authority on the subject, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Thanks Picasso.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Gustav Klimt!