Since being established in 2012, World Art Day has been celebrated on April 15th – the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci. I had no idea such a thing existed until I saw my friend Crystal Miller had linked to it when sharing a few examples of ‘Art that moves me’ on her Facebook timeline. In addition to posting some of her artistic favourites, Crystal asked, ‘What moves you? and ‘Who is your favourite artist. I replied:
I love art in part because it is subjective, my answer to this question could change every day, hour, minute even. I see you have a Klimt in your montage. Last year we visited an amazing exhibition in a disused mine in Baux, southern France where works by Klimt and others were projected onto huge underground walls. There was musical accompaniment – the whole thing was incredibly moving. This photo may give you some idea of the huge scale of the thing. So today – I choose Klimt.
Sticking with subjectivity, I like to experience art I’ve not seen before now – I recall being particularly inspired by a chance visit to Tate Britain to see work by Kurt Schwitters. I joined Tate primarily to encourage me to experience more art for the first time and these new experiences in particular, deliver great value to me. Of course there are also times when my artistic encounters backfire, and occasionally I even seek out art I know I won’t like to reflect on my reaction to it.
I recently visited Inventing Impressionism at The National Gallery. The exhibition features a collection of impressionist paintings bought and then sold by art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. Durand-Ruel backed these fledgling artists when pretty much everyone else ridiculed them, and his early support was instrumental in the success of the movement.
When I visited the exhibition I experienced both the joy of unexpected beauty, and the trials of ugliness. The beauty was particularly stunning in a series of five paintings of poplars by Monet. Not only are these paintings individually beautiful – they have been curated wonderfully. This is an art experience in the moment, as I doubt very much that these five paintings will ever share the same wall again. For me the ugliness arrived in the form of Manet’s work, sorry all you Manet fans – but he does nothing for me. I have also noticed that each time I see work by Renoir I find his soft focus approach increasingly not to my liking either, it all feels too cutesy for me.
I enjoy the way art enthuses and challenges me, it offers a powerful reminder to acknowledge the importance of subjectivity. Even when we’re certain about what we are seeing – others may have a very different perspective, and I find it useful to be reminded of that.
What moves you?