Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why I like Art History: Julia

I love art. I particularly love really, really good art. The first few minutes I spent at the Muse Orsay, I had to concentrate on not hyperventilating. You think I'm kidding, but I'm really, really not.

History has always been a hobby of mine, it's sort of a family thing. We've all got this interest and a kind of sense of being born in the wrong time. So, put art and history together and you've pretty much entered my personal nirvana (I know, I'm soooo un-cool), but there is more too it than that.

I like art history because when I look at a painting by Van Gogh, or Rembrandt, Titian, Pollock, etc. etc. I have a better understanding of what I am looking at and a better appreciation for what the artist is trying to convey.

I’ll give you an example (I’ve over shared this with my friends, so they can just ignore me right about now). In the past I didn’t really like Van Gogh’s work, the best way to put it is that I just didn’t get it. It was too much of too much for me. Then I saw some of his work in person and my opinion completely changed. I stood there in front of ‘The Siesta’ and got it. I used to think that seeing his work in person was what changed it for me, but that’s really only part of it. The other 50% was knowing his story.

Van Gogh, "The Siesta"

He painted his (probably) most famous painting, “Starry Night”, from a cell in an asylum. His use of color was personal for him; he attached his own meanings to the colors he used.

Yellow = Hope and trust.
Red and Green = Terrible Passions of humanity
Blue = Spirituality

Knowing these three things, look at “Night CafĂ©” and then look at “Starry Night”.

Van Gogh, 'Night Cafe'

Van Gogh, 'Starry Night'

To me there is a huge difference between liking, “Starry Night” because it’s peaceful and lonely feeling and liking it because you know that the deep blue sky represents spirituality and the yellow stars represent hope and trust. Van Gogh said that stars were places he hadn't been to yet, places he'd be able to visit one day.

So, in a nutshell, that’s why I like art history.

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