art that moves you (me)
Art for me, as it is for most of us, is a very personal thing; we all see as individuals. We bring our own life experiences to a work of art, it speaks to us or it doesn’t.
Relating to a piece of art can be a very profound experience. It happens rarely and for me, I can count on the one hand the works that have moved me to my core, connected with my soul.
However some works do move me whilst some leave me cold, we see art on many different levels. Sometimes I can appreciate the artistry of the work and would hang it on my wall because aesthetically and emotionally it is pleasing. Sometimes I make no connection at all, and I have to confess if initially, it fails to draw me in, in some way, unless I am interested in the artist’s technique, I spend little time trying.
‘I do not believe that a person of real sensibility ever stands before a picture and, after a long process of analysis, pronounces himself pleased’. We either like at first sight, or not at all. (READ, 1996 (MCMXLVI))p36
Turner has always been an artist whose work I can immerse myself in. I remember taking Bernard my son to a major exhibition of Turner’s work in London in the 1970s; he was I think about seven or eight at the time. It was when his appreciation of art was awakened. His favourite piece was the ‘Fighting Temeraire’ he proudly bought home a poster of it for his bedroom wall.
After that and throughout his life we visited art galleries together. The Tate as it was then, now Tate Britain housed a treasure trove of wondrous works for us to explore, in those days my interests apart from Turner was with the Pre Raphaelites. So I found it very strange when my young son stood for ages in front of Pollock’s ‘summertime’ what was it he saw in it? It took me many years to understand and appreciate Pollock.
That work was for my young son the moment when a piece of art not only moved him but captivated him. After that every time we visited the Tate I knew where I would find him. And to this day three years from losing him, I cannot enter the room where ‘summertime’ is hung; his presence is so palpable in that room, it is now too painful for me to enter. I thought I was teaching him about art; however, he taught me how to see…
Art that moves me
Those moments of total immersion in a work of art are rare and never leave you. The first piece that entrapped me in this way apart from the works of Turner was in the Prado in Madrid, I was and still am enamoured with the Spanish painters and in particular Goya. I had been looking at ‘the black paintings’ and feeling I should go and look at something a bit lighter when wham “Dog Half Submerged’ this painting is not only masterful it is one of the most powerful pieces of work I had ever seen. I was totally captivated, and yes the tears just flowed. Not only could I feel the desperation of the artist the sheer beauty and poignancy was for me, all-encompassing.
That painting will never leave me, I was not only moved by it, but it is also now a part of me. My appreciation of art shifted. It was now clear to me what art, was for me, a transference of experience, of feelings of love, hate, despair, joy, longing add infinitum. Whatever the artist put into it and whatever you bring to it. You the viewer are a part of it. Of course, if it does not that’s fine, walk on and find something that does.
“I will not be an artist until I have created a piece of work that cannot be discussed, only felt.” Steve Abrams
That experience is an exception and has only happened to me twice in my lifetime. On the second occasion, I was in New York, I had gone to New York specifically to see some of the art that is housed in New Yorks wonderful Galleries. In particular, I wanted to see Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselle’s d’Avignon’ in MoMA and De Kooning’s ‘Door to the River’ in the Whitney
the wonderful New York Galleries
Of course whilst there, I took in as much art that New York had to offer, in the time available to me. But I specifically wanted to see these two pieces, and for entirely different reasons. ‘Les Demoiselle’s d’Avignon’ is in terms of art history a very important piece of art. It was the forerunner to modern art it heralded in a new and more ‘creative’ art. So I wanted to see for myself this important piece of work by one of the worlds most prolific and creative artists.
The wonderful imaginative art of the 20th century sprung from this moment in art. I was so glad to be able to stand before this massive piece of creativity. Like most experimental art; it is about the process the materials and sometimes the message. For me it was a fulfilment of, seeing first hand a piece of art history, my interest was academic I had not expected nor did I receive an emotional response to it. But I am very happy to have gone all that way to see it; it would not disappoint any student of art.
Without Picasso’s experimentations would de Kooning have created ‘door to the river’ (debatable) probably not. So when I visited the Whitney I moved through the rooms enjoying the wonderful art on display I was unaware as to where ‘door to the river’ was placed in the Whitney, and walked unprepared into its space. Whammy; I was rooted, I could not move, it was spellbindingly stunning.
art that moves me – connecting to my soul
I realised the attendant had approached me to see if I was all right, I had tears running down my cheek. This painting was all and far, far more than I had anticipated. It was momentous, I was in and a part of, it hadn’t just enticed me in it had drawn me in. I think I now knew how Bernie felt about ‘summertime’
John Hayland said this about his medium: “Paintings are there to be experienced, they are events. They are also to be meditated on and be enjoyed by the senses, to be felt through the eye… Paintings are not to be reasoned with, they are not to be understood. They are to be recognised.” RWA Art Magazine 03 2010 p12
Art can move us in many ways, but that profound connection is a lifetime experience, the only other art form that has and does move me in that way is the Ballet. Seeing Irma Nioradze perform The Swan at The Royal Festival Hall in 2003 had the same effect.
I will never be able to fully share with you those experiences with art that moves me it was personal to me, I have done the best I am able. However, I can only hope you find your own! it is the most fulfilling and unforgettable way to experience art.
related post ‘you do not have to understand art’