I wore headphones to the museum today. I didn't waste time on paintings that didn't interest me. The headphones blocked out distracting conversation and the echo of my heals. I spent about 35 minutes wandering around and 20 sitting in a 3rd floor chair that overlooked the crowded street, Klyde Warren Park, and the Sculpture Garden.
Thought 1: Within a gallery, everything in view is created. Many museums are works of art themselves. The choice of font and color used in the "out on loan" post card left in place of a display item is a creation. The display cubes and colors are similarly, a creation. What art is and isn't is the topic of many books, but to really see that there is very little difference between art objects and intentionally created none-art objects is a great experience.
Thought 2: Before photography, paintings must have been amazing. How else could one see a place second-hand like the ocean, a jungle, or the mountains and really understand? I imagine people who had never seen the ocean crowding around a painting of it. With photography, painters are still admired for their skill, but what function do they fulfill for viewers unless the image is altered in a surreal or abstract way?
Thought 3: Most artwork comes from the minds of a small group of people. Even a movie, comprised of hundreds or more inputs is still miniscule compared to the art of life-- the view from the window. This is one reason artists must "steal" from reality and why the best works of fiction and fantasy take decades to create. The decades of manpower behind the single perspective shown in an in-depth fantasy movie are matched in seconds on the street.
Thought 4: Combining these thoughts, I realized that everything in view from the window was in art piece created from the wills of hundreds of artists. The corporate skyscrapers; the sculpted park, planned to the last shrub; the pedestrians' choice of outfit, the outfits themselves created by designers. These were moments of art more complex than any in the museum and they would never be recreated.
Why then do we need museums? I think it's the same reason we need designated art. For the frame. The museum building itself acts as a frame and says, "Look at me, I'm an important aspect of society. You can come here, look out the window, and think about art." Ideas like the above ensue.
Maybe we'll eventually move beyond this.
Reluctant Chauffeur: Thoughts from the Philadelphia Museum of Art
**The above painting is "Calle de Gabino Barreda", by Gunther Gerzso, one of my favorites from the Dallas Museum of Art.**