Sunday, September 28, 2014

Art is Not What You Think

Pierrot Playing the Guitar - Dali

"Modern artists say their work is not meant to be beautiful.
Is there any doubt they have succeeded?"
~ Scott Burdick

(Please note: Before I get into this post, let's agree that we can disagree about what is art, okay?  After our visit to the Pompidou in Paris last year, my post practically caused an international incident because some people didn't like my opinions. I'm talking art here, not kids or pets or anything really important.  Thank you for your cooperation.)

"If you turn your head sideways, maybe you can understand it."

 Mike decided I have not had enough culture in the almost-nine weeks I've been in Europe, so he dragged me to El Prado and the Museo Reina Sofia today.  El Prado is Spain's national museum and houses a huge collection of European art that dates from a few centuries BC (some sculptures) to the early 19th century.  Reina Sofia, located a few blocks away, features more modern art. 

Still Life - Dali
We bought our Prado tickets yesterday and arranged to be there first thing in the morning since our "invitation" to see the El Greco exhibit was at 10, the time the museum opened.  We arrived about 25 minutes early, and by the time the museum opened at 10, hundreds of people queued behind us.  As a Spanish major, I had studied a lot of Spanish painters, and it was pretty exciting to see their work in person. I always like El Greco and Velazquez, but Goya's work (except for the Maja Desnuda and Vestida) usually gave me nightmares.  We weren't permitted to use cameras as I found out when I tried to take a photo of Maja Vestida.

"NO fotos, Señora," yelled a guard. "NO FOTOS."  I jumped about five feet (luckily not falling down again).

"Ok, sorry. I didn't know,"  I replied as I put the phone away.  The guard glared at me.

All the photos in this post, therefore, are from Reina Sofia which does allow photos except in the Guernica exhibit (of course).

After lunch, we headed to Reina Sofia and found out Sunday afternoons are free. In addition to a huge Picasso exhibit that includes Guernica, the museum had a special exhibit by British artist Richard Hamilton.  They also have a good number of works by Dali and other modern European artists.

I agree that I do not understand Dali's work, and truthfully, I am not going to try to understand it because I am no longer in college and don't have to appreciate crap art just so Joanne Latavo gives me an "A."  I want to know why a plaster cast of a foot, an aluminum foil glove, a crappy high heel, and some other objects are considered art.  My suitcase should be on exhibit.  It has all of that and more, and my stuff is clean.

Trying to figure out a Dali

All that said,  I've never understood the fascination with Dali.  To begin with, he was a creepy little man. Some of his work is okay, but some of it is downright bizarre.  I like the painting—Pierrot Playing the Guitar—at the top of this post, but some of his other stuff gives me the creeps (in addition to nightmares).  Melting clocks and guitars and such are plain weird, and I invite anyone who thinks otherwise to tell me why you think they are not. Please. Help me understand what you're seeing that I'm not seeing.

Richard Hamilton

Moving on.  Richard Hamilton, a multi-faceted artist if I've ever seen one.  He's famous for his paintings,  photography, collages, and more.  His early work started with basic form drawings, but he evolved.  Someone, ManRay if I remember correctly, gave Hamilton a polaroid camera, and he started letting people take photos of him with it.  Then he started doing self-portraits that he embellished with paint and such (see photos below).

Self-portrait - Richard Hamilton

"What's the art in this?" Mike asked me.

"Beats me," I answered.  Thank God we both agree.

Self-portrait - Richard Hamilton
 I love good photography.  I even like some bad photography if it tells a story.  The only story I can get out of these self-portraits by Hamilton is that he doesn't like his looks.  Either that, or down deep, he wants to be a graffiti artist.

"I've seen better graffiti than this in Genova," I told Mike.  It's true, too. We saw graffiti on posters and signs all over the city, and the graffiti made more sense than this.

Self-portrait - Richard Hamilton
"I'm going to work on a few self-portraits when I get back to the flat," I announced as we walked home tonight.

"You don't have paint," Mike informed me.  I rolled my eyes.

"Duh," I said. "I'll use Photoshop.  It's faster and cleaner, anyway."

"And what will you do with them after that?" Mike wanted to know.

"I'm going to put them on the blog and sell them as art," I told him.

He snorted at me.

Self-portrait - Richard Hamilton

 My husband actually snorted at me.  I'll show him.  I'm submitting this to the next call for art submissions that I find. . . unless someone wants to buy it before then.  What do you say?

Self-portrait - Cutler
Starting bid: €.01

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