Faithful readers may recall that I am inordinately fond of visiting museums, and the wealth of (free) museums in Washington DC is one of the reasons I love living here. I realized though that my enthusiasm is based recognizing and validating what I'd learned about, specifically from my art history classes using Janson's History of Art, rather than trusting my own judgement as to what I like and don't like.
I had inklings of this tendency whenever I went to a museum and immediately rush to the "highlights" or "best of" so that I can check off that I've seen a famous work of art. I did experience some moments of joy, like peering at Icarus' upturned legs in Breughel's painting, but that followed the small triumph of actually locating A Famous Painting.
I didn't really think about this though until I visited the National Museum of Women in the Arts, where I immediately gravitated toward...Frida Kahlo. Because she's famous. And I'd heard of her. And I hadn't heard of many of the other artists in the museum. And so I was forced, finally, to rely on my own judgement of what was good (for me) and not good (for me). It was a strange feeling, but ultimately a liberating one.
On May 5th, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Next time you're in Southern California, visit Laguna Beach. Lots of small galleries to check out within short walks of each other, plenty of artists you've never heard of, opportunity to see stuff up close and see how your sense of aesthetics works away from the comparison to known qualities. It's interesting to see the juxtaposition of the readily available tacky stuff patronized by wealthy but tasteless Orange Countians alongside the more interesting, funky, creative work of smaller artists seeking sugar daddies with better taste.