What does art do?

Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

What does art do for you?  Does it inspire?  Make you smile?  Push you forward?  Make you happy?  Make you sad?  Make you crazy???

And by “art” I don’t mean just painting, but sculpture, cinema, theater, and of course writing.  And I ask both you as a consumer and as a creator.  An art enthusiast and an artist.

Dale Peck, a novelist and critic, asked:

And isn’t that what art does?  Transforms you, in your eyes, and in the eyes of people who look upon you?  Locates you at the beginning of a journey filled with possibility rather than at the end of the road?

Here, he was talking about music.  And the context is a love story.  But music is art, certainly.  And I can see that.  Art, good art, has a timeless quality.  Transports and transforms.  I have become lost in a painting.  A song.  I have fallen in love with a woman painted years and years before my parents’ parents were born.  And I have fallen in love with a song, and assigned those feelings to a person, the real love for the feeling of the song, the person just a coincidental object for those sentiments.  Those relationships never last, but the song always does.

Does art fill you up, or leave you empty?  After experiencing good art, I feel both energized and drained.  Like I could go forward and create something at least as lovely.  That I could never come half as close.

True art captures sentiment and feeling, pure emotions on canvas, on paper, on sound waves.  I love it!

12 thoughts on “What does art do?

  1. When I was in NY, an editor took me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She knew a lot about art. She would walk up to an usher and say something like, “Excuse me, where are the Flemish masters, dates_____” and then she’d give the range of maybe of a decade.

    “What do you think of this one?” she asked me a I looked at another fat baby from the Renaissance.

    I had no idea how to talk about it, not like I can about books, and maybe even music.

    “Oh, just be with it, she responded.

    I was bored one minute later and said “I heard there were a bunch of suits of armor here. Can we go see those?”

    I’m pretty good at describing why I don’t like a piece of art, but I’m clumsy when it comes to telling someone why I like it.

  2. I feel inspired being around it. I think I could do some good writing in an art museum.

    I also got in trouble for kissing in one once. That was fun.

    I’m not on a Flemish Masters relationship with art either, but I do like some of it. I also think some of it looks like accidental splotches, such that I sometimes wonder whether they accidentally put the artist’s drop cloths on display by accident. So I am not one of these sophisticated art lovers, but I do love it.

  3. The naked fat baby angels with manly faces just creep me out. Ew. I’m not inspired or moved in any way (other than possibly a gag reflex.) I’m mostly inspired by hard work, not splotches or some kind of blob I’m supposed to interpret. When I visited Rome last year I was endlessly inspired by the fabulous sculptures (most of which I couldn’t tell you who created it or what it is called) intricate architecture, etc..

    What ‘I’ consider ‘art’ fills me up. Much of what ‘others’ call ‘art’ leaves me with a blank look on my face.

  4. I loved Rome. My daughter and I spent 10 days in Italy.

    I really enjoyed every city I visited–Rome, Pisa and The Vatican–but my favorite place -BY FAR – was Lucca. I loved every inch of it. It is a lovely pedestrian town, filled with fabulous food and charming locals, and surrounded by really cool medieval walls. We were there last March for Italy’s 150th anniversary, and had so much fun joining in the festivities.

    The food was quite an experience too. Believe it or not, I had the best fried chicken and vegetables I’ve ever tasted in my life. That’s a HUGE statement coming from a southern girl!

    My husband and I are planning to visit Barga (near Lucca) to celebrate our anniversary this summer. I can’t wait – but also can’t imagine liking it better than Lucca. 😉

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