Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Art Appreciation

Nearly this time last year, I was dragging someone to the art museum to look at William Blake etchings with me. Given that the exhibit was my idea, I felt sort of ridiculous about the fact that I somehow restlessly, impatiently finished looking at the pieces too quickly, and had to wait several minutes for the person I had gone with to finish looking at them, too.

I wonder if other people have this problem, of having a genuine enthusiasm about art and being able to stare at prints in books for a long while, but sometimes feeling a strange pressure when in an art museum and in front of a painting, feeling like a certain amount of time is supposed to be spent admiring it, or a that there's a certain reaction you are obligated to have, etc. Performance is I guess the word I'm looking for.

I remember once planning a trip to the Hirshhorn with a boy who hoped to eventually be able to make a living off the strangely staged, cryptic photographs he took. Instead we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. It felt sort of scary at the time, to suddenly find myself in an art museum with an artist whose work I didn't understand, looking at pieces of artwork I didn't understand. I remember finishing looking at a particular photograph too quickly, and he smiled one of those smiles that isn't really a smile at all, and said I seemed to be having an awful time. It wasn't true, but I remember thinking, grimly, psychically, that it wasn't going to work with us, he wasn't possibly going to be able to handle me as an only friend.

The real point of this entry, though, is this, and I wonder (worry) about it maybe more than I should: Where do people go when they stop updating their journals, anyway?