I visit a lot of artists and galleries, every week. This is thanks to the Internet. It is one of the Internet’s greatest achievements, I think: that creative people all round the world can make virtual visits to and share each other’s work and philosophies. Such interaction would be impossible physically.
In the early days, there was much head shaking at the idea that looking at paintings and sculptures online could replace seeing art face-to-face.
It’s true that visiting an art exhibition is not the same as looking at art online. The sensory perceptions are different. I recall, many years ago, visiting Tate Britain and coming across one of Picasso’s Weeping Women. He did a series, the theme coming out of his great work Guernica – a response to atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.
Weeping Woman was painted using cubist techniques, especially in the presentation of different angles/views of subject matter simultaneously. Cubism grew out of the need to find new ways of explaining form, however, in view of new scientific discoveries like Relativity, which showed how space and time were interlinked. In Weeping Woman Picasso is using cubist techniques for a different purpose: to express emotion, a state of being.
I must have stood and looked at this painting for a long time, because it came about that all the different angles and views of the weeping woman’s face began to move in front of my eyes – to quarrel with each other, if you like. Just as when someone loses control and begins to cry, the face of Weeping Woman began to work. (The features were Dora Maar’s, Picasso’s mistress between 1936-45). The effect was like what happens with a flip book – you flip the edges of the pages with your thumb and the images turn into a movie. More remarkable – as I stood watching this curious phenomenon – this face sprung to life – I began also to hear the woman weeping.
I’ve never forgotten this encounter with a painting. And it came out of my physical engagement with the art work. This can’t happen looking at art online, though advancements in virtual reality are changing this. One day we may experience art in a far deeper way with the aid of virtual reality, than in real life encounters. I hope I’m still alive to experience this!
I meant to make a different point with this post, but this will have to do for today. Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting episode of NaBloPoMo.