Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 13 Photo: Art

I consider myself reasonably cultured: I’m genuinely fond of most literary classics, I’m relatively well-versed in – and enjoy - classical music, and to say that I love performing arts of all sorts would be an understatement. But when it comes to art, at least art in the sense of paintings, sculpture, etc., I must admit to having rather plebian tastes.

I took a class in college called “The Arts in Concert” that was a combination of music, drama, art, and architecture appreciation that gave me a small degree of understanding of art. I learned a bit about composition, painting styles, what to look for in a piece of art. But when it comes right down to it, my evaluation of most pieces of art still comes down to either I like it or I don’t, and I can’t always tell you why.

Generally, I like art that is realistic. I prefer da Vinci to Picasso (with the exception of his non-cubist works, such as “Woman in White”). I love Michelangelo’s “David.” Jan van Eyck’s “Arnolfini Portrait.” Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.” And yet I’m also a big fan of Jackson Pollock, although Mondrian leaves me cold. There’s no particular logic to what I like in art and what I don’t. (This will come as no surprise to my husband, who coined the expression “Sandy Logic” very early in our marriage.) So the artwork that I have chosen for my home does not fall into a single category.

Actually, choosing artwork for our home was a bit of a struggle for my husband and me, because our senses of what art is are very different. The painting over his fireplace was (and still is) a brightly colored abstract painting of musicians. The painting over my bed was a large, realistic flower blossom. And when we redecorated our bedroom right after our honeymoon, it took us nearly a full year to find a single painting that worked in that room that we both liked.

But the piece of art that is perhaps the most special to me in our home is a small stone carving of a pair of dancers that sits on our mantel.

I don’t remember the exact gift-giving occasion (it might have been our first Valentine’s Day together), but I do recall that it was a gift to my now-husband while we were engaged and taking ballroom dance lessons together in anticipation of our wedding and honeymoon. I knew I wanted to give him a sculpture representing a pair of lovers, and I pored through pages and pages of online art catalogs to find exactly the right piece. This piece has such beautiful lines and such a beautiful shape. It’s somewhat abstract yet it’s perfectly clear what it is intended to represent. The figures are separate yet moving in synch. The stone itself is nearly pure white, but with a few tiny imperfections that only serve to enhance its beauty. I love both the symbolism of the piece and its pure aesthetics. It is art.

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