Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
I recently received a call from a man who is a devoted fan of my father's art. He remembers this painting from an exhibition many years ago and apparently has kept the memory of it all this time, waiting until he felt he had enough money to buy it. It's called Patsy and the Bridge and it's one of my favorite paintings of my father's. I told the man that I am now Patsy's owner and unfortunately, she's not for sale.
But I understand how he feels.
I also carry images of paintings loved and lost – and some never to be attained at any price. One is an abstract landscape by a local artist/gallery owner that I have been wanting to buy for years. It's expensive. Although, I'm sure if you add up the cost of all the shoes I've purchased over the past twenty years, we'd probably come up with the price of this painting. Still, somehow, I've never been able to plunk down that amount of cash all at once.
The other image is Salvador Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper. I was in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. about fifteen years ago, when I was going down a stairwell to the lower level and there it was. High up on the wall in front of me. A strange place to put it, I thought at first, but looking back, maybe not. It wasn't so much the painting's beauty, nor it's fine craftsmanship, that stopped me in my tracks, although it was certainly both beautiful and finely crafted.
But so is an Eames chair. A Jonathan Adler vase. A Murano glass ashtray. No, the difference between art and craft is that by necessity craft must be both beautiful and functional. But with great art, beauty and functionality are beside the point. Great art enters a realm where craft can never go. It hits you in the gut with its storytelling power, the ability to say something about the human experience in all its forms – sacred and profane, mundane and exalted.
Think about all the great art you've ever seen. Does it make you wonder about who you are? About who we are?