Friday, July 23, 2010

National Gallery Visit

Yesterday I made a day trip to the National Gallery in DC. I’m fortunate to live in a place surrounded by natural beauty but, even so, it helps sometimes to refresh the eyes and mind with other kinds of beauty. Yesterday’s outing gave me the chance to see both the beauty and technical achievement of masterful works of art, as well as the beauty of throngs of people enjoying a day in the sunshine in the capital.

Visiting the gallery is difficult in a way. On the one hand there’s great joy in seeing what these great artists of the past have been able to achieve. It’s truly thrilling. So much, in fact, that at one point during my visit a security guard had to ask me to stop singing. I hadn’t even realized that I was singing. On the other hand, though, there’s a kind of pain in seeing these works. So great is my desire to reach that level of artistic skill that it almost hurts to look at them. But the pleasure outweighs the pain, especially since there’s always something new to discover.

Yesterday’s discovery was Monet! I had never looked at one of his pictures in person before. His paintings are unbelievable and they are something that a reproduction can never capture. The paint is layered on so thickly that the works almost move into the realm of sculpture. Up close the pictures are almost pure chaos -beautiful but almost unintelligible. Step back and, and as if by magic, you suddenly have startling order.