Friday, March 29, 2013

L'Art Pour L'Art Pour L'Art

Have you ever wondered why you like to listen to music, read books, watch movies and even are willing to wait for hours in a queue just to see an art exhibition?

L'Empire Des Lumières # 1

I know very well how wonderful it feels to be creative and I guess so do you (unless you are one of those artists/people with creative hobbies who are at their creative best when feeling depressed).

L’Art Pour L’Art Pour L’Art #4

But what about the other side of the coin?  The viewer's or listener's side. What do we get from looking at the "Mona Lisa", listening to "Bohemien Rapsody", reading "The Da Vinci Code" or watching "Avatar"? Why do we appreciate and consume art? 

L’Art Pour L’Art Pour L’Art #6

Bono, frontman of Irish rock band U2 once said that "the job of art is to chase away ugliness". Nice words - but if that was really the role of art, how can we explain the fact that seemingly "ugly" paintings like e.g. those by Jackson Pollock can be worth millions of dollars to galleries (while in the view of an interested buyer only five, as was the story of a woman who actually bought a Pollock that was mistakenly priced five dollars)?

And what about Munch's "The Scream" and the late works of Pablo Picasso Is this really art that chases ugliness away? 

L’Art Pour L’Art Pour L’Art #1

According to American neuropsychiatrist and Nobel Prize laureate Eric Kandel, the Vienna School of Art History in the 1930s emphasised that the function of the modern artist was not to convey beauty, but to convey new truths.

Kandel, Eric: "The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present", The Random House, New York, 2012).

L’Art Pour L’Art Pour L’Art #3

What exactly these truths are, depends to a large part on the beholder, the reader, the listener.  And that is you.  Experiments have also shown that these truths - your reactions to a work of art - are influenced by what you are told about it.  In other words:  You are more likely to respond positively when you are told a painting is a genuine work by Rembrandt, even if it is not (read more about this here).

Merci De Faire Ma Chambre

This digression still does not answer the question of why we like and consume art, and why we choose to decorate the rooms of our apartments with paintings.

L’Art Pour L’Art Pour L’Art #2

In his blog post "Why do we appreciate art?", Surya Ramkumar says that while enjoying a work of art, we lose ourselves in a tiny self created world, where there is just us and the work before us.  I agree, and I would add that this self created world is either somebody else's reality or my own.  I consider this apparently trivial addition important because in the first case I am looking at another's reality for distraction whereas in the second case I introspect and want to intensify a certain positive or negative emotion that I am currently under.

 Towers Tour The Louvre

Therefore it seems to me that the main reason why we like art is because it helps us escape our reality. Or gets us to really dive into it.

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