Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Kathy and I had a date to the Virginia Historical Society and to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. They are side-by-side in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

While poking around the modern art exhibit, it occurred to us that a lot of the photos we were looking at could have been taken by us, but we could not have written the outlandish verbiage that accompanied each work. Is that verbiage what makes it art?

Then another thought occurred to me later over dinner. If I look at a piece, and I don't understand it without (or maybe even with) an explanation, is it still art? Like a joke that has to be explained, is it still funny?

I was far more impressed by the ancient art, up to 5000 years old. It is very difficult to fathom what 5000 years is. Human history has only been recorded for one or a couple additional millenia. It's 50 centuries.... 500 decades. I was born only about 4 decades ago, or about 8/10% of the time in question. I was surprised at how well the paintings on the Grecian urns had survived. The urns had clearly been carefully re-assembled from shards, and the paint work touched up on the seams, but this was only visible on close inspection.

I don't feel as old now that I have been among 5 millenia of art. That wasn't the artists' intention, I'm certain, but it is a nice by-product.

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