Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Life in Art

Woman Reading by Mary Cassatt. Who doesn't love these?
Some of the most important objects by which I track my life are works of art (which are things, after all). Where I've been, what I've seen, what has interested me, who I was with, etc.

I've been very fortunate to have traveled a good amount and to have seen some of the most amazing art collections in the world (living in New York is good for that too).  When traveling in Europe with a friend a few years ago, we even used our art history class's syllabus of important art works as a sort of checklist. Paris? Check David, Ingres, and Delacroix.  Madrid?  Check Velazquez and Goya.  Florence?  Check Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Da Vinci.  Etc.  Discovering these masterworks was really exciting and important to us at the time, as we were eager to take what we were seeing in class out to the larger world.  To live what we'd already learned.

Now over a year out of college, back from another grand adventure in Europe, my perspective has certainly changed.  Art is still a central focus, but I'm trying to steer it towards my future.  Although I'll always love art history, I'm trying to find a more practical niche for this interest.  It's less about what I can learn and absorb from around me than what I can do.  I find the art I'm drawn to now is the ordinary and accessible: the art I see in the streets of New York or on the internet, or the crafts I make and discover on Etsy.

But then it's fun to rediscover works of art I have encountered in the past and reminisce.  Recently I started interning at a company that archives images, and though I am charged with a somewhat tedious task of sorting transparencies (which is how they copy images), it can be fun to discover works that I know or have seen in person or otherwise have a connection to.  Some examples:

Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch, which I experienced (yes, it's an experience) at the Prado in Madrid
Four Ages of Man by Valentin de Boulogne, which I had seen in my college's museum
The Last Judgement by Van Der Weyden, which I stumbled upon in Beaune, in Burgundy, France

Hopefully there will be many more exciting discoveries to come! But maybe not too many; I would happily cast some of these memories in order to move from the seeing to the doing phases...

Are there any objects--art or otherwise--through which you can track important moments in your life?


  1. I will never forget the moment when I finally got to lay my eyes on David, in Florence. (among other things I finally got to see in Italy and elsewhere). I had wanted to go all my life, then when I was diagnosed with cancer, and ultimately told I only had 6-12 months to live, I decided if I could get myself out of the hospital I would somehow finally do some of those things on my 'list'. That was one of them. I don't even have words to explain it, but I will never forget it. :)

  2. Wow, such an inspiring story! Thank you for sharing!

  3. The last judgement, what a beautiful scene! I don't know i have so nice picture in beaune, next door to me!