Every several years or so, perhaps every decade or so, a work of art captures my emotions and imagination, and sticks in my memory, even though it may be several years between viewings – assuming I ever see the original of the work at all. One such is Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party; another is Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox; another, Picasso’s Guernica; still another, Edouard Manet’s The Old Musician. I have never seen the originals of the Rembrandt and the Picasso. I know them only from reproductions. But they haunt me. I recently discovered another such image while visiting the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC: Patricia Cronin’s Memorial to a Marriage (hereafter Memorial ).
Memorial is a bronze sculpture, cast from a marble original, depicting two women lovers,
I recently told my Beguine editor, Terri Stewart, that, because I regarded the re-election of Trump as quite likely, I considered politics a dead subject for leftists / progressives, at least for the near- and medium-term future, and that I would henceforth write about science, art, philosophy, in other words, anything except politics. I had every intention of abiding by that resolution until I read a column by Hugh Hewitt in the Washington Post of April 27 exulting in his prediction – which, to repeat, is probably accurate – that Trump would not only win the election in 2020, but that the election would not even be “close” (Hewitt’s word, not mine). The reasons Hewitt cites for that prediction, while factually accurate, go straight to the heart of what it means to be a nation – and,
Would someone please answer the following question for me: Why do Americans – actually, I think Westerners generally, but I will stick with Americans – believe art is something that must be approached so … well … seriously? With most art, most Americans seem to believe that, when looking at a painting or a piece of sculpture or seeing a play or listening to a piece of music, they are obligated, on pain of being branded as culture-phobic philistines, to wear a facial expression that announces to the world Pity me! I am dying of terminal hemorrhoids!
Well, before anyone makes any cracks about that remark, I will back up a step or two and say that, yes, to be sure, some works of art are explicitly intended to evoke play, laughter, and light-hearted dalliance. A good example is