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,
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
Like most everyone else – that is, except probably for the actual actors and staff of Game of Thrones (hereafter GOT) – I have only watched the penultimate episode “The Bells”. So I know no more about how the series ends than anyone else. Least of all do I know who ends up sitting on the Iron Throne. That question presumably is answered in the final-season episode next week, as this is written (14 May). But if the Westerosi elite were to ask my counsel about who is best suited and equipped to sit on the Throne, I could recur to some ancient Greek texts, specifically Plato’s Republic, for some very wise advice.
But first a solemn
warning: If you have not seen this next-to-last
episode of GOT, then read no farther,
because reading past this paragraph will almost certainly