Gustave Klimt, The Kiss
Caravaggio, The Calling of St. Mathew
Thanks to research in the study of emotions and their impact on the immune system, we now know that taking time to view art that moves us in a positive manner can produce physical and emotional benefits.
A beautiful painting, drawing, sculpture or photograph that draws us in has the ability to transport us to a place of wellbeing. Solace and peace are found in the colors, shapes and forms.
Art that speaks to us, eliciting memories, emotions and feelings, seems to demand a more intimate response to it.
A friend called me the other day to tell me about her encounter with Klimt's “The Kiss” in Vienna, Austria at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere museum. She had seen it countless times prior in print, yet the impact of its original beauty took her by surprise. She felt absorbed by its presence, leaving it only to return over and over again to experience that bliss once more.
This is a relationship that I call Art Love. It can happen with a piece you know well or with one that you have never encountered before.
Consider a painting that you have studied at length. You might know the artist's story, where the painting is located and its source of inspiration. You are familiar with the contextual forces that shaped the artist and work. You understand the political, cultural, and social environment of the time. You like the work, are curious about it, yet, when you see it for the first time, in its original form, it moves you in an unexpected way. You are captivated.
On the other hand, Art Love can easily take hold with a painting you know nothing or little about. It is art love at first sight. At first glance, you are inspired by it, leading you to want to know everything about it, visiting with it any chance you get.
This happened to me with Caravaggio's The Calling of St. Mathew. I first viewed it, by accident, when I was quite young, art history lectures yet to come. Winter meant that tourists were scarce so I had the Contarelli Chapel in the Church San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome to myself. A five hundred lire coin illuminated the chapel. With the light, this painting seemed to take me to a place of peace and excitement all at once. The energy, the contrast, the detail and the fact that it was mine, uninterrupted, was magnificent.
Revisiting that painting, even in my mind, continues to evoke the same feelings.
Art Love; I recommend it.
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