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The Persistence Of The Love Of Art

A lifetime of art for art's sake

By Adam EvansonPublished 11 months ago 3 min read
The Persistence Of The Love Of Art
Photo by Jené Stephaniuk on Unsplash

Way, way back in 1981, after almost fifteen years of one dead-end job after another, due entirely to a lost education, I started a degree in Art and Design History. I have to say this course of action completely transformed my life.

In particular, the art history was nothing less than pure, unadulterated joy. This was, in no small way, made possible by the fact that we had a group of amazing tutors. One I remember with a great deal of affection was Richard Kendal. Richard went out of his way to make me feel comfortable as a mature student, in a room full of spotty teenagers.

As a teacher, we were lucky to have Richard. One of the things that we did, to appreciate what art was all about, was to start drawing and painting ourselves. It was like being back at school, but with guidance from an expert. Richard was not only an art history teacher, he was also an artist in his own right. And, the fact that he was fast becoming a leading authority on nineteenth-century French art, was not lost on us. Already he was a known writer on the subject.

In later years Richard became a curator for, amongst others, the Clarke Institute in the United States. He was also a well-known art historian, and, as a result, the go-to man if ever the authenticity of a work of art from his area of speciality came into question.

Above all, I remember Richard for helping us to really look at a piece of art, and not just in books or on a projected screen. This entailed going out in the field, to art museums and galleries in London, Paris, Manchester and Liverpool, to name but a few.

The thing about visiting an art gallery is you can finally see a work of art in the flesh. There are lots of surprising discoveries to be made, with some works of art a great deal smaller or larger than you could ever have imagined. For example, we know from the dimensions printed at the bottom of a print how big a Mark Rothko is, but nothing can quite prepare you for the effect of seeing the real thing.

If you can, go to the Tate Gallery in London where they have some enormous Rothko's. Take a seat and stare at one of his works awhile. I personally felt a very deep emotional response from somewhere in the depths of my soul.

Or, if you are ever in Paris, make sure to visit the Musee d'Orsay to see some of the finest examples of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings. In Van Gogh's case, it is not the size that impresses, it is something else you don't get from a print in a book. It is the thick impasto of the painting that pleasantly surprises the viewer. Just from looking up close, one can see the paintings have a certain thickness to them. It gives the works a certain three-dimensional tactility, to the point that you feel like you could reach out and pluck a petal off a flower.

If you ever find yourself in Japan, be sure to pay a visit to the DIC Sawakara Museum of Art, no more than an hour and a half from Tokyo. Set in thirty hectares of luscious parkland, it is more than well worth a visit for the Museum, the restaurant and the sprawling, beautifully kept, parkland. There is even an impressively large Henry Moor sculpture at the bottom end of the park.

In the museum itself, one standout work of art for me is Renoir's 'Bather'. What is so striking about this painting is the soft warmth of the figure. The flesh tones are so softly and beautifully graduated that it has a three-dimensionality that makes you want to reach out and stroke the woman's skin. You can almost feel the peachy, softness of her skin with your eyes.

I hope this short round of museums around the world inspires you to venture out, away from libraries, books and classrooms, into the real world, even if it is only to your local gallery down the street.

PS: I chose the above painting so you can see what I mean by a thick impasto.


About the Creator

Adam Evanson

I Am...whatever you make of me.

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