I thought I’d point out this wonderful article by Michael Kimmelman that discusses his observations about the way people look at art. In fact you might extrapolate these observations into the larger culture. As we’ve been saying here at Henri, the lens is king and it has changed how we interact with just about everything.

“Cameras replaced sketching by the last century; convenience trumped engagement, the viewfinder afforded emotional distance and many people no longer felt the same urgency to look. It became possible to imagine that because a reproduction of an image was safely squirreled away in a camera or cell phone, or because it was eternally available on the Web, dawdling before an original was a waste of time, especially with so much ground to cover.”

He later goes on to make the reference to “slow looking” a concept that I absolutely loathe. Because someone concentrates on something specific to discover its meanings does not equate to slowness! Concentration is the key – how about “focused looking” or “intense study” or “deliberate engagement” – anything but “slow looking.” There is nothing slow about vision, especially vision involved in discernment – absolutely NOTHING.

“The art historian T. J. Clark, who during the 1970s and ’80s pioneered a kind of analysis that rejected old-school connoisseurship in favor of art in the context of social and political affairs, has lately written a book about devoting several months of his time to looking intently at two paintings by Poussin. Slow looking, like slow cooking, may yet become the new radical chic.”

Radical maybe. “Radical chic” – I doubt.

One thought on “Observation…

  1. I observed recently “near” the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, that a close look is not supported by the museum, as the closest distance one can reach to the painting is approx. 6 or 7 meters, so it’s appearance remains very diffusive and vague, as if our imagination is more requested than the real close look.
    Here you see how close we could come http://www.flickr.com/photos/caucasus/3730894716/ so in fact its better to watch it virtual on screen on Louvre’s website, what a baloney ;-()

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