How much should I tip the driver?
I know how much for a pizza. But art? Wait. They don’t really bring art to me or to anybody else, for that matter.
“They” is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, more of an “it” than a they. What they do is stay open, most of the time, so I can go in and look at the art. I grew up in a time when an art museum did not need a slogan, the way GE or State Farm did.
Some of the art is sculpture and paintings by Dead White Men. But it happens to fulfill an aesthetic that defines beauty. There are standards. They express ideas, some of them related to Christianity, like Bible stories or portraits of saints.
Sometimes the secular art depicts soup cans, or horses, or pictures of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. But Hey, it’s art and I don’t want to look like a rube that has Leonardo’s Last Supper reproduced on black velvet hanging on the living room wall in my double wide.
Art is what the Museum can afford to “acquire”, which is Museumspeak for buying a work of art or borrowing a work from another museum. Let’s not forget accepting art from rich people as a gift.
Kinda creepy that within walking distance of the Museum, protesters destroyed one of the most beautiful urban boulevards in America, because it had statues of Confederate heroes . Destroying what disturbs you is what tyrants do, or the mobs hired by tyrants and plutocrats to fulfill their wishes.
Right now the mob does its destroying outside the walls of The Museum. But how long before all those religious paintings, rendered by Dead White Christian Men will need to be removed? They’re in a state-owned Museum after all. We could make room for more soup cans, or non- heteronormative art that is transpositive, ya know?
What happens when somebody decides that the art being brought to people like me is no longer acceptable? Then what ? Do we store it, sell it, or burn it? The Nazis seized, sold or destroyed the art they didn’t like. Now when aesthetics is made secondary to politics, like what Hitler and, later, Mao did, we can watch one more of our freedoms die. That particular freedom is the freedom to think for ourselves, to decide what is good or bad art. Great art has been made depicting despicable ideas. Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willen (Triumph Of The Will) immediately comes to mind.
We have to find beauty and even truth in what we don’t always understand. I guess that’s what makes it art, instead of just pretty pictures.