Visit a Museum – You gotta be kidding me!
What moves our mind? A poet’s words generate images and sensations. Our bodies move instinctively to a particular song. A painting takes us on a voyage to some serene place we have never been. A sculpture captures beauty and balance we were never aware of. A building initiates thoughts of safety or opulence and relaxes our defenses.
An artist sees the world from the inside out. The resulting work is an expression of his emotions, a byproduct as he searches to understand his soul and what is happening around him. Michelangelo paints the Sistine chapel enduring excruciating pain, living in poverty, and suffering the demeaning attitude of the Pope. Dante writes his Divina Comedia in exile from his beloved Florence. To share his grief and frustration he writes in Vulgaris so the normal people could understand and the Italian language is born substituting Latin in a few short years.
The great ones withstand the test of time. Just as most artists were not appreciated by the masses of their day, we should not expect to be touched by any particular work of art. What is beautiful is personal, and may change over time as life molds us through our experiences. We also should not feel that something is marvelous just because others think it to be so. Nor should we think we have to like some old painting just because Leonardo da Vinci painted it. The great works that withstand time will touch us when our time is right, when we are ready and when we can gain from it. That is the gift of the masters, their ability to express the emotions of the soul, from the inside out.
I write about museums, artists and buildings as a part of travel because the original is always better than the reproduction. I did not appreciate art as a youngster, I saw no need for it, and certainly did not want to waste precious time going to see this or that show. I only received one grade inferior an A- in university. One class, my first year I was generously awarded a D in Humanities 101.
After several years in Italy and numerous tribulations I went to see a friend, Umberto Lago Suardi. His family is nobility but only he and his sister remain and they live in a castle outside of Bergamo. We entered the small church on the property and I was overwhelmed. Murals adorned the walls of the church, painted by Giotto, and I was moved. It turns out that this little town, 24 km to the northeast of Bergamo, was a customs point under the rule of Federico and Giotto di Bondone had spent many years in the area.
Suddenly, I realized the great opportunity I had missed in college and I began reading everything I could find about art, painters, sculptures, architects and artisans of every kind. Over the years it has helped change my perspective on life, on what is important, and what is not. It happened by chance, perhaps you will visit one of the places I have seen and the same will happen to you.
Tags: Art and Culture Renaissance Travel Italian Museums Italy