One of the main joys of a visit to Washington D.C. is the National Gallery of Art, near the Capitol Building, on the National Mall. Though I have been there several times, it is always thrilling, and there is never time, nor stamina to see it all.
I love looking at art almost more than anything I can think of. And I love all kinds of art. I feel privileged to have studied art in college, especially art history. Seeing the paintings that I studied, actually hanging before me is, for me, always a revalation. It is not the same to see a painting in a book or a projected image or on the computer monitor.
I have never believed that art must be beautiful. It can be exciting in many ways, that are not what one would call traditionally beautiful. But there is art that is so beautiful that it tightens my throat and makes sudden tears burn behind my eyes. The painting above does that for me. It is by Vermeer, the 17th century Dutch artist—Lady With a Balance. Vermeer is lauded for his delicately lighted interior scenes and luxurious color. My photo does not, of course, do any of this justice. But, I ask you, isn't there something in that soft and luminous face, that speaks? Is that not a real woman from more than three hundred years ago whose essential humanity and quiet beauty live in the paint? Isn't that a miracle of some kind?
The painting, below, by living artist, Cy Twombly, may be at the opposite end of some spectrum from the Vermeer, but was also one of my favorites. I took the photo especially for my friend, June, who has a particular affinity for Twombly. At first glance the work looks, for all the world like a page of graffiti or scribbles, like one might doodle during a boring meeting, but there is intention and symbolism, as well as a tumbling kind of rhythm and energy to the images. I am also intrigued by the smudgy background that serves to create the structure and form of the composition. What looks random is actually a pretty classic compositional form—the S curve.
We did not make it out to see any more art studios on Sunday. Sofia came to visit, instead, which was much more fun. I do hope to go see more this coming weekend. I will be sure to take pictures.