We had an excellent docent at the NC Museum of Art today. He suggested that on each visit to the museum one look at the art through a different filter. Look at how portraiture changes through the years, look at how artists employ perspective over time, look at the use of light and shadow.
For example, today we viewed several depictions of the Madonna.
- The Byzantine Madonna and Child were painted on a gold background. The Madonna was holding the Christ Child, who was clearly the most important figure. There was little perspective; the images were “flat” and human features inaccurate (the forehead missing, the nose too long).
- Moving forward in time, the background was no longer gold. The images had perspective and shape, but little “life.”
- Again moving forward the light was even and consistent throughout the painting. The Madonna was holding but not necessarily “engaged” with the Child.
- Then the light became focused somewhat on the Madonna but still mostly on the Child. The Madonna was not only holding the Child but was also engaged in some interaction.
- And a final version showed the Madonna alone, without the Child, marking (I suppose) the beginning of veneration of the Virgin Mary herself.
Now, please let it be said that I am no expert on art history or the Madonna, so my descriptions may be imprecise, but you get the gist of it.
I love to visit the art museum and revisit familiar art. I found this an excellent suggestion to enhance understanding and enjoyment over time.
A mindfulness exercise, yes? 🙂