Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Art appreciation

Today, I took a sort of nauseated spin around the art institute, not because what I saw was nauseating (well, I'm not crazy about their art before the 19th century), but because I've been feeling sick for a week now. So, I'm standing in front of this Fantin-Latour and a guard sidles up next to me and says, "Oh, they painted this real nice, didn't they?" I used to have this opinion that museum guards, who stand in front of art for 8 hours a day, were an untapped resource of art criticism and insight, but in every interaction I've had with them, that theory has proved incorrect. So I'm like, "They?" and then we had a talk about how Fantin skillfully painted glass. Then the guard told me what she really liked was the dollhouse downstairs. I had actually forgotten about the miniatures until several weeks ago and I went down to have a look at them, only to encounter the most idiotic group of open-mouthed gum chewing nincompoops I've ever seen. I thought to myself, "They should get rid of these stupid dollhouses."

So, then I walked around some more, and I was tagging along tours like I always do - I heard this high school kid shout in front of the El Greco Madonna, "How much did that thing COST?" His instructor bizarrely replied, "A bazillion dollars." I hate to see that kind of ignorance, but then I tack on behind this group of kids who I swear couldn't have been older than 6 years old, and the docent is showing them a Dutch still life, and she actually says to them, "As you can see, the black background really pushes the composition to the fore, which is quite typical of 16th century Flemish painting."

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