Good Art?

by wjohngalloway

michelangelo_pietaAlex and I were having a long discussion about art, largely prompted by my forthcoming visit to Amsterdam and it’s excellent Van Gogh Museum. At 15 years of age he framed his question simplistically…. “What’s your favourite bit of art you’ve seen?”
Well. intellectually that’s a question that could evoke an answer that lasts for hours. On a visceral, emotional level though it’s a question with a simple two part answer.
As a muscian I’ve always apprecited the visual arts but never really got them. In 2000 though Ailsa and I visited the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. On the very top floor I saw my first Van Gogh self portrait in “the flesh”. The impasto, the anguished look, the depiction of human despair led me to my first appreciation of how visual art can tap straight into your emotions. I’m not ashamed to say I wept.
That’s also the response I had when I first saw the Pieta by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (Michelangelo to his chums) in St Peter’s church at the Vatican pictured above.

Now, it’s behind glass, but you have to appreciate that no picture can do it justice. The folds of marble cloth are so  realistic that you expect them to billow in the breeze. The facial expressions are completely involving. As I’ve said before I don’t believe in “God”, but I’m in awe of what humans can achieve and how the art of centuries long past can move us now.