Saturday, March 08, 2008
I love to experience art in a totally emotional way. Many times in my life I’ve attended live performance—classical music, opera, pop, dance, theater—that overwhelms my emotions. I find myself with tears streaming down my face, and I can’t help it. It’s not the same as being manipulated to cry during a Hollywood movie. I cry when I’m experience extreme and painful beauty.
The irony is that my own field of visual art rarely elicits this reaction from me. Maybe it has to do with the time-basedness of the performing arts. Or maybe visual art is just too cerebral.
But the other day I was watching Art 21, a PBS series of interviews with contemporary artists, for my Art Orientation class. Some of the artists are down-to-earth, some arrogant, some funny, some sarcastic, some all business, some cryptic.
But then came an interview with sculptor Louise Bourgeios, one of the grade dames of the High Art world. She is about 90 now, her French accent still thick. Maybe it was that I so rarely see someone of advanced age on video. Maybe that it was that she reminded me of my grandmother with her intelligence. It was certainly the artwork that broke me down and had me weeping at its beauty.
She took large rough blocks of black marble, about three feet high, and carved only the tops, from casts made of her own arms and hands, and the hands of other people, including children.
She then placed these fragile fragmented limbs on their pedestals in a wild grassy urban park, with no grand walkways or clearing, so if you came on them it was a surprise. The grace and timelessness of these sculptures totally tore out my heart. They are like the missing arms of Greek statues, or found limbs of those blown off by land mines. You should see them.