Peace and Quiet
09.03.13 10:17 AM ET
Museums Cure ADD
This is a brand new work by Lucy Hogg (yes, my wife – nepotism 'r us), from a series documenting how people use art museums. This photo shows two visitors to the lovely Gemäldegalerie in Berlin contemplating the best version of Titian's "Venus with an Organ Player", which I'd say is one of the earliest fully modern paintings. (Click on my image for a high-res of the Titian.) At first, it seemed tragic that such a great work, like the very great museum it is in, should attract such a tiny audience. But then I realized that I was buying into the same corporate model for museums that I've often attacked, where numbers are how success is judged. The Gemäldegalerie provides an experience that used to be the hallmark of museums: An atmosphere of intimate relations with great art that stands in contrast to the crowds and rush of modern life, and to capitalist bean counting. Judging museums by how full they are is like wishing there could be crowds in attendance at the great moments of romance in your life. Museums need to offer up their unique quietude to people from all walks of life; working stiffs need it even more than the well-heeled do. Museums commit cultural suicide by becoming shopping malls and fun fairs.
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