To the general public, including the sophisticated and well-heeled, enjoying art is inevitably associated with a public “art shrine” like a museum. This kind of experience typically involves hushed voices, aching feet, putting on one’s “serious face” and, often, waiting in long lines. Doesn’t sound very appealing, right? Much has been written about art museums and the strange and even deadening effect they have on artworks. Often, museums take art out of its intended context (Elgin Marbles, anyone?) in which it may not be enjoyed or appreciated in the best way. Perhaps a particular piece of art belongs in a church (as an expression of devotion) or in a beautiful home (to display the owners’ illustrious family history). Lots of art will be better enjoyed in proper surroundings, in spaces where people live, work, eat or worship. Most art will ‘read’ better in a space where there isn’t that much competition for our gaze or where the context enhances the impact of the work. An exhibition hall in a museum will inevitably include many other works that were put together not because they enhance each other’s impact. Rather, art works are often installed in proximity to each other for pedagogical purposes. They are supposed to help us learn something about the development of one artist, for example, or how artists who worked in the same context relate to each other in their work. Imagine what your home would feel like if this would be your system of furniture selection. Your living room would display sofa after sofa of historically or stylistically related pieces.
Of course, one can easily understand the logic behind museums. They execute the core mission of aggregating, displaying and preserving cultural highlights that belong to all of us. They create the narrative of what our cultural history consists in – of what is important and valuable and what isn’t. They display the cultural history we have all inherited and the visual culture of the day. They do all that while being accessible to the public. This is a tall order. No wonder that viewing art in a museum is not the best context in which to view it.
The beauty of ancient cities and towns is made stunning due to publicly available art works. As you sip your espresso in Florence, you are sitting across the piazza from major art displays. You kneel at a small church in Tuscany under the gaze of a Piero Madonna. More and more, major US cities have been integrating art in public spaces – both outdoors and indoors – to the delight thousands of people every day. Often people climb on them, bathe in them, lie underneath them etc. You may be passing by one such work every day on your commute to work, inevitably registering changes in its appearance on different days during different seasons. Yet, most of us believe that art is not for our workplace or home. In contrast to this widely held belief, art will enhance our businesses, our homes, the hotels we frequent and the train stations we use on a daily basis, by entertaining, challenging or surprising us. Art humanizes the spaces we inhabit by expressing or projecting values, ideas and feelings that ranging from humility, generosity, a quest for power to vulnerability, fear and anger. The list is as long and varied as our ability to conceive and to feel.
At Lazar Art Advisory, we help identify the art that will fit your needs and your budget from a deep local and global network of artists in various stages of their careers.