Sunday, March 1, 2020

Art for art's sake, and ours

Went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few days ago.  (Umpeenth time.)  Perfect museum daygray, rainy.  Walked three hours, randomly.  The Met is so cached with art, it's hard to fathom.   

Yes, Met's a big place.  That's not the subject of today's monologue, though. 

The subject is the splendor of what we've made in the brief time we've inhabited this blessed plot.

You don't need me to inform you of the destruction and pain humans have caused.  That's The NeverEnding Story.

But so is art.  

To spend three hours in the Met walking aimlessly as you would down the streets of a foreign city, is to drink draughts of panoramic beauty.

In the Met can you experience the sheer array of thousands of years of human artistic efforts.  You can see Egyptian jewelry from four thousand years ago crafted by an anonymous master...

Necklace of Princess Sithathoryunet, ca. 1880 B.C., Middle Kingdom, Egypt
..and a somberly inspiring view of New York buildings seen from a bridge painted by Edward Hopper.

"From Williamsburg Bridge" Edward Hopper 1928
 You can see an almost perfectly preserved Etruscan chariot...

Etruscan bronze chariot, 6th century B.C.

...and, a short stroll away, a silk and metal textile by a contemporary Ghanaian master.

Textile by El Anatsui, Ghana, 2006

We see enough of ourselves at our worst.

It's helpful, once every while, to see ourselves at our best.