Last Sunday, I got the rare privilege of going to an art museum by myself. I spent a couple of hours checking out the closing day of the Portland Art Museum’s show, ‘The Body Beautiful‘.
It is always a bit of a quandary when ‘headliner’ art exhibits such as this come to town. They are usually packed with people elbow-to-elbow, the exhibition space is usually quite small, the information and guidebooks provided about the art is usually superficial and biased towards the perspective of art historians (rather than the cultural or artistic significance of work).
But it is also an amazing opportunity to see how people from a cross-section of life interact with art. Most of the visitors are there because they heard, ‘this is real art–it’s important’. Some visitors walk by, read the plaque, and walk on, noting that they can scratch ‘see Greek sculpture’ off their bucket list. However, a few are struck by one piece or another. And you realize that the appreciation for a particular work or artist has just extended another generation. And that a string of those moments for over two thousand years is why these sculptures remain relevant today. There is something visceral about this art that resonates with people regardless of their age, generation, or culture.
And then, of course, there is my own personal reaction to these works. It is this art that inspired me to create art in the first place, and it is that moment of connection that we feel when ancient works that keeps be focused on figurative work to this day. Below are some sketches that I drew from some particularly inspiring sculptures.
I was immediately struck by the resemblance of these particular sculptures to Degas’ dancers and bathers, created over 2000 years later.