WOMEN OF ALGIERS

Now you’re going to find out that I am somewhat of a snoot. I like art. I don’t mean just any art, but paintings in the styles of the Renaissance up to modern art. The other day, one of Picasso’s works sold for $140,000,000. The price does not bother me at all. If someone has that kind of dough and is willing to part with it, as they say in PA Dutch, zo gates.

The sad part is that a private collector bought it and the hoi poloi will never see it again unless they are invited to the buyer’s villa on the Amalfi coast. Some sales are contingent on the buyer promising to donate the painting to a museum, or at least have it on loan to a museum for a length of time. Since I don’t have that kind of dough, I don’t have to worry about such things.

I guess I began my love of art when, as a small boy, I was taken to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was always to treat to go there with my older sister, or by myself. I even went there with friends and classmates when I got older.

I became further entranced when I was made to take an art course in my freshman year in College. I was all of sixteen and had no understanding of what any of the paintings meant. I knew nothing of eras, schools, techniques, or chiaroscuro. I never noticed that the painter actually viewed his work from a particular spot. The light from a window changed the entire picture. The flat middle age paintings, frescoes or church decorations held no interest for me. They were all left to those who treasured the religious meanings of the multitudinous Mary and the Christ child.

So, you think I am anti religion. Not so. My two favorite paintings in the whole wide world are Dali’s crucifixion (of which I have a canvas in my office), and his Last Supper. You may think of Dali in terms of melted watches, but I think of him in terms of those two fantastic representations.

I was always fascinated by Rubens, Rembrandt, Jan Van Eyck, Titian and El Greco and those sorts of people. I am stuck on portraiture and dark scenes of the countryside. I pretty much halt at the impressionists. My wife especially is a Van Gogh person. We have seen his paintings in the museums in Amsterdam. They are wonderful to see in person. Nothing satisfies like seeing a painting and noticing things like brushstrokes and shadings. That stuff you can’t see in a picture of a painting. Try and capture the sense of the Mona Lisa in a photo. It is really nothing like seeing it in person and wondering why it looks like that Madonna is following you around the room.

No, I am not a connoisseur. I am just a lover of a particular kind of art. Have I seen modern art that I like? Yes, I have. However, given the choice of Franz Kline, Rothko or Chagall and I’ll take Monet, Seurat, Degas and their like. See you at the museum.

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