Thursday, February 02, 2006

Henri Rousseau

I happened to be channel surfing on Tuesday evening and came across a man walking down a row of paintings, all by Henri Rousseau, and making the usual intellectual comments that seem to be what people do with art these days. I call this the Sister Wendization of art. They drone on and on about who is in the pictures and have nothing to say about how they look.

"Oh my God, someone is doing an exhibition of Henri Rousseau!" was my reaction. Naturally, they said nothing to give you a clue who this was. At the end I scanned the screen of hundreds of credits and thought I saw the word "Tate." Yes! It was / is until Sunday at the Tate Modern. I left work unexpectedly yesterday to go all the way across London to see it. Glorious. The tiger painting is now my wallpaper. I was planning to retire last month, so it isn't like they could fire me for malingering. The worst that could happen is that I would have to go home. My plane ticket is already paid for.

Art is for looking. Being trained to make music teaches you exactly the things you need to know to hear music. Music is about listening, and everyone seems clear about that. No one seems to get that art is about looking. Experience the way the deep blue-greens saturate the picture, the way the snake charmer is so dark you can hardly see his/her features. Experience the way it looks. The man was a genius at creating a look you have never seen before. It doesn't matter at all what it refers to in the real world.

No comments: