I’ve got a backlog of links and other stuff from the past few weeks. My son wants to play Minecraft with me right now, so I’m just sending you this. Links, as always, relevant to yours interests, and more ephemera coming next time.
Portrait of Michael Wolgemut.
I went to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum while we were in Nuremberg. It contains mostly artifacts from, well, German history. Lots of Jesus stuff, but lots of everyday items, especially from rich people and monks. Their stuff is most easily preserved over time and interesting.
There are paintings and sculptures too, Dürer. But it’s the every day things from wash basins, to cups, Roman jewelry, and endless collection of broken combs that captivates me.
Museums get me excited, agitated, in the same way that going into a book store, mindlessly “browsing the Internet,” or a good stationary store does: so much _ matériel_, so much potential for doing something - like essays or being inspired to write short stories about the objects, drawings, or comics.
But, I can’t always expunge that energy properly. It gets blocked by life once I exit the museum and I just have to blow it out like golden bilge so I don’t sink and sink once I leave port.
After reading Art as Therapy I have new techniques for looking at all these items. I’m not sure what they are, but they mostly consist of asking two questions:
- What was the person creating this thinking, not so most the “message” and “meaning,” but just what was running through their mind and what was their life like, how did their work fit into their life, how did the act of creating this object, and that they were creating it tell us a little story, or a big one, about them. The most famous Drüer image at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum tells you this story on it’s placard: this was a painting of his mentor and he wanted to capture all the details, even adding to it as the subject got older (not changing it, adding the layers of time). That attention to detail, that choosing to tribute his mentor gives you some kind of empathy for how Drürer thought and went through his life - maybe even his principals and model to use yourself. Or, at least, it allows you to create an interesting story to entertain yourself as you pass by yet another statue of Saint George and the Dragon.
- How this thing was used, how it fit into life and culture after its creation. How it was an extension of a person. Or, less grandly, just how a buckle kept up a pair of pants or a helmet prevented head crushing. This too is a story to throw into the “what does it all mean?” chipper shredder - or, for those who’ve got it more figured out, another layer of lacquer to reinforce your existential assurance.
There’s also the reactions of smugness, fun-as-sentimental, and just liking how things look. For example, back here in Amsterdam at the Stedelijk Museum:
- There’s a collection of bauhaus furniture - “oooo! I read about that and know about it,” I smugly react feeling good about myself.
- There’s a large installation called “The Beanery” that’s both a fun diorama and reminds me of so many things in my life: a cluttered house where even trash and dust matters as part of the collection, an instant transporting to that mid-2000’s time that my generation never lived in but that surrounded us (the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s). If I could find the ambient sound-track from “The Beanery,” I’m pretty sure I’d listen to it frequently.
- There’s an ongoing collection of prints, esp. the Japanese advertising posters from the likes of Minolta, handbills, and books. They just look cool. (There’s sentimentality in it too: that 80s neon-vector, airbrush style is comforting.)
Anyhow, I suppose this is some bilging. No more stink in port.