Why in Art

When the usual Tuesday networking was cancel yesterday in prep for July 4th, one of the group member decided to visit the DeYoung on free Tuesday. Being an art history junkie, of course I went. We end up going a tour of Three Masterpieces, and then another on American Art. Interestingly, the docent inquire about our interest in art work (to decide which Masterpieces to go over) and what Masterpieces to us. To my own surprise, I immediately answered Aztec. The docent then later mentioned how people often thought of art as the western art, which is why the World art tour can offer a different perspective and is something that she really likes. Later on the tour, my companions mentioned that some of the native pieces are scary. While I agree – having a skull staring at you will creep most people out – I also like the creepy artworks.

Which brings the question, why? Western art definitely is what attracted me initially to art history class, and I never got Picasso’s fascination with African mask when I was younger as I was looking at his work on paper during my high school and early college years. But a visit to DeYoung sparked something. I think it is the same with my feeling toward architecture – reading about them on paper is great, but what constitute as great architecture and art… their true quality may only shine in person. Looking at the native mask and art on paper, there is no aesthetic appeal to me.  But seeing it in person? It struck me stronger than many of the “perfect” Western art. To me, I feel those native art are very powerful. It has a strong presence and a rich history. It is very hard to grasp that on paper – the old saying of picture don’t do it justice. If I am getting a postcard, I would prefer a beautiful Western pieces, as they are elegant in any paper medium. But in term of real physical objects, I think I may enjoyed a native art or pottery instead. Well, if it doesn’t give me a scare at night, that is.

Great looking at it in museum during daytime, not so great at 3 am.

Talking about artworks, I love those tiny adorable pottery. Wish I know how to make them:

Umm, maybe having a growling bear as an example doesn’t really matches the “adorable” image, but trust me, its adorable in person. The detail at such small scale is amazing.

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