Do you like art? By art, I’m talking about the stuff that hangs on walls or sits on pedestals in art museums — the works of the grand masters of the Renaissance through to the present day. And actually as far as timeline goes, I’d add in the the Pre-Renaissance masters from the Byzantine and Baroque eras also, as it is from them that the Renaissance was birthed.
The Kimbell Art Museum is currently showing an exhibit of the National Galleries of Scotland called Botticelli to Braque, a selection of 55 paintings spanning over 400 years (the late 1400s to the 1930s) from the Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Featured artists include Botticelli, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Sargent, Monet, Pissaro, Picasso, Matisse, and a number of their contemporaries. While admission to the permanent collection is always free, there is a charge for the special exhibit. But for the art lover, the price is well worth it.
What I find so special about the pieces is that they don’t just represent the talent of the artist in paint. They are windows, photographs in paint if you will, snapshots on specific moments in history, that the artist feels are important enough to share. And I find myself thinking, OK, so a person says they hate art. But have they considered what these works actually represent? If they dislike art, do they also hate history? What about drama? Photography? Because that’s what these pieces can contain within their frames. They were the historians and photographers of their day, cataloging moments in time that we have the benefit of enjoying today.
Now I don’t mean to suggest that all works of art do this. Some of what could be considered modern art is simply an expression or statement in support of, or in opposition to, some “thing” or “event” — or it may simply be a window into the tortured soul of the artist. Or it may simply be the artist acting out on a whim. And the meaning behind these works can be hard to ascertain, and hard to accept for me personally. The Kimbell exhibit has a few of these pieces towards the newer end of the collection, and while I find that they don’t move me in the way that the old masters do, they’re still important in presenting a well rounded examination of the Scottish collection. One man’s art is another man’s trash perhaps. And just because I don’t understand a Mondrian or a Derain, or one of the mind bending offerings of a surrealist, doesn’t mean it’s not a valid, meaningful piece.
The Kimbell exhibit is well worth your time, and even at a slower pace, takes little more than an hour and a half to see everything — that is, if you read each of the descriptions and use the excellent and included audio guide. And then, once you’re finished there, be sure to check out the always exceptional, and as stated above, always free, permanent collection, spanning all of the major schools and time periods throughout art history.
For more information on the Kimbell’s current exhibit: http://scotland.kimbellart.org/