“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
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I visited the Morgan Library for the first time yesterday. I initially went because the Beatrix Potter exhibit ads stirred up some nostalgia about reading those little books as a kid, but while I was there the "Dürer to de Kooning: 100 Master Drawings from Munich" exhibit was really what drew me in.
I don't know that I've been to an all-drawings show. Ever, or in a while at least? But the thing that really struck me was the fact that these images were constructed, through the body and through the hand. I really liked seeing a Dürer in person, after having spent at least a few hours of my life copying the works of the old masters in art school. I kept thinking about how the hand of the artist just isn't as present when you look at a room full of paintings, and how amazing it was to see each line on these pieces, and how each makes up the whole. I was really overwhelmed by the constructed-ness of the pieces, and their ephemerality too. The show made me want to draw again, an urge which I haven't had in a long time.
While it was interesting to be in a museum focused on the book, the drawing, and the page in a way many others are not, I felt conflicted about the museum overall. I don't really enjoy seeing items that rich white dudes took from Africa on their adventures to fill their "treasure rooms." And yet, there I was, staring at them and all the other pieces that it took all the banking to acquire. Museums, Art, wealth, New York--I'm in awe, and I'm repulsed. Where is the struggle and the reality of the everyday?
We went to see The Hobbit friday, and a small child sat behind us. For the first 20 minutes she asked a lot of questions about the movie (before she fell asleep), one of which was whether she knew how to ride a horse ("oh, I know, you just sit on it"). A few Christmases ago, we were in a different movie theater, halfway through a film, when a child turned to their father and said, "Dad, what IS grit?" Whatever it is, I really feel its absence sometimes.
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