Letter from My 48th Year (Feb 3)
From this morning’s journal entry:
A lovely date with R. yesterday at the Phillips. I was mad about the Paul Klee and friends show (not actually its name) being all men, especially since I thought it was all white men. (there’s actually one African-American artist, Norman Lewis) but turns out I really quite enjoyed the show and some of the work was incredible. I was going to write “gorgeous” but that feels wrong as they’re not “pretty” paintings. They’re all abstractions but there’s something so powerful about the mark making.
Toward the end of the visit there were a couple of tours going through the show. I found myself bristling. I was having such a deep experience with the paintings I didn’t want to hear art-speak about them. The paintings I think would have really rewarded slow looking, but one feels, not knowing if one will get back (and doubting one will), that you really need to take in all 50 (or however many) paintings while you are there.
What if exhibits were never more than six or seven works and passionate slow looking was encouraged— seats in front of every work, limited numbers of people in the gallery at any given time. Perhaps you’d lose that ability to see broad connections across a range of artists or the evolutionary arc of a single artist. But perhaps we wouldn’t need such relationships and insights to be codified if slow looking was customary. Perhaps that kind of narrative making or link-making would become instinctual—even if one couldn’t articulate it—because of a habit of deep engagement with the work.
The other thing you need to know about today is that i listened to this interview with Jon Hamm. Several times during the interview Hamm spoke about the power of curiosity (and basically calling someone incurious is a serious diss in Hamm World.) Well worth a listen. (And major props to Pete Holmes of You Made It Weird for being a seriously good interviewer. This was my first experience but I look forward to listening to more chats. Two-hour chats with artists I admire = #goals.