Sitting in the Van Gogh Museum, staring at a Paul Gauguin “Life in Tahiti” painting.
It doesn’t do much for me.
Not the Gauguins, not the Cézannes, not the Van Goghs.
Not any of it, really.
I recognize some of the styles and enjoy the comfort of vague familiarity, but that’s about it. I try to savor the feeling it gives me. Try to hold it under my tongue and squeeze meaning from it.
But I am lost without the phone-on-a-rope contraption that narrates the museum tour for me. Without the soothing British voice rattling off art history, I have difficulty recognizing any of the painting’s depth.
I suppose it is no different than any artist’s work. After hearing the artist’s perspective, influences, etc., it is infinitely easier to appreciate the work’s depth.
I guess what I’m saying is that without a recorded museum docent to tell me so, I wouldn’t know how good this art is.
Which makes me wonder, Is it EVER a good idea to be told what art is good art?
Or should you always listen to your own personal judgment?
Even if the work is trite.
Even if the work is cliché.
If it makes me feel good, should I cover my walls with Velvet Elvis Paintings?
Or paintings of sad clowns?
Or airbrushed centerfold photography?
Does enjoying something less complex (say a mouthful of CoolWhip) make me any less intelligent, cultured, or wise?