Visiting art galleries and museums is one of my very most favourite things in the world. Having read bzillions of books about art over the years, highlights of gallery visits are of course seeing pieces I’ve read about and have been wanting to see in person. Unfortunately the experience is sometimes underwhelming.
If you’ve been to see the Mona Lisa in The Louvre you know exactly what I mean. Even though she wasn’t on my list of must-sees, I still did battle the crowds … why? perhaps just in case I would experience some kind of artist revelation in her presence (or something; I didn’t as it turned out).
If you’ve seen Stonehenge from a car or bus as you’ve whizzed along the nearby main road, you also know what I mean. Disappointing and barely majestic (though it is better when you’re walking around it, and I would happily visit again and again).
And so I come to Picasso’s Guernica, housed in Madrid’s Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
image from Wiki
I still think about the experience. As I wrote at the time, it was surprisingly intense and powerful, and the artwork hit me in the chest. But it tested every skerrick of my patience to be among the bustling crowd and the gormless visitors taking photographs even though there were more no-photo signs than artworks in that room.
I’m probably a gallery snob; for I do find it tiresome to hear the inane ramblings of those who are obviously only there to be able to say they were there, and not there for the sake of the artistic experience (oh you know you can tell the difference too).
This artwork deserves so much better … how I wish I could have just sat in the room on my own, in quiet solitude, to feel the immense impact of it. I wanted to be engulfed by it, to feel what moved Picasso to make it.
If only galleries would consider making iconic artworks available in such a manner … to set aside a few hours, in the evening if necessary, perhaps even only once a year, when patrons (for a fee of course, likely a large fee) could have ten minutes with the artwork alone (with guards, naturally), in silence and solitude.