|The Bluebird by Frank Cadogan Cowper|
I've spent hours browsing websites. I've spent hours selecting paintings for posts. A painting inspires an article, a memory, a new way to look at things. Sometimes a painting moves me to tears, melting numbed emotions between the shock of Devaluation and the joy of Valuing yourself anyway. It's that terrible phase when you're so sick of feeling miserable that you stop feeling much of anything at all. That's when the ARTS move us out of a robotic existence into being fully human again.
I've posted images from prior centuries and paintings from contemporary artists so exquisite, you can't believe a human being accomplished such a thing---that someone picked up brush and with globs of paint on a canvas, created an image speaking to people's hearts hundreds of years later. And here we are in the 21st century with technology at our fingertips and isn't it amazing that we can, with the mere click of a mouse, "Save as", upload the image and embed it on a post. The process from browsing to spiritual transformation, makes me feel as though I'm participating in the arts,albeit click-and-paste.
Well, the other day something happened that made me laugh at human arrogance and yea, narcissistic grandiosity, too. I've generally adhered to copyright laws, only using images old enough to be in the public domain. (Even then, we may not be within our rights to 'use' that image but since we aren't selling prints, we're fairly safe using a masterpiece worth gazillions of dollars having been viewed by bazillions of people in a museum too far away for most of us to visit.)
So one morning I read my email and there's a DMCA take down notice. Blogger warns me to remove the offending image for copyright infringement, or lose my blog which of course makes me feel like a shameful hypocrite. Then I was like "Huh? Which picture?" Did Rembrandt come back from the dead? Have Christian artists been resurrected and now they're threatening to sue me because I write about patriarchy and why-oh-why did I post that image of Satan when a Biblical woman should know better? I was skating on thin ice clicking my mouse, "saving as", and pushing my luck (which considering the facts of my life, there isn't much of). So I go to the offending blog post with the copyrighted masterpiece that needed protection from misuse and abuse by criminals the likes of me and guess which picture it was?
Was it Pieter Breugel the elder? Mary Cassatt? No. It was a new photograph of a bowl of southern beans sitting on a lousy kitchen counter that someone had posted on their cooking blog. Now granted, I had copied and pasted in haste. I shouldn't have done that. I had given credit to the photographer, even highlighted her name with a link to her blog but evidently that wasn't enough to satisfy her territorial instincts. No. She turned me in to the police. Evidently, she valued that photograph more than her reader because she alienated a potential customer for life. I wouldn't read her lousy cooking blog, or shop off her hideous website, if all I had were fifty pounds of beans and no recipe. Was it worth threatening someone with a law suit over a bowl of beans? Well maybe. Esau sold his birthright for lentils, after all. Anyway, it was rather ironic since I write about self-admiration and the grandiose inflation from "average" to "extraordinary", in the eyes of the
artist narcissist only.
So much of modern life is stripped of meaning in our rush to acquire desires that we need the Arts to be accessible to as many people as possible. Thank you Google Art!
When visiting the Art Institute of Chicago to see a painting of Dorian Grey by Ivan Albright, it was shocking to find out that paintings we see in books are much smaller than the original paintings hanging on walls. You're thinking, "Duh CZ", aren't you? Well, what I mean is that the original paintings are MUCH larger and MUCH grander than we realized, sometimes taking up an entire wall! (click the Dorian Grey link and you'll see what I mean). Dorian Grey in a picture book is hideous; but Dorian Grey towering over your head reminds you of childhood. Albright's painting initiates a connection between little-you-then and big-you-now and you heal a little bit.
IN ALL HONESTY my friends, I know very little about art or art history. But nobody says you need a degree in art before you can appreciate it. You may need a degree in bullshit to appreciate a bowl of beans, though.
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