Original post December 12, 2015
“I love your work, but it wouldn’t work in my house.” I hear some version of this almost every time I exhibit. My response has always been, “How is it that your house is not filled with things you love?”
Here’s the trick: Stop thinking of art as decoration. Think of it as art. Would you buy a book because it looks good with the other books on your shelf, or do you buy a book to read? Do you expect it to entertain, stimulate, fascinate, and excite you? Maybe even give you more each time you read it? Why not buy the images that intrigue and excite you… or even those that make you question?
A great image can be “read” over and over, and can surprise you repeatedly, if you take the time to learn to read it. And here’s the thing: if it fits comfortably into your decor, then you’ll hang it on the wall, where it might just languish, becoming just another part of the tastefully arranged room. When was the last time you looked carefully at a painting on the wall in a library or a restaurant or a hotel room? When was the last time you were genuinely moved by decor?
Last summer, I stood before Picasso’s “Guernica” and wept uncontrollably. Later that day, I stood before Diego Velasquez’s “Las Meninas,” and was again deeply moved. At Goya’s “Saturn Devouring One of His Children,” I was horrified and fascinated. And with each of those experiences, I was enriched, and made to be bigger than I am inclined to be. THAT is the power of art. One of the most validating moments of my teaching career was when a student was moved to tears by one of my drawings. And delighted laughter has proven just as rewarding.
Whatever your taste in art may be, stop thinking of it as decoration. Art is about ideas. It’s about the delights and fears and longings that make us who we are. It’s about wonder. Buy the things you love, and read them over and over again. Put them on your wall, or in a fine portfolio, or in a drawer in your desk, but take the time to LOOK at them! Let them feed your soul.