One of the biggest annual Art Fairs in America is Art Basel, held in Miami, Florida. It is massive and goes for almost a week. I have never seen so much art in one place. I wasn’t sure why I went except for the fact that there is pretty much more Art here, this one week in December, than anywhere else in the entire world. I knew also I would learn something but I wasn’t sure what.
The caliber of the work is quite high, however after several days of wandering through cavernous exhibit halls, it all kind of starts to runs together a little.
There are exceptions, however. Every 15 or 20 minutes you would come across a piece of extraordinary art. It didn’t matter what kind of art it was, painting photography, sculpture, etc.; it just was hands down remarkable. Something that just stopped you in your tracks.
What I found interesting was that the art that I found exceptional was the same art that others did too. It was easy to tell because of the fact that everyone today seems to have an iPhone. When something is hands down amazing, people stop, walk up close, pull out their iPhone and take a picture.
Everyone makes this same motion and when streams of people are all doing this same action, it becomes noticeable. It is almost as if people are stopping momentarily to give a gesture of appreciation and respect before moving on. They are giving it a “like” It is crowd sourcing Art.
After the second day of noticing this phenomenon I started asking myself, what is it about all these particular works of art that make them extraordinary? What reaction or feeling are they eliciting in all these different people from all over the world? What do all these works of art have in common that the others don’t?
I thought about this a great deal. I am not sure I figured out the answer.
But even so, this is what I came up with:
Great Art gives us one primary feeling. And that is Wonder. It is about being presented with something that is so different, so surprising that it makes us reconsider a small part of our own reality. It offers us the possibility to see our world entirely differently than we did before. And this, in turn, makes us feel alive.
This feeling comes crashing through to the viewer regardless of where he or she comes from, regardless of whether it is abstract or representational, a painting or a photograph, a miniature or an enormous sculpture. It just simply awakens us to a new aspect of our lives, even ourselves. We are simply made more alive. And like a once in a lifetime visit to one of the 7 wonders of the world, we take a picture to remember. We take a picture to remember how it made us feel.
How does great Art make you feel? What was it?