Friday, August 14, 2015

Art History and I:


University, this year, is over; and my, considerably original, 35,000-word thesis, written over the course of January through July, on Frans Hals, his family portraits prints, and connoisseurship, is now printed, bound, and is, at this moment, being reviewed. I culled all of the energy I could within me, and poured it into this thesis of mine–which entailed traveling around the world; from Madrid, to London, to Cincinnati, Poznan, Poland, and Brussels. So many of my new heroes are now my friends, and my colleagues–and yet there are many whom, despite cordiality, I still seem to admire. Never did I suspect that the world of paintings would have affected my life's narrative so profoundly, nor did I ever I imagine that paintings would be my window into the reading of my present, and my past, and perhaps now too, my future. Paintings have allowed me to project myself into worlds and realms that I could have not visualized. Confronting a painting in person is so much more profound than only looking at an image of it, as on a screen. The texture of the painting's surface is, what matters most–it's where the paint is. For the month of June, I floated between my balcony and my computer, pausing between typing and balcony lounging, combined with copious coffee drinking, lots of running, to clear my mind, and Hals-articles reading-sessions. Immersed within the seventeenth century was my mind for most of the last six months; the trend of pushing myself toward the direction of art history, was already well under way, in September 2013. It was only seven months before, that I had visited Istanbul, and, there, in a museum, in front of an Assyrian statue, with its 'archaic' smile, began to become teary-eyed, silently, and happily. My eyes were wet, because of the beauty, of humans attempting to make solid rock form into the face of a smiling anthropomorphic being; smiling stone. That was when I knew that, while, yes, art had always been part of my life, the history of it was where I was headed; and in that moment I knew I was walking through a new path, clearing it for myself to eventually prance back and forth around on, for a while, similar to a model prancing up and down a catwalk, until a new extension was needed. I've created a new way through the woods, or jungle–take your pick–so to speak; it leads to the seventeenth century, where most of my friends lived, my friends being the painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Leaving Hals and his family portraits behind, has left me craving more more knowledge, more substance, more context for these painters and their paintings that I have so profoundly taken to, with both an eye for admiration and investigation. It seems as if I were at a diving well at a large pool, on the edge of the three meter high diving board, walking toward its edge; yet, somehow, the duration of my reaching the diving board's edge, feels infinite–the journey there, arduous; it's as if the middle section of the diving board has morphed into a treadmill that, no matter how fast I seem to run, never quite allows me to run past it, to reach the diving board's edge, to spring, jump, and make the most beautiful of splashes–this diving board feels never ending. Though I know–it won't be. It's just that I receive my final mark on my thesis in about three weeks; I know it's good, but I'd like to know how good. Yet, paralleling my anxious anticipation for my final mark, is my excitement over a new study. I miss the painters so much, that I've chosen to continue studying the period (the Dutch Golden Age) and its local output (the paintings, buildings, culture that emanated from it), which so intrigue me–the paintings, and architecture, perhaps the most. Starting in September, I'll begin a new master's program at the University of Amsterdam, for two more years. It was the other day, while sitting on my balcony, submersed within a world of lusciously green ivy and grasses, that I told myself, and believed it, that I was, indeed, an intellectual. It's not an elusive status that I'll always aspire to. Yes–my pursuit will be never ending–as art history entails 'homework', until one passes. My culling of knowledge will never be complete. In that moment, for the first time, in quite some time, and continuing today, I believe me. An art historian, am I. I'm still fitting into this new identity; my new outlet for mental pursuits; my new way to contribute to the world, through one of the most naturally feeling modes of operation, that I've so far played, as an actor within the world–the role of the student; the role the historian; the role of the one whose interest and enthusiasm for Dutch Golden Age paintings runs eerily deep. Art history, to me, feels right. And that is what, to me, matters most.