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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Epiphanies

Modern Kicks has a post tonight about a trip to the RISD museum. In the piece, Miguel gets all nostalgic for how that institution opened his eyes to the visual arts.

By chance, I happened to take a similar trip down memory lane today. My epiphany didn't occur in Rhode Island. It happened right here in Manhattan when I was a twenty-year-old college student from the Midwest who had never been exposed to post-war art.

I was reminded of that moment late this afternoon on a quick visit to MoMA. I've been several times since the museum reopened, but for some reason I've missed (or haven't really noticed before) that the curators included Alberto Giacometti's City Square from 1948 (at right) in the permanent collection installation. This piece caused me, as a student visiting MoMA for the first time, to stop and look--to really look. All of a sudden, on seeing this piece, I understood something that I hadn't before. Art didn't have to exhibit verisimilitude to be "good." Art could break the ties to strict representation in order to express something. And sometimes art was more effective if it did.

I can't say that this moment changed my life, but it did open my mind enough to make me want to look (and learn) more. And, I guess, it started me down a path of inquiry that I might not have followed otherwise--a path that has implications for what I do today.

I would be curious to hear about whether others have experienced similar epiphanies. Arts bloggers, any of you care to weigh in?



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