When I decided to declare painting and printmaking as my major in college, I was shocked by the amount of requirements you had to take! Being 18, totally naïve (and a little dumb), I thought my passion for making art would carry me through my studies. Boy was I wrong! All those requirements: color theory, figure drawing, design, etc, put a damper on my passion for making art. Those years filled with strict artistic requirements were tough and included more moments of failure than I sometimes care to remember (yup, I got a D in color theory). However, over time I found that all those classes brought discipline and a better understanding of art to my evolution as an artist.
About half way through my college career, I became smitten by art history classes. So much that I almost pulled a 180 and changed my major to art history! What started out as just another bone-dry requirement, slowly turned into fuel for my artistic inspiration. When I was in college, the internet was still pretty new (precious few blogs and no pinterest or instagram) and wasn’t exactly the resource for inspiration it is today. Books, museums, galleries and classes were the means of seeking inspiration and engaging with the artistic communities. Art history unlocked something important in my spirit and became the source of my interest and drive to make art.
Somewhere between The History of Western Art and The History of Flemish Painting, I fell in love with sitting in the dark classroom, gazing at slides, and mesmerized by tales of the life and times of the artists. I was captivated and enriched by the process of learning about those who came before us and changed the world with their gifts, passions and courage. Hearing their stories, investigating their visions and techniques; it was a deeply important experience of love, respect, and humility.
thats me in 1996 at the Musee d'Orsay (please ignore my striped pants and fanny pack!)
Those classes are the reason why I cried when I saw Van Gogh's Starry Night at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris when I was 21 years old. They are the reason why I get butterflies when I walk into a museum. They are the reason I stand as close as possible to view a painting when I’m at a gallery or museum (seeing the brushstrokes makes me feel a connection to the artist). Those classes are the reason that while the internet is at my finger tips for ideas, I choose to revisit history and it's stories when I am looking for inspiration.
Lately I have found myself craving the feelings I had back in those classes. I really want to nourish those old wonderful feelings and have decided that once in a while I will share some art history in this space. I will highlight an artist, an idea or a powerful moment in time that’s made an impact. My hope is to inspire you, my readers, and perhaps we can all meet some new, unexpected friends in the colorful chronicles of history. To begin, I have put together a list of my favorite books (new and old) with the hope to ignite and inspire a little interest in all things art history. Stay tuned for more!