Bonding with the Tate Modern

unadorned canvas with a slit cut down the middle at a slight angle

How is it that a museum can touch me so deeply? Perhaps it is because I’m still new to the adventure that contemporary art offers. Where an initial impression might be “Dear Lord, what is that?” or perhaps a good hard laugh…like when I approached Spatial Concept ‘Waiting’ by Lucio Fontana.

Honestly, a slashed canvas didn’t move me. But, armed with an Antenna Audio PDA, I dove into the interpretation…and discovered a doorway in. Simplicity, movement, sculpture, opening, opportunity…the hole became a portal to my future. And I knew, with all my heart…that when given that small window…I’m ready to look, listen, taste, consider and leap.

large egglike sculpture with a vertical opening.  white on outside, reflective deep red, almost black on the inside

And while bonding with “Waiting” required a little interpretive help from the PDA…my connection to Anish Kapoor’s Ishi’s Light 2003 was instant. I didn’t need to know the title or have anyone tell me what this work might mean…I understood instinctually…as though the piece spoke directly to my soul. When I resonate with a work of art like this, it is as though I have found completeness. My mind clears and I feel as though I’ve been filled with light. I could stay there all day…but realize I don’t need to…because once I’ve experience a work on this level…it becomes a part of me.

I wonder if the energy I feel pouring off Ishi’s Light comes directly from the artist…or if the work actually absorbs and reflects the élan of all the souls that have communed with it.

So, what about you? Have you ever “fallen into a work of art with all of your being”? Do you ever connect with a piece without knowing anything about it? Have you ever initially rejected a work as junk only to fall in love with it later? Tell me…I want to know.


  1. This is not a direct answer to your question, but I did want to weigh in on contemporary art and the initial “love it or hate it” feeling you’ve described. My comment rambles, but then again…so do I.

    I have to admit (and have already done so within the confines of your blog) that I have no concept of most modern art. I don’t know what a slashed canvas means, other than the artist had a psychotic episode. I am usually drawn to brush strokes and bold colors. Using the Impressionist exhibit at the MFAH as an example, I was drawn to Van Gogh’s works, first by the color. I was able to stand mere inches from the painting, and I noticed how thickly the paint was applied. The thickness of the paint allowed me to see the brush strokes and almost feel the emotion or, at the very least, the determination behind them.

    The same applies to my appreciation for contemporary art. The colors and brush strokes ellicit some kind of emotion for me. I like that. I like art that makes me feel. If I see something so obscure that I give it a “doggie head tilt” and am forced to read the artist’s explanation, is the art conveying the artist’s view? If a piece NEEDS one or more paragraphs of explanation, is it a successful piece? If I don’t get it (without help), does that make me too ignorant, too literal, or too dense to appreciate contemporary art? Art is, after all, subjective. If I get something from a piece, but it isn’t what the artist intended, do the same questions apply?

    Even museums aren’t immune from interesting or incorrect interpretations of “what is art?” I heard about this earlier this week, and thought I’d share it with you:

  2. Lindsay…I know exactly what you mean…the first time I stood on the Impressionist Floor in the Orsay…I was completely blown away. And later that week when I went to the Musee Marmotten to see Monet’s Waterlillies it was magnificent!

    Rhon…giggle…I totally get what you are saying…and while I’m having fun playing games with art…you definately have a point. The article about Hensel “loosing his head” cracked me up!

  3. I can appreciate some of the art created since the 19th Century, but I’m quite sure that I dislike most of it.

    As for your description of falling into art, that’s how I feel about certain pieces of music: Mozart’s “Serenade for Winds,” Orf’s “O Fortuna,” Yanni’s “Reflections of “Passion,” and Elton John’s “Funeral for A Friend” to name just a few.

    Music. More than caffeine, more than chocolate, more than anything, can alter my mood. Yeah, I probably should’ve told a few of my dates that, right?

  4. Wow Meesh…I don’t think I realized that music moved you like that. More than chocolate and caffeine…now that is serious!

    I’m such a visual/word girl…that music rarely blows me away…but ooooo….when it does….it is simply amazing. For me…music that touches my soul includes, George Winston (the entire December album…especially Variations on the Kanon by Pachelbel) and Jim Brickman’s Dream Come True. My niece just introduced me to Wideawake and Jon Hicks introduced me to Sigur Ros…I can loose myself in both of these artists as well.

  5. […] A very accosting layout and a interesting discussion topic, do you provide any Web-based services to universities or students. […] – Sorry for the stupid question :-)

    It happens to me too!

  6. i had no idea you were a george winston fan… his december album is my favorite album of all time. we brought our ipod fully loaded with all of our music to our son’s birth, and all that i wanted to hear was the enchanting sound of his fingers flying over those keys. talk about medicine for my soul.

  7. Had a painting prof in El Paso once, a young guy, infectious on fire w teaching n w new contempory art. He lit our class clean up. Loved Richard Diebenkorn for his prints, and spoke rimfully about his ginormous Ocean Park series o paintings. I saw pictures of em in artbooks back then but was unmoved. I couldn’t see it. ||| Swept forward about six years later, I finally saw a real one in the Milwaukee Museum of Art and fell right into its numinous pentimenti, just as the teacher had begged us to, years back, as his comparisons to Matisse’s sense of color finally cinched into focus. I was so wrong about the work! Lost my heart right there. ||| And similarly with Mark Rothko. You know: you see a 2x2in, three-stripe image in a survey-of-art book, and get nothing, but git yerself near a real one? — elephantsized — and reach hard for its stillness; it comes in a gale of shudder, landscapily shimmeringy zennily moving your hands up to cup your ears in a Munch of a scream no one’ll hear but you. (The scream is of joy.) ||| Joe Bob, indeed, says get thee to a Rothko Chapel if you’re *ever* near Houston, because — yeesh — its nice to be wrong when the right is so beaut. ||| Nice question, Ms Witch; thank you lots.

  8. Hi,

    thank you for the good article and interesting discussion. … and verry cool pictures/photos on the top on this site.

    Greetings from Germany

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