14 Nisan 2009

clapping and crying

It was in New York, probably in the Museum of Modern Art. I walked past a recess, and as I passed by I had the feeling something had pushed me. It was akin to the feeling you have when you're snoozing on a train, and you suddenly have to open your eyes because you feel someone is staring at you. In the recess there was a painting by Mark Rothko, a reddish area in a dark surrounding. Its presence was so unmistakable, I nearly wanted to step forward and warm my hands on it.
That was when I lifted up my hands in an involuntary gesture, because I wanted to applaud. But I immediately felt ridiculous, and refrained. The sound of two hands clapping does not go well with paintings.
Rob Klinkenberg (from his letter to James Elkins, quoted in Pictures & Tears, p. 227)

Well-known art historian James Elkins has made a query about crying in front of paintings and wrote Pictures & Tears in 2001. The book involves a kind of a history of people that cried in front of paintings and tries to give some answers why people might have cried in front of some paintings and why actually there are only a few of them, both people and paintings that make some cry. For his query, Elkins requested people to write him letters about what they feel for having cried in front of some paintings. There are all sorts of odd and funny answers to this very creative query. However, the one I quoted above approaches the other side of the story; not crying, but clapping in front of the paintings.

2 yorum:

  1. hahahahh! the sight of someone clapping in front of a painting is ridiculously funny to me; and i don't really know why -been thinking about it for a couple of minutes. it's equivalently funny to the practice of clapping hands for a cat, as it's staring at you blankly, not really knowing what to do (something i do just for the fun of it, from time to time).

    anyway, the theme is pretty interesting. i guess i'd buy the book if it weren't 27$. i haven't cried in front of one but i clearly remember some of them giving me tingles down the spine.

  2. ahahh bu da iyiymiş ben de yapıcam. clapping to cats is definitely a much better idea than clapping for paintings!

    if some paintings gave you tingles down the spine, that is probably more or less the same thing with making you cry right? some of them are definitely able to evoke such feelings. but, how come? yeah, the book was interesting, i think art history as a discipline is undergoing a change, a development similar to the one that anthropology went through in the 70s and 80s. hence, some very interesting and creative theoretical works are appearing. but, yes, they are mostly 27$ or more...


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