For most of my adult life I have had the feeling that art has less to do with the medium and more to do with the expression of it. My oldest daughter and I were having a conversation about the 20th century design works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. There are several works from the Bauhaus at the MOMA. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/bauh/hd_bauh.htm Even though Hitler closed the Bauhaus, its impact on how we view art resonates. German architect Walter Gropius (Bauhaus founder) had this idea that art could be expressed through the utilitarian. What is revolutionary is the concept that art, architecture and design are all artistic expressions and ordinary people could enjoy aesthetics in simple necessary things. I think maybe Greeks and Romans had a similar belief (I’m sure this idea is not limited to the West) that ordinary things should be works of art. This seems really obvious in the display of household items from the remains of Pompeii found in the National Archeological Museum in Naples, Italy. http://museoarcheologiconazionale.campaniabeniculturali.it/thematic-views/image-gallery. Everyday things such as pots and combs were elaborately and lovingly decorated with sometimes beautiful, sometimes funny images. I love this idea that a person can express an idea and become lost in the creation of what we would consider an ordinary thing such as a hairbrush or dinner or a pair of shoes. The Bauhaus movement taught us that it doesn’t have to be elaborate or heavily adorned to be considered art. Beauty or art is indeed in the eye of the beholder. To make the ordinary aesthetically pleasing or interesting, we can put the responsibility on the beholder to be present to the ordinary. A life filled with the awareness of artistic expression is a very rich life.
February 8, 2011