Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Seeing is Believing

I am a rising senior at the University of Georgia. In high school, I took a humanities course, which inspired me to take Art Appreciation at UGA to fulfill my cultural diversity requirement. I never would have thought that these two classes would forever change my life. I learned about all the famous artists— Michelangelo, Monet, Raphael and Cézanne and observed the small printed pictures found in textbooks. I immediately fell in love with the Impressionist art of Monet, Renoir and Degas.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Paris. Never in a million years did I imagine I would one day be faced with some of the most famous pieces of art in the world! I spent hours at the Musée d’Orsay, a museum that hosts many of the Impressionist paintings. I stood in awe of my favorite painting, “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette,” by Renoir and I found my feet leading me back to it a second time even. The colors seemed to glitter in the light and dance on the canvas just like the people in the painting. I couldn’t believe the texture, and the raised paint strokes made me want to reach out and touch it, hoping I would be sucked into the painting and teleported to the dance floor. I felt like I could capture every movement, every laugh in the crowd.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, "Dance at Le Moulin de la Gallette"

This is where I learned almost to hate art textbooks. How could I look at this painting again in its small print with dull colors? No publishing company could capture the stunning painting that stood before me. It was absolutely beautiful. But that’s the rub; art looks better in person. That insight made me appreciate and scrutinize every painting I have seen in person since then.  Sometimes the only way to capture the moment is through memory.

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