Art is subjective, and it always has been. Don’t get me wrong, you can look at a piece of art objectively, and I’ve done it many times, but somehow it feels wrong to do that, like I’m denying the power of the art by breaking it down to its essential non-essential elements, like thickness of paint strokes and such.
I took a history of art class once, a long time ago, and I remember the instructor telling us about lines, about perspective, and about artist motivation. Artist motivation! I thought it was funny then and I think it’s even funnier now. Even artists don’t always know what their motivation was for creating a work of art, so why should we, once, twice, or thrice-removed from that artist? I like art because it connects with me on some level, and that’s it.
Claude Monet’s bridges have always held a special place in my heart, from the very first moment I looked at one of them. You probably know the one — arch-like with thin railings, a small span. It mesmerized me because of its simplicity. There are so many artists who take major subjects and make them minor. Monet’s genius was to take minor subjects and make them major, by appealing to people who perhaps didn’t have those small pieces of wonder in their lives, or who didn’t appreciate them.
This bridge is my favorite of the ones Monet painted. It has nothing to do with the thickness of the paint strokes, although that thickness does add a feeling of reality to it. I like the realness of it. I like the churning waves that bring to mind when I was facing just such a bridge in Ireland, and those churning waves. You see, art to me is about experience. And the more I have experienced whatever an artist is portraying the more connected I feel to that portrayal.
And that’s okay, the subjective nature of art. I have to think that an artist wasn’t trying to show something objectively, that an artist always knows people are people and will take the art as an aesthetic whole, or they won’t enjoy it at all. Which is just fine with me, because that painting up there is my bridge, and my churning waves, but it’s not just mine. It’s yours too. If you will have it.