Go Big.

Is it possible to convey just how big a really large work of art is or do you have to stand in front of it to really understand its size? One example that comes to my mind is Gericault’s Raft Of The Medusa, a painting I’d seen reproduced dozens of times, always on a small scale. I knew from what I’d read that it was a massive painting, but somehow I couldn’t wrap my head around just how big sixteen feet by twenty-three and a half feet really is until I was standing in front of it, and had to walk back and forth and crane my head way back just to take it all in. It’s not surprising that it took Gericault nine months to paint it–from November 1818 to July 1819. In fact it’s surprising he did it that quickly even though he didn’t leave his studio or work on anything else that entire time.

The only way I can think of to explain the difference between seeing a reproduction and seeing the real thing is with another completely different comparison. My whole life I’ve heard “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” and when people told me about going from Tennessee to a more arid climate they’d always say, “It’s true! The humidity really does make a difference!” And I believed them. I just couldn’t understand how much of a difference it made until I went to Palm Springs, California, in June, where the temperature went up to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit–that’s 40 degrees Celsius but with zero humidity it felt like 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Or at least it didn’t feel that hot. Here in Nashville when it gets that warm going outside is like swimming. Even if you don’t do the breaststroke down the sidewalk you’re still gonna get soaked. In Palm Springs it felt pleasant, even cool, until you dropped from dehydration.

What I’m getting at is that I don’t know if I can convey just how big this graffiti is, and its size is even more impressive considering that most graffiti by its very nature has to be done in a hurry. Maybe this will give a better idea of the scale.

I didn’t plan to wear a shirt that matched the paint. That was just a lucky coincidence.

Granted I’m not that tall–I stand just 5’6″, or about 1.68 meters if you want to get metric about it. I’m short enough that I look up to most people, but still that should give you some idea of how big this work is even if you’re not the one standing in front of it.

 

8 Comments

  1. Tom Cummings

    “In Palm Springs it felt pleasant, even cool, until you dropped from dehydration.”

    I lived in a very cool place once (for 32 years), near a coast in a fog (in more ways than one). I visited warm places and hot places and humid places and places even colder than the one I was born (which I thought was impossible most of the time). I fell in love in the desert.

    Now I live up north, and inland, and we see more sun in a year than most places and I love 98-102 degree weather and could sit in it in the sunshine (minus the f’ing smoke) all day all the time.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, that is some real f’ing big graffiti!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It seems like everyone who goes from a humid area to a more arid one prefers the drier clime and I can understand why. The low humidity really does make a difference. Anyway I’m glad that I picked the right metaphor to give you some idea how big that graffiti is. It’s really a mural.

      Reply
  2. Ann Koplow

    You always go big, Chris, and I have big appreciation for this post, which is just the right size.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      This comment is just the right size, and you have conveyed what you’re saying perfectly.

      Reply
  3. Allison

    Totally get the heat-humidity analogy. I remember ordering a beer in Nevada the first time I was there and marveling that in August, the glass never sweated.

    Unrelated. Pizza Perfect on 21st has a new mural you need to see. Pizza Wings.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s fantastic–the Pizza Perfect mural, I mean. I work near there so I’m going to have to drop by and see that.

      Reply
  4. Kristine @MumRevised

    I love the heat and I’ll even take the humidity that goes with it because I have a rule–if you complain about the cold, you don’t get to also complain about the heat.
    Besides… the humidity in winter is dreadful. The cold bites you so hard, you feel the stabbing of tiny frost particles through your winter outerwear like an attack of an embroidery club and I’m the canvas.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’d forgotten about that–in the winter it’s true that it’s really not the cold, it’s the humidity. The extreme dryness of winter is my least favorite thing. It just makes the cold worse. Not that a wet cold is any better. Yeah, I’m pretty cool with the heat too.

      Reply

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