There’s a generally held idea that art that’s overly sentimental, that plays a little too loudly on the heartstrings, is bad art. I think this is a relatively new idea that traces its origins back to 18th century neoclassicism which admired ancient works of art and architecture for their subtlety and lack of color, not realizing that back when they were made those works were brightly painted, but that’s another story. Anyway, yeah, I agree, anything that overdoes the weepiness or, worse, cynically tries to reduce us to a sobbing puddle as an excuse to pry a few extra dollars out of us is bad art. Not feeling, or pretending not to feel, though, can be just as bad. Ray Romano has a joke about how when he goes to buy an anniversary card for his wife he looks for one that says what he would say if he were drunk. It’s funny but also sad that too many of us, especially men, feel uncomfortable with expressing powerful emotions.
That brings me to this:
It’s appropriate that this was done as a mural, that it’s big because the emotions it evokes are so large and so powerful. And yet at the same time it hits that perfect balance. The color palette is subdued and the narrative force, while strong, isn’t over the top.
It’s dramatic without being melodramatic, and while effective at a distance becomes even more so up close where the subtler details reveal themselves.
If my analysis seems somewhat cold and unfeeling, I can say, in my defense, that I feel it’s important for critical purposes to maintain a certain distance, to not be so overcome by emotion that I lose sight of what makes a work like this good. However I’d be perfectly comfortable expressing just how this mural makes me feel if I were drunk.
That’s an impressive piece! And an impressive piece about the piece. What kind of building is that on?
That’s something I should have checked but didn’t think to. It’s downtown so I think it’s some kind of office building, which is nice. I wouldn’t mind working in that building even if I’d get a little choked up on my way into work.
hehe yeah you can still see the traces of paint on the Parthenon 😉 hehe that line about only expressing emotions when drunk could be applied to most British people imo 😉 But I do really like that piece!
I’ve never seen the real Parthenon, only the one in Nashville which was never painted, but I’d like to see the traces of paint on it. And I’ve known quite a few British people who remain cool and reserved even when drunk, so much so it was difficult to know when they were drunk.
That one hits me in the gut every time I see it – because it reminds me of my first dog, Lola, and it just speaks to a deep sadness that I can’t identify. It’s well done.
We have the best art in this town. I’m biased, though.
It would be hard for me to see that particular mural regularly.
We do have some amazing art in this town, though. From what I’ve seen murals are becoming very popular in big cities all over the country but Nashville’s really stand out.
Great art includes “Dr. Katz,” that mural, certain Rolling Stones songs, and your blog, Chris.
That means a lot since you have mastered the art of the blog and the art of the comment.