“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak.”
John Berger, Ways of Seeing.1
We are traveling through foreign countries whose language’s we cannot speak. John Berger’s quote is reassuring.
Whilst taking photos at the gallery a couple from the North of France came up to me to ask in French what kind of camera I was using. I awkwardly gestured and proclaimed no Français. They proceeded to speak in English asking where I was from and why I had come to Europe, then we started talking about our mutual appreciation and enjoyment of art. Towards the end of our conversation I said how lucky I thought they were to have all this wonderfull art on their doorstep and they responded ‘yes but we don’t understand it’. I wish I could have recalled the above quote from John Berger for them.
Admittedly on our first and second visit’s to galleries in Amsterdam I felt uncomfortable. I was experiencing imposter syndrome, I felt I didn’t know enough because I couldn’t recall periods in the order that they happened in Western art history, and that my interpretation of the work’s of art would be lacking. Only after multiple gallery visits did I start to relax and feel more comfortable, realising that I am here to learn and to relish looking.
This morning we got a sleep in because unlike most galleries which open at 9 am the Picasso gallery didn’t open until 10:30. We have learnt to be at the galleries half an hour before opening times to avoid huge queue’s. Once inside the gallery we were pleased not to have to wait in a line or negotiate crowds. As soon as we picked up our audio guides and checked in our bags and coats we set off to look at some art.
Picasso experimented with all sorts of styles, ideas and mediums. There was such a variety of work on display including paintings, drawings, collages, print’s, ceramic’s and sculptures which made for a really interesting viewing experience.
Picasso was influenced by many major works in art history including but not limited to works by Eugene Delacroix, Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Edouard Vuillard and Henri Rousseau. We got to see a few of the great masters works from Picassos own art collection.
The work by Manet alone inspired Picasso to complete 140 drawings and 27 paintings. Picasso made cardboard models appropriating and reinterpreting Manet’s figure’s. In his paintings Picasso experimented further with changing the figures attitudes and positions.
I am loving viewing in person paintings that I have pored over for years in books. I am also enjoying studying multiple works by the same artist side by side, room by room which help’s me gain more of an insight into the artist’s processes and methodologies.
Art is everywhere, the more we look the more we see.
Farewell, Au revoir gentilly