Do you ever feel that images are rushing by you? There are so many that come into our space, onto our screens, in our reading material, on our Facebook feeds.
I had the opposite experience recently: one where I could focus on one image for a while. I have to tell you, it was majestic, rejuvenating, and refreshing.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts. The DIA is truly one of the jewels in the crown of the cultural legacy of Detroit. Indeed, the DIA is chock-full of amazing, world class art.
I go a few times a year to the DIA, usually to see a new exhibition or sometimes to bring out-of-towners. When I come, I sort of mentally check off the “biggies” that I want to see or show off: the Diego Rivera courtyard, the Van Gogh paintings, the multiple Picassos, the Chapel from the Chateau de Herbeviller that overlooks the Kresge courtyard, Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Wedding Dance, and so many more.
This past week, I was aware that there was a special guest at the DIA. The Musee D’Orsay in Paris has loaned the DIA one of their stars: Claude Monet’s Waterlily Pond, Green Harmony. The painting, part of Monet’s ouevre of work that he painted at Giverney, France, will be shown at the DIA until January 4, 2015. (I believe that the Musee D’Orsay loaned the painting to the DIA as a way of showing solidarity with the museum and to demonstrate to the Detroit community that a solvent, major museum has the “swat” to bring in big, important art. The DIA and its collection was part of the “Grand Bargain”, Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings.)
What I didn’t know is that the Monet painting was installed in a very special way in a gallery adjacent to the Diego Rivera courtyard. As you approach the gallery, there is a directional sign indicating that you are about to see the “Guest of Honor”. Then you walk into a lovely space…and the only artwork shown is the Monet, hung right in the center of the room, lit perfectly. There are no other images, and pretty minimal information posted nearby. I was practically alone with the Monet (and the security guard). Nothing distracted me at all. I lingered, and I lingered a little more and then I turned away to leave, and I came back again. I had a question about how we got the piece and I sought out the docent nearby. In total, I probably spent about 15 minutes interacting with one painting, an eternity for my typical Type-A quick, sometimes frenzied forays through the DIA and other museums, too.
You should note that this image of the Monet doesn’t even begin to do the painting justice, but it is posted here for your reference.