If I’m honest, I don’t really like New Year’s resolutions and their implication that we need to somehow “correct” our behaviour. I much prefer thinking of the start of a new year – and decade, as it happens! – as an exciting opportunity for new and exciting experiences.
As you know, I am passionate about museums and exhibitions, and love sharing it with you. As such, one of my biggest challenges is to keep renewing my approach. This allows me to keep a “fresh” outlook on the art, to satisfy my own curiosity and of course, to have more fun in the process!
So, instead of resolutions, here are some proposals for 2020 that might allow you to enjoy some new artistic experiences, whether you are already an avid museum-goer or a newbie. After all, museums are good for you – in Canada, doctors can actually prescribe museum visits to patients as of 2018!
Go visit a museum or an exhibition that you are not initially drawn to
For years, I refused to go to the musée de la chasse et de la nature (Paris’ Hunting and Nature museum) despite many people telling me how great it was. Its theme really did not appeal to me. When I finally decided to give it a try, I expected to find sombre selection of weapons and hunting trophies. I was so wrong! I actually discovered a fun museum with innovative museography, combining objects from all time frames, including creative contemporary art displays. The Hunting and Nature Museum, situated in the Marais district, is currently closed for renovations, but will reopen in the autumn of 2020 – and I for one can’t wait to (re)discover it.
It is worth daring to walk into a museum or exhibition you are not initially drawn to. Beyond appreciation of beauty, art is about creating reactions, tapping into our curiosity and prompting us to question our way of looking at the world. Compare the experience to your preconceptions (or expectations), keep an open mind and interrogate what it is that you actually dislike & why… you might be pleasantly surprisedI!
Go see an exhibition with someone...
Over the years, I have visited museums & exhibitions with a range of different people. I enjoy seeing art through someone else’s eyes. I learn a lot by listening to someone talk to me about a piece and tell me why they like it – or indeed don’t like it. Having a fellow museum-goer also helps me to express my own thoughts and feelings more clearly.
The advantage of having company is in the many opportunities for discussion – before, during and after the visit. Talking about a work of art while looking at it helps us see details that might not have caught our attention otherwise, or make mental connections we may not have thought of. Besides, the point isn’t to agree but rather to bring the art to life through different viewpoints. This is, I think, what Pablo Picasso meant when he said: “A painting only lives through the person who looks at it”.
...or, if you are already used to having company, try going alone!
Personally, when I go to a museum or an exhibition, I like my peace & quiet and I hate feeling rushed. So having someone with me isn’t always the best option for me. Occasionally, nothing is better than being alone to enjoy the art, choose your own itinerary as you please, even if that means changing your mind along the way, dwelling on the pieces that inspire you, or moving swiftly if you are only in the mood for a quick stroll.
When I’m on my own, I will have fun selecting the artworks I would like to take home with me & place in my imaginary museum. Sometimes I purposely don’t read the labels so I can guess the titles or the artists. One of my favourite things to do is to let myself be inspired by a detail which I can draw or paint later. For me, this is one of the best ways to really get to know a painting. Below is an example of my own interpretation of the beautiful dog in Antonio Moro’s painting, Cardinal Granvelle’s Dwarf!
Take the time to visit s-l-o-w-l-y...
In Paris, like in any big city, life is fast-paced! We spend our days hurrying to get from one place to the next and it’s easy to get caught up in this process and to race through an exhibition at full speed, as if it were another task to be accomplished and checked off the to-do-list. Did you know that the average visitor spends only 15 seconds looking at a work of art?
There are many advantages to slowing down and leaving the works of art a bit of time to to reveal themselves to us. This is what we call “slow art” (by the way, I’m working of some fun projects on this topic in 2020!). To try this, take advantage of the late openings and quieter days & times and let yourself be drawn to a piece of art that attracts. Look at it mindfully for several minutes. Take the time to contemplate all the details, and notice your own sensations… you could be amazed at what you feel!
Seek out (and find!) art in unexpected places!
Have you noticed that when you visit a place of interest, a switch flips in our minds and we suddenly start paying attention to our surroundings. And as soon as we walk out through the exit, it’s all over and our gaze becomes automatic again. However, sometimes it is simply a question of looking up to discover hidden – or simply discreet – treasures!
Having done more walking recently, and taking some different routes, I found the most beautiful sculpted details by just gazing up at the buildings around me. I promised myself to start again as often as possible! What’s more, in Paris, architecture very often coexists with street art, making a refreshing, free and accessible open-air art gallery! In 2020, there will be opportunities to discover this creative & fun urban heritage during art tours in various districts of Paris (subscribe to my newsletter to stay tuned).
Going through my suggestions, it seems that many of them are about opening our eyes and being conscious of our surroundings in order to get inspired! What are your artistic resolutions for 2020?