A Meditation on Art - Perspectives from The Artist's Road

A Meditation on Art

Perspectives from The Artist's Road

The Harvesters, 1565, Pieter Bruegel the Elder
The Harvesters          1565          Pieter Bruegel the Elder

   If you haven’t had the opportunity to read All the Beauty in the World - The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me by Patrick Bringley, we encourage you to pick it up.

   While attempting to navigate the grief of losing his 27-year old brother to cancer, Bringley (two years younger) gave up a promising position at the New Yorker to immerse himself in the most beautiful place he knew—the Metropolitan Museum of Art—as a security guard. He writes, “My heart is full, my heart is breaking, and I badly want to stand still a while.”

   Throughout his ten years at the museum, Bringley immersed himself in the immense diversity of paintings, sculptures, religious relics, antiquities. He found in them insights, both healing and piercing. He found a rhythm in his daily work that restored his equilibrium.

   More than a personal memoir, Bringley also gives us interesting behind-scenes glimpses of the workings of the Met—its 2.5 million square feet and more than two million objects; its carpenters, art conservators and 600 guards (more than half of which are foreign-born.) We learn what that blue patch on the wall is in many rooms.

   But perhaps what most struck us in reading All the Beauty in the World was Bringley’s reverence for the power of art. He writes about Pieter Bruegel’s The Harvesters (1565), “I responded to that great painting in a way that I now believe is fundamental to the peculiar power of art. Namely, I experienced the great beauty of the picture even as I had no idea what to do with that beauty. I couldn’t discharge the feeling by talking about it—there was nothing much to say. What was beautiful in the painting was not like words, it was like paint—silent, direct, and concrete, resisting translation even into thought. As such, my response to the picture was trapped inside me, a bird fluttering in my chest . . . As a guard, I will be watching countless visitors respond in their own ways to the curious feeling."

   The Metropolitan with its seven million visitors a year, provided Bringley with a safe haven for reflection, and he reminds us that this is true for all of us. He writes, “I think sometimes we need permission to stop and adore, and a work of art grants us that.”

Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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