What do you do when it is the Dutch national museum weekend? You visit a museum of course! My boyfriend and I both never went to the Cobra museum: for both of us actually a remarkable fact. Me; because, for 5 years I studied quite near the museum, him; for he’s a Karel Appel fan. So it was time to set things right; we went to the Cobra,..
Since I’ve never been to the Cobra before, I actually can’t tell a thing about the ‘normal’ collection. The normal collection probably will be cool, but the collection today was awesome, for the Cobra got more than 44 abstract masterpieces on loan from the Guggenheim, New York!
Because it was such a rare opportunity to see the paintings from the Guggenheim, this time I decided I wanted to observe art from a different perspective. Different from the way I usually observe art. For I usually first read the additional information, before I look at the work of art. I’m a cognitive viewer. I want to know where to look at, I want to know who painted it, why he painted it, I want to know how he painted it and I want to know the philosophy behind the painting. And lately, I got the feeling this cognitive viewing is not quite how art should be viewed. Also, if I would enter the Cobra Museum with this intention, I probably would get dissapointed, for cobra-art is meant to be spontaneous; deprived of any intellectual meaning.So this time, I wanted to view the artifacts from my own perspective; free from the urge to know, in order to be able to feel the art.
Did I succeed? Not quite. When I was watching this abstract statue, lots of things went through my mind. For I actually didn’t think of it as abstract. For me, it was quite obvious it resembled a succulent. But it turned out it didn’t. As soon as I turned my head to read the additional information and the name of the artifact, I found out it was called ‘Cock’ (rooster in French). I couldn’t help feeling a bit baffled. I had the intention to experience art better by not-knowing, but right now I experienced art better by knowing it’s name! For if you look at it, knowing it resembles a rooster, the shape of the artifact touches you, while it didn’t while you thought it was a succulent. Or well,.. I could just as well be the only one who had this weird experience, of course.
But while sometimes reading the additional information helps me experience the artwork better, I naturally could predict this would not work at all times. I had the weirdest experience today when I encountered this painting: Untitled from Cy Twombly. I like modern art. I like abstract art, I like looking at it and experience the clash between my own interpretation and the interpretation of the artist,.. Or the bewilderment when I find out that the artist had no goal or purpose whatsoever by creating the artwork. But this was weird. I just had to look at the accompanying text, for I couldn’t interpret this painting in any way.
But I wish I didn’t read the information. The additional text told me this was pure sex, complicated by the hermetic language of numbers and charts. I mean;… no words,.. I’m totally speechless. Sex? This? I guess this time I really should not have read any information, this time I really got punished for not following my own plan.