“A room hung with pictures is a room hung round with thoughts.”– Sir Joshua Reynolds
Isn’t there something delicious in innocent pleasures portrayed when they’re presented so smartly as to add layers of meaning to the viewing? Whether for comic effect, sexual innuendo (oftentimes both–see opposite) or even as the layers of meaning unfold; beauty, innocence, objects of desire (or even just objects) these layers do add to our pleasure as the viewer.
Recently the Los Angeles County Museum of Art acquired Thomas Eakins’ 1899 painting, “The Wrestlers”, his last genre painting, his last sport painting and his last consideration of the male nude. Here’s a painting (click here to read more and to see an image) that delivers in much the same way that the Chuck Jones* pastiche of 18th century pleasures does. “The Wrestlers” offers layers of meaning as each viewer brings their own history to bear on the scene depicted. Allowing yourself the pleasure of uncovering those layers of meaning, allowing yourself to dig deep inside your psyche, allowing yourself to discover emotions…all these are parts of the process that art gives us. As Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
*To learn more about the work of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, please click here. They’re celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2009 and have begun a fundraising drive–you can contribute online at this link.