One of the great thing about traveling is seeing new things. I was able to go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) nine days ago and was pleased with the building, display and with the special exhibition of William Kentridge. Kentridge is an intriguing artist whose work is probably best suited to a museum where you can see a lot of it, particularly his video installations. I can’t say his images touch me profoundly, but I did enjoy watching his videos.
There is English furniture from the 18th century that is probably better seen in museums than anywhere else. On Thursday, I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington, London and looked, again, at the famous wall hanging, padauk veneered and ivory inset medal cabinet made by William Hallett for Horace Walpole. It is a really lovely little object that I would love to own and even more to sell, but it is such a spectacular thing, that I think it best for it to be in a museum.
Contemporary art is intriguing for its utter lack of discipline. Of course, aficionados will say that I have an untrained eye, among other things, and that if I don’t understand it, I should move on. My problem, if one could call it that, is that I want to look at things that don’t necessitate any intellectual baggage, meaning that I want my art to look good, not require a handbook to understand. Could the same criticism be leveled at English furniture? It could to some extent and therein lies a rub for all of the arts. You have to get into it first and then you can be a critic.