Ten Minutes

At an exhibition, one often casts but a glance at each painting. Our enjoyment is based on the retina transmitting an instant impression before being attracted by the next delight.
Looking for a full ten minutes at a single painting is already considered a lot of time (with usually over 100 paintings per exhibition, and 10 minutes for each other painting, one ought to spend 16.5 hours at the average exhibition).

And yet, 10 minutes spent in front of a superb painting .... is nothing. And everything!! 10 minutes standing there, enchanted, entranced by the leaves of a tree, by dancing light patches, by the tangible atmosphere of a breathing nature.

The painter himself, we can read, used to set off for entire days in the countryside to observe patiently the myriad of light effects, “laying in the fields from dawn till night , in order to learn to represent with precision the breaking of day, the sunrise and sunset, the evening hours”.

Today's cameras are probably better equipped to exploit all optical laws to faithfully render a landscape – but could they also convey the enchantment of laying in the fields for entire days from dawn till night?

From the catalogue
“Le peintre Joachim von Sandrart rapporte qu’ils partaient ensemble des jours entiers pour observer les effets du soleil sur le paysage, se préparant ainsi à rendre avec acuité la nature particulière de la lumière matinale ou les effets du coucher du soleil.”
““Il cherchait avec tous les moyens à pénétrer les secrets de la nature, étendu dans les champs, de l’aube à la nuit, afin d’apprendre à représenter avec exactitude la naissance du jour, le lever et le coucher du soleil, les heures du soir” “


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this last sentence!
At the Fondazione Longhi in Florence I saw a most beautiful little landscape by Claude, just a strong old tree against dusky golden evening light - it has fascinated me ever since.

ffflaneur said...

óók een soort van geestelijke oefening - het kijken naar een landschap van Claude ...

Roxana said...

it may sound as a plaidoyer pro domo :-) but though i totally agree with you, i think there is a certain depth and a certain truth as well in the way a camera is bound to fleetingness - not only superficiality (as opposed to the painter's work as you put it here in this post).
or no? :-)

ffflaneur said...

hey dear R - i very much like te way you put that: "a certain truth in the way a camera is bound to fleetingness"

a moment - an image : thus perhaps, despite the 'machinery', more intimately sharing our human transience?