We’re a couple of weeks into our time in Florence, Italy amidst the Florence Light Festival (F-Light Festival). For a month (December 8-January 8) the monuments of the city are lit up with superb light shows. On a walk down the Arno River tonight, my wife and I stopped to take in the lights displayed on Ponte Vecchio. Amidst the varied art pieces projected onto the bridge came this quote:
“All art has been contemporary.”
I’ve never thought about it that way. This year I’ve spent time in the Louvre, the MET, the Vatican, the museum of the Roman forum, the Academia, the Uffizi and at least a dozen Medieval churches across Europe and it has never occurred to me that all that art was at one time considered contemporary.
Typically, I try to avoid the contemporary or modern art exhibits of museums. The exhibits seem ill-formed and meaningless. I too often struggle to find the value or beauty in them. But then I came across a Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm at the MET. Amidst the chaos of his work is depth and beauty not just a bunch of paint splattered on a canvas. I didn’t find myself saying something stupid like, “Well, anyone could do that” or “What is that supposed to be?” Instead, I found myself stopping and taking a deeper look.
Maybe that’s the point?
All art, stories and lives have been contemporary. Van Gogh died unrecognized by the art world yet we now consider him a master of his craft. What if he quit because his contemporaries found little value in his work? Having spent time in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and seeing his work in several other museums, I’d consider it a loss if he’d have quit his craft due to lacking validity from people of his day.
Your life is contemporary. As is your work and your story. Maybe it’s even art? Maybe? Does it stop you in your tracks? Should it? Are you asking questions of yourself that make you pause? Are you stretching into the unknown taking a deeper look into the world around you? What would it look like if you did?