Thursday, March 5, 2009

Overheard in the Gallery

"I may not know much about art, but I know what I like."

If I had a loonie for every time I've heard this, I'd be able to buy....maybe not a Peter Doig, but I am sure you catch my drift.

I think what many people mean when they say "I know what I like" is "I like what I know". The real rewards come from exploring the edges of what you know, and then stepping beyond those edges. Contrary to the conventional image of the "unapproachable gallerist", most are very happy to talk about their passion to anyone who expresses even the slightest interest. So, when you visit a gallery, ask questions: you'll have more fun!

E.H. Gombrich ("The Story of Art") approached the question of taste in a characteristically gracious manner:

"The old proverb that you cannot argue about matters of taste may well be true, but that should not conceal the fact that taste can be developed. This is a matter of common experience which everybody can test in a modest field. To people who are not used to drinking tea one blend may taste exactly like the other. But if they have the leisure, will and opportunity to search out such refinements as there may be, they may develop into true 'connoisseurs' who can distinguish exactly what type and mixture they prefer, and their greater knowledge is bound to add to their enjoyment of the choicest blend."

(If Gombrich had used 'scotch' as his example rather than 'tea', then I'd have succeeded in mentioning 'scotch' twice in this blog in less than a month. There now, I've done it!).

By the way, a loonie is currently worth about three quarters of a U.S. dollar, and a little more than half a Euro.

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