You’ve probably heard of the Stendhal syndrome, named for the famous French author who detailed his experience of being overcome with emotion by the immense beauty of Florentine art. In 1979 an Italian psychiatrist finally gave the syndrome its official name after reporting nearly 100 tourists at the Galleria degli Uffizi had fainted – some sent to hospital when their heads hit the hard marble floor. Personally I have never actually swooned from viewing a painting, but I do get a bit light-headed at the sight of Michelangelo’s David.
Art: The Good, the Bad and….
Unfortunately there won’t be any swooning happening here. You see, at the base of the rock that I live on, in front of the town’s train station sits a sculpture in a fountain. This “work of art” makes a very strong first impression to visitors arriving by rail on their way up to town. It is my understanding (I did some asking around) that the artist is internationally renowned and important enough that the City commissioned not one, but two of his works for installation. I don’t get it. I can’t even describe the fountain to you without using terms that would make a 9 year old boy collapse in a heap of laughter at my “potty” humor. Fortunately no one really cares what I think about the fountain, and why should they? Who the hell am I to judge the merits of a piece of art? What I know about art couldn’t fill an espresso cup. Art, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Enough said.
Well Toni…On my one trip to Orvieto to date I didn’t arrive by train but I’m thinking that might have been a good thing…. Suffice to say I see what you see. Or rather wish you didn’t have to see!! I’ve certainly suffered art overload in my time too. It’s easier to pace yourself when you’re in a city for a while. But I guess there are worse ways to go….
Oh and that you know the art you don’t like makes you as worthy a critic as anyone Toni. Anzi!!! Jxx
Janine. Yes, I DO know what I don’t like, I am pretty clear about that! When you come to visit me from Perugia, I will meet you at the station and we’ll sit in the sunshine, next to this fountain and have a picnic lunch…okay maybe not lunch…Hugs. toni
As a graduate of two art schools (and culinary schools) and having studied Fine Arts in Italy and Sicily I think I just might know why so much modern art isn’t aesthetically inspiring, that being is most modern artists have not had a classical education when it comes to writing, poetry, history, music, etc. (even art!!) as did the artists of yore, hence much of what should excite our imaginations and souls never makes the grade; most modern art and architecture is just plain leaden and dour, dour, dour. The new term for modern architecture is Brutalism, one just has to see the effects of such buildings in Europe and the States that have been built in centers of beautiful charming old towns, it’s truly brutal and far from the immature belief that it’s progressive and has something to impart to our soul and intellect. Looking at the works of the Renaissance artist one’s mind is excited at many levels plus one’s able to discern that the artist knew music, literature, poetry, etc., all this collective knowledge enters into the viewer’s psyche and allows a wonderful non-leaden experience that allows the viewer to soar (hence the fainting?). In the future our period in history shall be called for sure The Lugubrious Age, just one look at the pictured fountain proves that point. Thank you for the photos and article!
Gian, your comments are very stimulating. I like the words dour, brutal, and especially, lugubrious; refreshing art criticism in themselves. If that superficial little fountain elicits such verbosity I wonder what an Andy Warhol would provoke.
Very funny and wonderful post! Especially for me, the wife of a psychiatrist. Very very fortunately, there still is no medication for Stendhal syndrome. (People will just have to suffer through that one — and how great is that!) Thanks for this.
Barbara…yes, a terrible cross humanity has to bear. Today I just went to see Davide again and got all misty and mushy. Let’s hope your husband never finds a cure! In the presence of genius how can one keep their cool? Thanks for writing and visiting my blog. Keep in touch. Toni