The artwork speaks to me

December 11, 2016

modigliani-seated-nude-with-a-shirt

On a rainy Saturday afternoon in October, I feel the siren lure of a Modigliani mounted on an austere white wall. The painting is part of a three-floor exhibition of nudes by the likes of Matisse, Warhol, Lichtenstein, and many others on exhibition at the Gagosian’s Upper East Side gallery.

As is my wont, I forgo the printed-out guide and go straight to the substance. I don’t recognize the Modigliani right away. Not until I connect it to another of his works across the room, bearing a signature the other lacks.

I take in art the same way I read books or ingest food: in rapid bursts, with gusto, swallowing before I’ve fully finished chewing. As if there is no time to waste, because often, there isn’t.

Yet there are moments when I slow down. When all the other paintings, sculptures, installations, and fellow gallery-goers fade into the background, leaving me and a single work of art alone together. Time decelerates. My breathing relaxes. The artwork speaks to me in a language I understand.

Sarah Weinman
The Year in Addition and Subtraction

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