Dec 17, 2008

Five Works of Art that define: Me

Well boys and girls, it's that time again where we examine five things that have shaped us in some way. This evening I write about what I love the best, second to writing: art. Having mainly studied art and have inspired by it since I was very young, thanks to my amazing grandpa, here are the five top pieces of art that, everytime I see them, they connect with me. So, in order of importance, here they are:

1) At the Moulin Rouge • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
This, for me, is it. IT. The most amazing, wonderful, demented piece of art I have ever laid my eyes on. There is something about this piece that speaks to me in a way that not one other work of art has ever done for me. It is dark. The weird woman at the bottom right corner is the star of the show. I feel the decadence, the mood... I just feel everything about it. As a young girl I connected with it because of its weirdness, sort of speak. I always gravitated to the weird, to the unconventional, the crazy... the perfect imperfect was my cup of tea. That green woman, eerie... Whoa. If you meet me sometime and you get to ask me what painting I would have liked to do, this is it, my friends.

2) Water Lilies • Claude Monet
I just grew up with this one. Um, let me explain. You get the normal speech when you grow up: study hard, work hard and then you will be able to do the things you love and see the world. I could never grasp that idea completely until I stood at the MoMa and saw this painting for the very first time. I can remember it vividly - and everytime I go to NYC I usually run to the museum so that I can remember that experience - I walked in the room where this wonder is and I just... I just started crying. It was so grand, so beautiful, more than when you see it on a book. I just wept like a little girl, just because it meant, for some strange reason, that I grew up and now I had the chance to see the world. Maybe it was for seeing it on book after book and thinking... will I ever see this in person, out of the page and in real life? It was amazing.

3) La Gioconda (Mona Lisa) • Leonardo da Vinci
I was ten years old. My grandpa tells me (absolutely true story): "You are taking a month off school. Don't worry, we talked to the School's Director and told her what we are doing. You will travel with us to Paris, London and Germany with us. This will be your learning experience, and trust me you will learn more this way that you will ever learn in a month".

My grandfather is the single one person who has inspired me in my career as no other human being in the whole wide world. This piece of art reminds me of him now and forever. Why? He took me to the Louvre in that trip. When we got to the Mona Lisa, the room was filled with people. He raised me with his arms and told me - this is it, look at it. I can remember his words, verbatim: "Now, look at her eyes". I said, ok. "Now walk to the left and to the right, keep looking at her". I did. The woman kept her eyes on me, no matter where I walked. It was, to a 10 year old, simply magic. My grandpa gave me a truly magical moment with no computers, no technology... It was wonderful. Last sunday I heard him talk about Impressionism and thought: this man is a genius. I love that Gioconda because it will always carry my grandpa inside her eyes.

4) The Campbell's Soup Can • Andy Warhol
Everything is art. Even graphic design. Warhol gave me inspiration because when I learned that the can was designed by him, I thought: whoa. Normal, everyday stuff is also beautiful. He designed that can in a way that I don't know if it can be truly revised completely (think Pepsi can). This fact inspired me to become a graphic artist. The thing is, the copywriter thing happened by accident. I had a great teacher that told me that I could write very well (thanks to Grandpa again) and that I should consider being a writer first. Little did I know that my desire to design had to be fought with one of my bosses. He didn't allow me to design anything, so I had to figure out a way to make him think some designs were made by my coworkers and not by me. In time, I became a copywriter/designer. I like that. And it all comes down to a can of soup, if you can believe that.

5) GuĂ©rnica • Pablo Picasso
There is a reason why I left Picasso for last. I despise the man with passion. He was a deadbeat dad... that left a legacy like no other. He was a copycat... but a visionary. He was an asshole to women... but inspired by them. He had an ego that no one could bear... but unlimited talent as well. In fact, it makes me angry to admit this, but this piece of art told me that deconstructing was also art. In many ways it makes me confused. Why? Does that mean that any idiot can draw or paint badly and they should be regarded as artists? I copied this piece of art many times when I was in high school and college. Should I be then regarded as having the same talent because I could do this piece? Nah. The rule, in my book, is simple: if you can draw perfectly and paint perfectly then you are allowed to deconstruct. You have to know how to build in order to take it all down. Damn Picasso. He's that man that you love to hate.

So there you are. I promise that this exercise will take a long time. Take all the time in the world but try to figure out yours. You'll be amazed at what you find inside, trust me.

PS: I have also an admiration for the NYC Subway design. Those simple black boxes with the line on top and the all powerful Helvetica is simply art to me. The thing is, these five previous pieces speak a little bit more for sentimental reasons. But I had to note that one down as well...


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