Take it Slowly

drawing cast

A statistical study has found that museum visitors currently spend an average of 15 seconds in front of a work of art.

All too often, most visitors do not stop in front of the work to look at it, but ‘pass’ in front of it by seeing it through the screen of their smartphone or camera. All this is incredible. In essence, most people who visit a museum, even if they spend a few hours in that place, when they leave they haven’t looked at anything.

The ideal contemplation of a work of art requires careful viewing in order to follow up personal reflections that should emerge through a sort of intimate conversation with the work we are looking at. All this process requires time, a minimum amount of time useful to ourselves in order to assimilate and elaborate what we are seeing.

This extremely widespread hurried attitude that now pervades the masses is certainly due to the acceleration of modern life. Rush is a collective status. Everything runs fast, every human contact is reduced to short messages, meetings are fleeting and solutions are extremely quick. The message of speed is now proposed and perceived by many as synonymous of efficiency.

The bombardment of images that we have been subjected daily for years by the media, social networks and in the streets of our cities leaves us in the end totally helpless. 

It’s true, we are all victims in some way, this is the communication system of our era. 

But why? Who’s imposing it on us? 

If after visiting an art gallery we return at home without having taken any pictures, it will not be a tragedy, but rather we will take away a wealth of emotions, considerations and inspirations that will inevitably enrich us.

Art does not ask for a fleeting approach, it is not born for a quick contact but on the contrary art exalts us when it finds us in that condition of calm contemplation in our silent wandering. 

“Don’t rush Art!” admonishes the old restorer in the movie Toy Story II, calming the anxious soul of the collector waiting to see the rarest piece in his collection renewed. 

Exactly. ‘Don’t rush Art.’

I have also noticed that most people devote time to the big museums only on a vacation or short trip, forgetting to do so in their own city while totally ignoring the small galleries, the lesser known museums, the small provincial collections.

My suggestion is to make a commitment to Art. 

Offer yourself in a serious and faithful way, dedicating time to every single monument or museum, starting from your own city, elaborating on what you are learning, searching and deepening your knowledge by following a thread of personal interest. Exploring even the smallest artistic realities by involving friends or one’s own children, allowing the personal impressions of each to emerge. 

And again, discover art through craftsmanship, visiting the old workshops, the real ones, usually hidden and dusty.

The best way to understand art, to understand its message, to perceive man’s different outlook through the ages is to practice drawing. Copying a painting or a sculpture is the best way we have to look at the artwork in front of us. To ‘look’ through our drawing is to know, to assimilate and to give back. It doesn’t matter what technical skills we have but what counts is being able to ‘see’. 

Not to look but to ‘see’.

The best places are precisely the museums that are less frequented by the masses, the small galleries and, as far as statuary is concerned, the gypsum collections.

Young students and the most demanding artists, drawing from the plaster copy in the cast collections, find the ideal environment to enter into an intimate and direct condition with the work. In this context the inhibitions due to the comparison with the ‘original work’ disappear. If drawing the Nike of Samothrace inhibits you, if drawing the Venus of Milo in silence is impossible, if copying the Laocoon in the frenzy of the crowd is a utopia, well, try to do it in a gallery of plaster casts. 

The plaster casts manifest themselves with all their truth, revealing to the observer the forms and surfaces in their real condition. In this way of looking at things, in this type of approach, plaster cast collections represent the best place to discover the beauty that man has made over at least twenty centuries. 

The gipsoteche or cast galleries are the best place to enjoy the right atmosphere, the light, the calm and the space ideal for a direct comparison with more or less known artworks. In the cast gallery, the simultaneous presence of many works of art in direct comparison offers a further interesting starting point, often unique and not possible in most monumental museums. 

The study of a work of art often requires several drawing session that the free entrance in the cast gallery (also allowed by some museums) makes possible without overspending or time restrictions. 

We can do the same in open air, with sketching sessions in quiet corners of squares and parks, the important thing is not to be in a hurry, to take all the time necessary, to slow down.

Take it Slowly.