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value in Barnes

Grace Zhou's picture

    Barnes foundation protects the “art”, the true art itself and the pure way we evaluate them. After reflecting on how we value the arts nowadays, I respect Barnes ideas more- the arts should not be hung on the wall of a museum individually but serve as the lessons that can educate and inspire people. Thus, Barnes is not a simple place collecting many priceless arts, but a brave knight who insists in purifying and simplifying the purpose of art and how we interact with it.

    Most of contemporary people show more respect to those paintings by famous artists. It’s easy to find many tourists in the museum with the headphones from audio tours inserted in their ears. They keep nodding their heads, just like agreeing with the authorities of evaluating arts. Following the step the tour suggested, they scan over the paintings carelessly but at same time, they act like the experts who grasp large amount of the knowledge of analyzing the arts. Just like the tourists visiting the Grand Canyon, these people, “instead of looking at it (Percy)”, they try to “come face to face with an authentic sight.... and that they see the sight and come away rewarded? (Percy)” In other words, it is increasingly evident that people view the arts which are supposed to be worthy.

    So what kind of arts is worth visiting? Most of people will say the “Mona Lisa” hanging on the wall of Musée du Louvre by Leonardo da Vinci is worth visiting. But why is that? It is because of the true aesthetic and educational value the artist truly wants to express, or is it because of the fame of this painting which is assessed for insurance worth 760 million in 2012? It is a pity that for many people, the arts worth for their price value. The art is no longer the art as it is confronted, it is rather a thing be valued through the auctioned price, the widespread fame and advertisement of tourism (Percy). “ A few seconds, a few photographs and 15 seconds of excitement (Gentleman)” is how people value and treat this priceless and aesthetic masterpiece. In a world where develop rapidly, our pure view of the art and aesthetic was swamped in pop culture with fast food, limited time, and frivolous attitude. What we see in the art is not itself, but the fame and price outside it.

    What is more, the museum distorts the way we interact with the arts. Instead, with the seven digits of insurance price, tens of black suite securities, crowds of visitors striving to take the photos, the famous art in the museum enjoy a special treatment, status and respect even higher than the human. They are separated from people’s experience because of their price. Visitors will be proud to boast their experience of viewing an expensive and famous painting but in fact, hardly can they say what they have interacted and got from the arts. I think that’s why Dewey said “ it has esthetic standing only as the work becomes an experience for a human being.” For experiencing and understanding an art, it’s necessary for people to interact with it directly and equally but not just being like a holy pilgrim swamped in the enormous admiration.

    Thus, it is easy to understand the importance and the brilliance in Barnes belief- the art is an educational process, not a tour, not an “experience waiting to be certified as genie (Percy)”. It is a lesson when I visited Barnes foundation, inspiring and illuminating. Just like what Dewey has said: “life goes on in an environment; not merely in it but because of it, through interaction with it.” By setting the paintings and sculptures together, what people experience is immersed in a world that comes to them directly and purely. It is a whole environment where those paintings are connected and the viewer is a piece in it. It is fortunate for the arts that they still have the people who understand them and value them for what they really are. Barnes doesn’t want people just be like the tourists who come and go, because art is a lesson encourages people to think and learn. When Barnes purchases those arts, they are not expensive and famous. It is the pure educational value in these arts that Barnes find priceless and worth collecting. His foundation reflects his spirit in pure evaluating the arts. So what he really tries to do is not simply to limit people and deny making money, but more importantly, is a way and spirit that protect the direct art value and the purity of how we respect the arts. 

    It reminds me those innocent eyes of the Postman from Van Gogh in Barnes. Different from the messy and thick mustache and uneven colors on the cheek, the eyes are so beautiful and clear. Just like the time when it is not popular and not “worthy” to portrait a lower class, it is abnormal for Van Gogh to paint the portrait for the postman; Barnes collect the arts which were viewed as valueless and ugly. It is the real power of the art, not related to the price. The great arts art is not created for the fame or the price, but itself has something to express and inspire. The clear blue eyes are just like the pure and innocent heart of Barnes, who values the essence of the art. The art involves the subversion (Flanagan). I think it makes more sense to me now. In a some how material world, arts and those artist (Barnes) still stick to their true belief and freewill. Maybe that’s what we can learn from the educational aspect from the art also-innocence and purity.

    From collecting the arts to placing them in order, from the original artists to Barnes, the idea of the value of art and how we value it is passed to the viewer like us. The art can’t be valued just by its fame and price; it shines not because of the value people give, but because of its pure beauty and spirit. Also, the real way to respect an art is how we treat ourselfves- spend time with it and listen to what it wants to say.

Works Cited

Dewey, John. "The Live Creature." Art as Experience. New York: Minton, Balch &, 1934. N. pag. Print.

Gentleman, Amelia. "Smile, Please." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 Oct. 2004. Web. 07 Dec. 2013.

Percy, Walker. “Loss of creature.”