Art galleries house the finest achievements that a civilization has to offer. When all is said and done, human beings do have to offer themselves more than eating mating and sleeping. They can create things of beauty and these last beyond the lives of individuals, and become part of a culture. That is why people will stand for hours outside the Uffizi gallery waiting for a glimpse of the works of world famous art.
Major art galleries attract huge crowds who gaze upon famous works of art that have a life of their own beyond the wood or canvas that they are drawn upon. In creating a masterpiece the artist has gone beyond daubing and has created a work that meets what Shakespeare meant when he wrote in the final couplet of his sonnet: So long as men can breathe and eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.’
It is said that when Verspronck painted the ‘Girl in Blue’ he saw his model not as the girl that she was but as the woman that she was to become. The painting itself shows the expression of an older woman in the face of a child. It illustrates how an artist can see and create a truth which is far beyond the immediate present.
Although Van Gogh was unconventional and divergent in his real life his art has outlasted him and taken on a life of its own. Artists often seem to be divergent characters but ironically their work can become the arbiter of what is important about the society in which they live. Art galleries are places where the works of these people are preserved.
Art thieves are depraved, but not only because they take what does not belong to them. Their real depravity lies in the fact that they trample on beauty and truth for its commercial value only. The person who buys a badly painted and sentimental representation may display better taste than the billionaire who invests in a famous panting without any appreciation of the art.
But despite the fact that art is not really about money many artists have been good business people and many wealthy people are genuinely appreciative of art for its own sake.
There are people who argue that nothing can equal the experience of seeing an original masterpiece hanging in a gallery. Outside the Uffizi gallery will be many professional artists who may have taught art from picture books for many years. Seeing the original of a work that they already know intimately will be a thrilling experience.
The thrill of viewing masterpieces hung in famous galleries does not preclude the wonderful opportunities now afforded by the internet to visit online galleries. From a military outpost in Afghanistan one can pay a virtual visit to the Louvre and approach the Mona Lisa from a distant to a close up view. Details may be examined in the company of experts who explain interesting details such as the crack in the poplar frame that could be missed on an actual visit. Less well known art galleries may also be accessed online and works that appeal may be purchased, and posted to Afghanistan from America or Poland.