One way is when you look at your son’s Art of the Western World book, which he is reading for AP Modern European History, and try to determine how many of the paintings and sculptures you have seen in person. The answer, for the Renaissance until the mid-20th century, is well over half. (It would be over two-thirds, but I have never been to Italy.) In some periods, it rises to as much to 5/6 (I’ve seen a lot of “Golden Age” Dutch painting).
You’re an even bigger snob when you mentally correct the locations attributed to the paintings. In 1989, the year that the book was published, The Musee d’Orsay had been open for three years, and a number of the Impressionist and later works listed as being in the Louvre would have been in the Orsay instead. Picasso’s Guernica was returned to Spain in 1981, and therefore could not have been hanging in MOMA in New York in 1989.
That’s being an art snob. Being an art lover is looking at those same pictures as though they were old friends and feeling longing and melancholy that so many of them are so far away and you won’t be able to visit them again for a long time, if ever. And trying to figure out how to get to Italy to see the Uffizi and Vatican collections, and Vienna and Oslo to see paintings by two of your favorite painters whose works you’ve never seen in person (Klimt and Munch, respectively).
Hmmm…. Frequent flyer tickets to New York aren’t that much. Four days should do it — two for the Met, one each for the Guggenheim and MOMA…. No, five, I forgot the Frick. Pity I couldn’t schedule a day’s layover in Chicago. It wouldn’t be enough time, but would give me a chance to revisit the Art Institute briefly. I went to the National Gallery in D.C. last January, so I can wait a while before I go there again. Of course, there is always driving down to L.A. for the Getty — I wonder what exhibitions are showing? Next April they begin a show on photography and the “cult of celebrity,” which looks really interesting. And …