An imperfect comparison, though I am not exactly sure why.
A person who is tone deaf cannot make up a tune. Or maybe they can, but they are unable to sing it. Let’s leave it the first way, if only for the smoothness of the narrative, which is not a good reason but I’m making the rules.
A person who is tone deaf cannot make up a tune.
But a person who cannot draw can make up a cartoon.
(Homonym, irrelevant but fun.)
This thought came to me as I recalled an idea for a cartoon I thought up while visiting The Museum of Modern Art in New York. I imagined exactly what it would look like. But, belying the familiar dictum, “If you can see it, you can draw it” – which may not be familiar at all; I may have just made it up – I could not begin to commit it successfully – or at all, really – to paper.
I guess the two are just different.
Anyway – and my apologies for the inapt – or is it inept – comparison –
I have enjoyed many visits to art galleries. The Louvre. The Borghese Gallery in Rome. The Wallace Collection in London. (Though that may have been less for the art than for the armor and medieval weaponry on the Ground Floor.) And yet, despite numerous visits to numerous galleries, I remain as ignorant about art as if I had visited no art galleries at all.
It just goes in one eye and out the other.
For me, viewing “The Great Paintings” on display is like Fifty First Dates.
“You said that the last time you saw it.”
“It was magnificent then too.”
(Wanting to learn, I bought a book about the world’s great paintings called “The Short Story of Art.” My next step is to read it.)
Anyway, I am in The Museum of Modern Art, doing what everyone else is doing.
Looking at the paintings.
Though, I instantly observe that I am doing it differently than many of the other visitors.
Who are really looking at the paintings!
You know that look. They stand there motionless, staring at some masterpiece, absently rubbing their chins with their right hands. (“Lefties” may differ. I have not attempted the research.)
And they stand there for a really long time. Making me feel generically deficient for briskly moving along.
They seem so earnest. Or so knowledgeable. Or more innately sensitive than I am.
I’m going with “earnest.” That one’s on them.
Anyway, either from boredom, envy or because that’s just what I do, I imagine an alternate scenario.
It’s the same “Art Lover”, adopting that traditional “Art Lover’s” pose.
Except instead of studying a painting in the gallery,
They are in a corridor between show rooms…
Studying the elevator.
It’s like, ”Look at that door! Those illuminated numbers! The perfectly placed “Up” and “Down” buttons! It’s exquisite!”
Later, an alternate version comes to mind, which may be easier to execute. An “Art Lover” adopting “The Pose” contemplates a fire extinguisher, hanging between a Monet and a Matisse.
And then… amidst the self-congratulatory delight of being me…
It occurs to me that I may not have made up “The Fire Extinguisher” but may have actually seen it in a cartoon.
Call it “Subliminal Plagiarism.”
I wonder if regular artists worry about that.
REGULAR ARTIST: “Am I the first one painting this lake?”
THE LAKE: “Yeah, like you’re the first one who noticed me shimmering.”
Oh, well. At least “The Elevator” is mine. Though who knows?
I thought “The Fire Extinguisher” was mine too.
(A little “snaky”, this one. Sometimes, that’s just how they come out.)