Ramnath Subramanian: Fine arts are an important component in education

By Ramnath Subramanian / Guest Columnist for the El Paso Times

POSTED: 09/18/2014 12:00:00 AM MDT

Vasari wrote that "after seeing Michelangelo's 'David,' no one need wish to look at any other sculpture or the work of any other artist."

At the Galleria dell'Academia in Florence, my wife, Maria, and I spent nearly an hour in front of David, trying to absorb its sheer dimension, impeccable form, and gravitas.

When one looks at great art and comes under its influence, the world simply melts away, and the mind becomes fully engaged in trying to discover the means and temperament by which a stone was chipped away to reach such perfection and beauty.

In looking at David, we forget our age and the length of the cosmos. Art is long, but life is short.

At the gallery, I struck up a conversation with a woman who was on an extended tour of Italy with her daughter.

"How lucky are the Italians that they have all these great works of art in their backyard," the mother said.

"I envy them," I responded. "On any given day, at any given time, they can go to the Piazza della Signoria, sit on the steps of the Loggia, and watch the world go by in the company of Cellini's Perseus."

The daughter interposed a comment here: "David once stood in the Piazza, open to the public. I just can't imagine what that must have been like." She went on to tell me that Cellini worked 10 years on the bronze statue of Perseus.

"Your daughter knows a lot about art," I said.

Before the mother could respond, the daughter said, "I am a big Caravaggio fan. I can't wait for us to get to Rome. Do you know there are two Caravaggio masterpieces in the Santa Maria del Popolo, free to the public. How cool is that?"

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