I am an art appreciator appreciator. I really could not tell you the difference between good art and bad, but I love being able to see art through the eyes of someone who appreciates it. Going to the Uffitzi with Madeline Pitcock changed my view of art in a significant way.
I knew when we were walking in to the incredible museum that I was unworthy of seeing what I was about to see. There are people who spend a lifetime studying the art I would be walking past without having a clue as to what it was. Therefore, I grabbed Madeline, saw the light in her eyes, and I said teach me. Madeline was quick to share her knowledge of the art in a hilarious and insightful way. She told me to look at the baby Jesus’s and notice their unrealistic proportions and stiff nature. Then as we walked through the museum past the dark ages and noticed how when the Enlightenment brought back art from ancient civilization, the art got so much better. The baby Jesus’s were more realistic and all the human bodies possessed movement and correct proportions. Madeline roasted the art from the dark ages, but ultimately she helped me understand art as a linear human process that builds on the work from before and progresses with time if history is preserved.
After what felt like miles of white Jesus in nice clothes hanging from a cross with no blood and a six pack, we walked into the room full of the work of Caravaggio. Madeline’s face lit up when she saw this art, and she explained to me how Caravaggio revolutionized art by making it real. He was a tortured soul, but his art reflected the pain of real life through his use of darkness. He went against what the church and society wanted to bring a real human side to art. He painted Bacchus, the god of wine who represented fulfillment and satisfaction in the pleasures of life, with rotting fruit as if he was poisoned by his own pleasure.
I fell in love with Caravaggio’s work by hearing Madeline explain it, and it was in this room that I understood the cultural impact of art. This art made a statement about pain, darkness, and imperfection in reality and how that reality has a place in art.
This experience taught me so much about how to analyze and appreciate art, and it made me appreciate Madeline so much more. I plan to take an art history class, because what I walked in the Uffitzi finding so complex and boring, I now find so fascinating and significant.