The pleasure of beholding: the visitor's museum

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ACTAR, Apr 1, 1998 - Architecture - 272 pages
In The Pleasure of Beholding, Eulaia Bosch proposes to look "aloud" at art and the experience of visiting a museum. Drawing both from the history of aesthetics and from her own empirical experience as a museum curator and teacher, Bosch leads her readers through a series of mediations on the questions that we ask ourselves -- implicitly and explicitly -- when we behold a work of art. The questions she articulates range from philosophical inquiries into the nature of creativity and perception to paradoxical encounters with particular art works as well as museum installations. "Why, " she asks, for example, "is it so difficult to keep our eyes on a morally intolerable image? Why is it so easy to keep our eyes on an image that carries an implicit message of well-being?" And in a wonderful chapter on children's experience of art and museums entitled "Contemporary Art is Also for Contemporary People, " she calls into question assumptions about how young people look at art and encourages parents andeducators to engage children's natural curiosity: "Children can leave questions unanswered for a longer time than adults can without feeling awkward, " as she remarks. Throughout the book, in thoughtful, jargon-free prose, Bosch moves freely from ancient tribal statues to Van Eyck paintings to contemporary performance pieces in choosing her examples, all the while asking us to think through some of the big questions about art and life along with her. This is one of those rare books that engages both the everyday museum-goer and the serious art student and museum professional.

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