Art Appreciation 101

by Coco St. George From the moment our forefather Pookh stamped the palm of his hand on the walls of his cave, up to the time Banksy felt compelled to […]

by Coco St. George

From the moment our forefather Pookh stamped the palm of his hand on the walls of his cave, up to the time Banksy felt compelled to do something not too much different in the streets of London, art has been a key factor in people’s lives. We could even go further and say it’s been a decisive element in the evolution of mankind.

We can only speculate about the motivation the cavemen had to decorate the walls of their caves with all sort of paintings. Some think it served a magical purpose: If the drawings on the wall depicted an animal being hunted down, that animal would be hunted down also in real life. But there was also a will to preserve their memories. The paintings on the wall, thus, would serve as a pictorial record of the most memorable exploits achieved by our forefathers. And we cannot dismiss a simpler explanation: Cavemen decorated their caves with paintings because that way they looked prettier. Just like we do in our modern lives, where we hang the portraits of our loved departed to preserve their memory, a sacred image to feel the connection with a higher power, or the painting of a landscape just because it’s beautiful.

Yes, art has been with us for so long, that we could say it is part of our DNA, and we couldn’t imagine a life without it. Nor we can imagine a Second Life without it, either. That’s why we can find a lot of sims devoted to different manifestations of art. And some of them are worth visiting more than once.

When we think of the aesthetic pleasure of watching paintings, we think of museums and galleries. And if you’re looking for art, you can’t miss The Vordun (Fancy Décor (134, 107, 28) (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Fancy%20Decor/134/107/28), one of the best organized art museums in SL. You only need to see this imposing building to realize these people know what they are doing. The museum features several temporal exhibitions, so you can visit it often to watch the new pieces.

 

Buddha of Bamiyan

As you cross the threshold, you are offered an experience you need to accept in order to get a HUD. This HUD will be your audio guide in the main gallery, where currently you can admire 300 years of paintings by the greatest European masters. Each of the 28 paintings is identified by a number. After clicking that number in your HUD you’ll hear an explanation (which also appears as text in nearby chat) about that particular painting.

There is also a room devoted to one painting: “Netherlandish Proverbs” by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, a piece of art full to the brim with people, animals, and all kind of things. If you look very closely, you’ll find depicted 112 Netherlandish proverbs in this work. Of course, in this case there is also a HUD to guide you: press Start to make the camera focus on a particular part of the scene, and have the proverb explained in chat. Keep clicking Next to see all of them. Even those who can’t speak Flemish (“Flemish Proverbs” is another name for this painting, as well as “The Blue Cloak”) will certainly enjoy the wit and wisdom embodied in these sayings.

The Vordun has several galleries and you’ll want to visit them all. And before you leave, remember to visit the gift shop to take home a souvenir from this wonderful place.

Abu Simbel at Museum Island

Now, if you are looking for museums in SL, visiting Museum Island, Whatever (117, 205, 23) is a must. And you know you’re on the right track when, upon your arrival, you’re standing before the Arch of Constantine and being greeted by the Colossus of Rhodes, no less.

This is a very different kind of museum, featuring reproductions of some of the most celebrated structures from all over the world: The Tower of Hercules, Trajan’s Column, the Tomb of Nefertari, the Oracle of Delphos, and the Cave of the Sibyl, among many others.

Mausoleum in Helicarnassus at Museum Island

There is nothing here you won’t enjoy watching, and you could spend several days exploring all the attractions, reading the explanations (offered both in English and Italian for the benefit of those familiar with Dante’s tongue), and even delving deeper on Wikipedia and other online resources. Be sure to visit the House of the Tragic Poet, a beautiful reconstruction of a Pompeii home destroyed in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. You can appreciate there the renowned “Cave Canem” mosaic (Beware of the dog) at the entrance of this small and yet heavily decorated house. And you can even see the volcano in the background, still smoking and spewing lava.

Abu Simbel at Museum Island

 

Walking through the gardens, admiring the majestic buildings, you can’t help but wonder what our lives (both analogical and digital) would be like without the wonderful gift of art. And so we recognize we’re lucky just to be able to appreciate these works of art right here, from the comfort of our homes.