More than once I have had people cry when looking at one of my images. I have always felt that an emotional response to art work of any kind was a wonderful thing. I’ve had similar response to movies and even while reading, but never to a painting, photograph, or sculpture. I was fascinated to find that art historian James Elkins had actually examined the subject of crying in front of artwork in a book he titled Pictures and Tears (Toutledge, 2001).
In his book, Elkins writes, “Paintings repay the attention they are given”, “the more you look, the more you feel”. I like this notion and suspect that it is true. But how often do we actually spend time looking at one particular picture?
At a show this past summer, a woman came into my booth and then left. A little while later she returned to buy a canvas giclee of mine — Summer Breeze. She told me that when she left my booth thinking about this picture, she began to cry. She had to come back and purchase the piece. She told me that she didn’t know why she responded the way she did.
“Crying is often a mystery, and for that matter so is not crying” writes Elkins. I am still working through the book, I’m finding it fascinating. I don’t expect to find any ultimate answers as to why certain people respond with tears to certain art works. I am humbled however, that I have made pictures which have elicited such a response.
Summer Breeze is available on my gallery online HERE
2 thoughts on “Pictures and Tears”
Crying, or at least feeling tears well up, is a wondrous feeling when looking at art. I can only offer this: there is something that I deeply recognize (the best words I can find) in certain works of art, and in turn it just grabs a part of my soul. And usually, it happens quite quickly. Other times, it’s a bit more cerebral; amazed at what the artist captured in the work – I usually respond when the artist captures man’s finest qualities or when the mysteries of nature are revealed just a bit more and I feel closer to it.
Materese, thank you for your wonderful reply. I find the subject of human response to art fascinating.