Intimacy and Art
JOURNAL / Culture
Journal / Culture
Art invites intimacy into our lives. We have long used art to express our ideas, emotions and imagination.
While public displays of art are social institutions that invite us to think critically of our society, art in the home can be a deeply personal affair. Free from external pressures, we display art – paintings, photographs, memorabilia – for reasons that represent who we are or strive to be.
Art is communication
Artists communicate their ideas, longings and imaginings through their art. However, a work of art “does not exist until it has reached a state upon which it can make a sensory impact on others”. Like all communication, art is a two-way street. Without using words, art can be a way to express who you are to both yourself and others. In this way, art can be especially useful for encouraging dialogue on topics that can be hard to voice. Whether it’s your values or aspects of your personality, art helps us to forge deeper connections through communication.
“The Storm is one of my favourite paintings in the world. And I actually had a humongous poster of it up in my apartments… Looking back on it…it really was a kind of advertisement to anybody who walked into my apartment, any potential suitor, that I was a die-hard romantic…”
Nadja Hansen from Date Night at the Met
Experiencing art is intimacy
Art is the expression of human emotion in material form, delivered from the artist to you. The artist creates the work, but in their act of observing and capturing aspects of intimacy, they connect us personally to the work. This connection happens in the experience of art – in the space separating form and self where art evokes emotion.
Art provides us with the time and space to recognise and validate our emotions. In doing so, we open ourselves up to vulnerability, to conversation, to connection. The experience of art is thus a moment of emotional intimacy.
“Emotion for the sake of emotion is the aim of art, and emotion for the sake of action is the aim of life” – Oscar Wilde.
Art Reminds us of the Human Scale
In modern societies, we live in environments far removed from those of our ancestors. We no longer live in closely connected communities, nor use the ceremonial arts to address our serious concerns. Our homes are filled with objects, most manufactured by machines, and although useful, they often lack human elements.
Amongst the fast-pace of modern life, art encourages us to show that we care about the important things – the human parts of life. With all forms of art, you feel a sense of the effort and skill of its creation, or with sentimental items, we are transported back to a moment of human connection. In works which make the artist’s hand expressly visible, such as in terracotta sculpture or Impressionist painting, we are reminded of the human behind the work.
Art reminds us of the artists who engage in deep personal or financial sacrifices for the love of their craft, and regularly open themselves up to vulnerability by displaying their works. They show us that to be vulnerable, is to be human. However, to be vulnerable is not easy:
“Vulnerability is hard, and we, as a rule, tend to go for what’s easy; by that logic, closing ourselves off is the easiest thing in the world. We quote the words of others to do our talking for us, send each other links to articles and stories in lieu of actual conversation, post pretty pictures to adequately convey our current state of mind, all to avoid having to proffer a single identifiable human emotion.”
― Phil Roland
The artists show us that vulnerability is something worth doing.
Art in the home serves as both a mirror for ourselves to recognise and validate our emotion and identity, and also a means through which others can understand us. In this way, art invites us to experience intimacy. Therein lies the beauty of art.