How do you decide a favourite?

Recently a group of online friends decided to set up a Friday Challenge for ourselves – the #wanafriday challenge. Our first task is to introduce you to a favourite work of art. I found it difficult as you will see – until – like writing – inspiration hit me.

 The Mona Lisa?

Mona Lisa

Image via Leandro Neumann Ciuffo Flikr Creative Commons

Not any more although she once was. She is still very beautiful in her enigmatic way. But so very small and fragile and lonely.

The Sydney Opera House?

Sydney Opera House

Image via Wilf2 Flikr Creative Commons

The Opera House is very familiar, perhaps even too familiar. Every now and then though I realise what a wonderful piece of art it is.  Spectacular, breath-taking, and nearly impossible to photograph. (You don’t know how long it took to find this picture among the thousands available.)  My Aunt lived across the Harbour for years and when I travelled down to visit in each school holiday I’d stand at the laundry window (of all places) or climb up onto the apartment roof and stare, intrigued by the changes, by what was being revealed as the scaffolding came down. But again – a favourite? Not quite.

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

Image via Ivo Jansch Flikr Creative Commons

Yes. She comes close, very, very close. I’ve never seen her, but I don’t need to – I know exactly how she feels and what she’s thinking as she stands there spinning the clouds (pneuma) into the life force – the thread of life. It is an idea which imbues the statue with a depth and meaning beyond the surface and for me that is the essence of art.

I have no idea if this spinning theory has yet been discredited academically, but whenever I spindle spin my arms and shoulders are exactly in the position hers are in and so I choose to believe the theory true. Perhaps there is even a little of her in all spinners?

So to answer my own question – for something to become a “favourite” there needs to be a sense of empathy, something above, beyond, below and within the artwork which resonates at a particular time – a thread of unknown origin reaching out to bind me to it.

How about you? How do you decide what a favourite is?

This week’s #wanafriday participants – have a look:

Ellen Gregory

Liv Rancourt

Linda Adams

Rabia Gale

Siri Paulson

Cora Ramos

Kim Griffin

13 thoughts on “How do you decide a favourite?

  1. Pingback: Botticelli’s Venus | Ellen Gregory

  2. I think it’s a gut instinct. What makes you feel something. When you can’t stop looking at it. (Of course, you don’t have to limit a favourite to just one!)

    I agree — that’s a great picture of the Opera House.

    • I can relate your comment back to my reading choices too – doesn’t seem to matter how technically good a piece is if it doesn’t grab you some way it’s all just academic.

  3. I have to say that a lesser-known work has more of a chance with me. I like the feeling of forging a connection with an object that millions of people have never seen or heard of. I can admire the skill in a famous work of art, but most don’t touch me like their less notorious cousins.

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  5. I think I was about as far back as you were in taking a photo of the Mona Lisa. I so wished I’d been able to get closer. It’s a fascinating painting.

    I’ve never seen the Sydney Opera House in person. It’s one of the places I plan to get to in the near future.

    As for me and favorites, well, I don’t do so well with the superlative-type of questions. I tend to feel like it pins me down too much, like I can’t change my answer if I want. I know that’s not true, but still I find it hard to pick just one piece of art out of the millions that are out there.

    • If you’re lucky enough to fly into Sydney over the harbour it’s one of the bests sights I’ve ever seen huge blue harbour – beaches, sandstone cliffs, startlingly white opera house, The Bridge. and if it’s Boxing Day then there’ll be the sailing boats everywhere for the start of the Sydney to Hobart race.
      Hmm perhaps a bit heavy on the superlatives?
      Choosing the art was difficult because I seem to forget so much and even then it seems to be mood related – what I choose today may not be what I like next year.

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  8. The Venus de Milo reminded me of a sculpture we got on loan in the National Art Gallery in Washington, DC. I love sculpture more than paintings because it has a texture I can really see. The marble statues of that era had marvelous smooth texture that makes cloth look like cloth and muscles look like muscles. I can be seen at the NGA wandering around the sculptures inspecting them for all angles, because that’s what they’re meant for.

    • I think I agree with you Linda about sculpture, it the tactile aspect that draws me. You’re lucky to have access to wonderful galleries where you are.

  9. How I decide my favorite is when something makes me feel and it sticks with me, making me think about it over and over without tiring of it.

    All three of the ones you have chosen, I would like to see ~ all of them lovely in their own right.

    • “without tiring of it” I like that way of putting it. Sometimes there’s an instant connection but it disappears almost as soon as it arrives. But sometimes a work of art, visual, performance, literary can haunt you for years and then “favourite” just doesn’t seem to be the right word for it.

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