I love reading stuff which makes me think about stuff I think I already know.
I love having to turn to the dictionary because I've just hit a word which might be a made up one for all I know.
I love reading New York Times Arts writer, Michael Kimmelman, for all of the above reasons.
Kimmelman is not afraid to use the very plain "awful timing" in the same sentence with the much more sophisticated "symbolic culmination." He makes no apologies for describing the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as being "in hot water" or for putting his museum colleagues in "the same jam" while throwing in such five syllable mind benders as "disputatious," "balkanization," and "hagiographic." And who but Kimmelman can get away with saying, "Any old Monet show. . . ."
Arts writers everywhere have reported about the announced retirement of Philippe de Montebello after 30 years as director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By comparison, they are just reporting. Kimmelman gives us a gift; the gift of a man and his Museum. He quotes de Montebello who described the Museum as ". . . the mystery, the wonder, the presence of the real that is our singular distinction and that we should proudly, joyfully proclaim." He compares this director and his Museum with the previous director, Thomas Hoving, a mad genius who left an "insatiable, acquisitive, blockbuster-besotted, mass-entertainment palace." He gives human qualities to de Montebello with word pictures such "bully pulpit," "plummy baritone voice," "(swooning) bookish women" and "basic good sense" which lets us understand the palpable presence in the Museum that we feel. He conjures images and memories as he writes about the legacy of this director and calls the Met "simply one of the nation’s grandest achievements."
The last time I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, I was accompanied by Flat Stanley with an assignment from a second grade class in rural Georgia. I 'saw' things which the children might enjoy. Next time I visit, I will be accompanied by the words of Michael Kimmelman and the spirit of Philippe de Montebello. I think I will see and feel a different space.
Yes, I think I am in love.
- o - o - o - o - o - o -Notes:
Read the whole Kimmelman article here
Read my Flat Stanley story here
(photo: Annette and Flat Stanley at the Met)