1. Go to museums alone. Seeing takes concentration and calm.
2. Don’t try to see everything. Pick a few rooms and choose one painting.
3. Minimize distractions. Pick an uncrowded room and work in good light.
4. Take your time. Sit, relax, get up, come back, expect that it may take a long time for a painting to speak to you.
5. Pay full attention. Give the work what Fried called, ‘absorption.’
6. Do your own thinking. Read, study, but when it comes to looking, just look and make up your own mind.
7. Be on the lookout for people who are really looking, not simply browsing and checking labels. Observe them without disturbing them. If you can talk to them without disturbing them, do so.
8. Be faithful. Return to paintings you’ve spent time with.
James Elkins, Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings
This potsherd from 475 BC was found on the island of Elephantine, close to the border between Egypt and Nubia, which was home to a small, close-knit Jewish community at the time.
It reads; “To Hoshaya. Greetings! Take care of the children until Ahutab gets there. Don’t trust anyone else with them! If the flour for your bread has been ground, make a small portion of dough to last until their mother gets there. Let me know when you will be celebrating Pascha (Passover). Tell me how the baby is doing!”
Besides a wonderfully evocative peek inside a daily conversation, the sherd contains one of the earliest non-biblical references to #Passover. Passover commemorates the liberation of the ancient Israelites from Egypt and is observed annually by Jewish people all over the world. This year, Passover began on 19 April and ends 27 April.
Find out more about this sherd and many other fascinating objects relating to Judaism in our collection with our Jewish Journey trail, or pick up a copy of The Jewish Journey by Rebecca Abrams in our shop.
listen. camp is originated as an aesthetic and an action taken by gender non conforming gay men as an act of resistance against heteropatriarchy. it found a place in black drag subcultures and was immortalized in art and fashion history by a bisexual jewish woman. its a multicultural working class phenomenon and theres something actually really gross about all of these wildly rich straight people completely missing the point of it or deciding that looking sexy for instagram is more important than engaging with camp as a movement. just stay home at that point.
The more things change, the more things stay the same
The curse-words and obscenities of most bygone eras are lost because people do everything they can to not record them and then hundreds or thousands of years later it creates the appearance everyone was more civilized back then.
It was an extremely common practice to airbrush, doctor, and redefine the waists of the earliest photos of models and aristocratic women taken in the 1890s on up – we’ve been photoshopping and instagram filtering since photography existed.
Mozart literally had a song called
Leck mich im Arsch
which means “lick me in the ass (right well and clean)” - essentially “kiss my ass” and musicians of the day were not all the epitome of class and purity we like to remember them as. – We actually have a lot of documentation on whether or not he had a scat fetish.
We literally found scat-porn roleplay letters sent back and forth between two famous people in 1900 where they stopped mid scene to argue because she’s not into that way and doesn’t know why he keeps bringing it into these letters.
There were literally ancient poets who were essentially modern day rappers, they wrote poetry that was obscene and about street cred, dissing other poets.
Shakespeare used yo-mama jokes and was the king of childish humor. He basically invented women’s teen-drama romance fiction we all think is new.
Great grandpa's “men in lingerie” collections get unearthed sometimes.
(Vander Clyde as “Barbette” ca.1920)
We have 4,000 year old angry yelp reviews about shady business practices etched into stone tablets warning other buyers not to get supplies from them.
There are complaints about how “kids these days” don’t know how to use a stone chisel, concerned that “paper is going to run out” one day and that the youths will be lost because they don’t know how to properly carve stone.
There’s penis graffiti carved into Roman monuments by teenagers of that time and images of anarchy / rebellion that can only be explained by ancient punks.
The oldest artistic artifacts we know about are boobie depictions and dildos.
People have never changed. We were human then as we are human now.