Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Violinist on the Subway

Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world, played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

What's unusual about this is not what he played but where he played it:

in the DC Metro during rush hour.

Only a few people stopped to notice, with the exception of children.


I think this experiment illustrates why marketing is so important, to keep quality art alive for humanity over the long term and prevent knowledge from being lost as it was in painting in the 20th century. Sometimes folks just need to be told that the art is art. People who care about art need to make the case for it to the public. An important task of the artist is to teach and educate; to act as a custodian for the accumulated knowledge that has been handed down from previous generations of artists, and to pass it on.

Modern people live hectic busy lives isolated from art and nature and alienated from a regular experience of beauty. They don't see it if left to their own devices without someone to point the way, even if they literally walk past it on the metro.

It is interesting to note however that children did naturally respond, which for me backs up Tolstoy's idea that simplicity and clarity are key attributes of all great art, as opposed to the obfuscation and intentional incoherence we see so often today.

1 comment:

beth said...

I hope that I would have stopped.