Museo del Prado can keep one busy for a week or more. The size and richness of its collections is amazing; each exhibit carries loads of artistic information and stories that can be told about it. Since we didn’t have all the time in the world we saw only masterpieces carefully selected by the school master.
Who would you rather be – Diego Velázquez or Francisco Goya?
They were both of good status and acknowledgement, both of great talent and ability, both court painters for the Spanish crown, around 200 years apart. One of the differences between them relates to their choices of expression – what they chose to comment about through their art and how they did it.
Velázquez seems to have chosen to stick to courtly matters although painting some earthly scenes too; Goya seems to have chosen to be the commentator of his period, creating some tantalizing works of art, although paying his duty to the crown. Their style is obviously different, highly mastered in any case.
Who would you rather be – Joseph Haydn or Ludwig van Beethoven?
Standing between Velázquez and Goya reminded me about Haydn and Beethoven; the first creating within the rules, the second breaking the rules of his time. Did Haydn lack passion and creativity? No, although some people think differently. Haydn wrote some highly expressive pieces; try the first movement of symphony No. 44 for instance – it touches here and there on the dark side. Then go and listen to the first movement of symphony No. 6 by Beethoven – walking the very bright side of life. As the above two, Haydn kept to his ‘organizational’ role, Beethoven often commented about the period.
Who would you rather be as a storyteller?
Obviously, my mind wondered in this direction too. Once upon a time there were storytellers who worked for courts. What could be their choices of expression concerning the above? Let’s assume (also because we have the evidence) that some of them chose flattery and praise but also touched upon earthly issues once in a while – not all ancient stories praise heroes and kings; some of them criticize them heavily and get them into quite a lot of trouble. At the same time we know from evidence that there were storytellers who chose to speak from their subconscious which cannot be completely tamed or always ‘nice’; some chose to tell difficult stories. If you remember that storytelling happens together with a live audience sitting only meters apart from you – that was quite a bumpy ride, a strong, somewhat dangerous endeavor that required the ability to channel a lot of difficult feelings while leaving the audience almost intact.
Who would you rather be as a storyteller now-days? Court tellers – well, I don’t know if any exist anymore but modern life still confronts us with hierarchal situations and entities one might think need to be pleased. What path of expression would you choose?