Daily Archives: April 23, 2008

Do people notice an art masterpiece on the street?

I blogged earlier about the fascinating story of a world class violinist playing in the Washington Subway (“Pearls Before Breakfast: can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out” (Washington Post, 4/8/07, p. w10, Gene Weingarten) The story was indirectly about the cocoons that we live in such that 1000 commuters in Washington, DC, almost without exception, didn’t hear or stop to listen to the sublime beauty of violin virtuoso Joshua Bell who was busking in the Washington Metro as an experiment. One has to assume that these cocoons affect not only hearing Joshua Bell but also our ability to connect with friends and strangers.

Now comes a related experiment. If you put up a world class painting (by Tuymans) on a pedestrian street in Antwerp (in Belgium) will people stop to notice it?

See the results:

The art experiment either also indicates the cocoons we live in, or indicates that we only recognize true ‘art’ when someone tells us it is art by hanging it in a museum.

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