The Ordinary is ExtraordinaryCourtesy Phaidon Press Inc.
Woman in Blue Reading a Letter: Johannes Vermeer, c. 1663
“Vermeer celebrates everyday life: Here, a woman who seems nice stands by the window and reads a letter. It wasn’t simple to paint that picture, but the message is quite simple: Ordinary life is OK. We’re so surrounded by images of glamour that we’re constantly made to feel that our own lives are not as important. Vermeer shows that ordinary life and people are beautiful and interesting.”
There’s Hope in BeautyCourtesy Phaidon Press Inc.
The Water-Lily Pond: Claude Monet, 1899
“This Monet (and variations of it) is one of the most popular works in the world. Sometimes the art elite get offended that people prefer pretty paintings. They say, ‘What about war, what about crisis …?’ I see it a different way. Pretty images give us hope and an ability to get on with life. Sometimes a work of beauty can give you encouragement to get through the next five minutes.”
A Moment’s PeaceAnsel Adams Publishing Rights Trust/Corbis/courtesy Phaidon Press Inc.
Aspens, Dawn, Autumn, Dolores River Canyon, Colorado: Ansel Adams, 1937
“Art can also make us feel less alone with the melancholy stuff of life. This Ansel Adams image has a sad message, which is that seasons wax and wane, and we’re all fated to go the way of the leaves. What do we do with that sadness? Adams’s photograph creates a space where our melancholy and anxious feelings can be held, almost like a loved one hugging you. And that gives us a moment of peace, calm, and restoration.”
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