Kindred Art – Art That Speaks To Me Loudest

Wednesday is a busy day for me – rush to work in the morning, work all day, spend the evening at a buddies house, pick up some groceries, and finally make it home around 9 pm.

pencil sketch of my hand

Pencil Sketch from my sketch book

After getting laundry in the washer, I finally had time to myself around 9:15. Time to draw. I put on some music, got out my pencils, and started drawing the nearest thing to me, my other hand.

Let me back up half a sentence, because this bit gets to what I’m writing about today. I didn’t just put on some music, I put on Mahler, Das Lied Von Der Erde.

Gustav Mahler is a favorite composer, when I listen to his music, I feel like it was written about me. I first heard Mahler in a bookstore, at one of those “CD preview” machines, listening with headphones. Within the first two minutes of the 9th symphony, I was enthralled. If you want to know what what it is to feel both the pain and beauty of life (at the same time), listen to Mahler’s 9th.

As I drew, I thought about kindred artists. Every now and then, I will find art that I feel was made for me, or about me. The art captures something better than I can explain myself. I seem to find these few and far between, but when I first encountered Mahler, his music was this kind of art.

(Strangely, it is rare that visual arts enthrall me like this. Every now and then something will really stand out to me, but I usually don’t understand why. I can’t figure out why I can stare at Mark Rothko’s “color field” paintings all day, but I can. I’ve been casually reading Rothko’s book, The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art, to figure this out.)

The poetry of E.E. Cummings strikes me in this way. His organization of words is the most similar to the way I feel about the world that I have read. This was another instance when I knew within minutes that I found something that resonated with me. I read Since Feeling Is First, and I knew that whatever that was true for him, that made him write those words, was also true for me.

I finished up my work in my sketch book for the night as Das Lied Von Der Erde finished, I put my clothes into the dryer, and ate the dinner that was heating in the oven.

My CD player switched to the next CD, Mahler’s 9th. I grabbed 100 Selected Poems, sat on my window sill by the fire escape, smoked a cigarette, and read.

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Is there an artist or artists whose work strikes you especially strongly? I’m curious. Leave a comment if you’d like, let’s talk about it.

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A note about recordings: I linked above to the Pierre Boulez recording of Das Lied Von Der Erde. It is a decent performance, and a modern recording. I bought it mainly because I like Pierre Boulez’s work on the rest of Mahler’s Symphonies. I highly recommend Das Lied von der Erde conducted by Bruno Walter, however. It is a much older recording, but the performance is outstanding. I have this recording on vinyl, I haven’t gotten the remastered CD yet, but reviews I have read seem to indicate the remaster is quite good. It sounds phenomenal on vinyl. If you want to hear the 9th, I like Mahler, Symphony 9, conducted by Pierre Boulez. I’ve also got Leonard Bernstein’s recording of the 9th, but it doesn’t seem to have the urgency that I like so much in Boulez’s recording.

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