The hushed reverence of the gallery can fool you into believing masterpieces are polite things, visions that soothe, charm and beguile, but actually they are thugs. Merciless and wily, the greatest paintings grab you in a headlock, rough up your composure and then procees in short order to re-arrange your sense of reality.
— Simon Schama
Sofonisba Anguissola was a famous female Renaissance painter. I hardly know anything about anything, and had never heard of her (or didn't recall her). A book I'm reading about art and design went into a little detail about her life, and mentioned this portrait she did of herself as if painted by her mentor Bernadino Campi. I looked it up online. Though taking a painting in via computer monitor (actually, a smartphone) is awful with often terrible renditions of the colors and textures, this image made me laugh while eating in a restaurant. Then I felt really won over by the personality and wit of making us regard the painting as if we are Anguissola ourselves.
Sometimes when apprehending a work of art, it goes SPLAT on your consciousness and you can detect at that moment its effect will stay around with you. This was one of those moments.
Several months ago, I felt a need to dea with a portrait by John Singer Sargent by trying to write out a scenario that was part of a dream I had. During a hasty four-hour museum drive-by in the Art Institute of Chicago (airport layover) the painting held me in place in aesthetic arrest. Museum visits usually go way too quickly - wanting to witness everything in a compressed span of time. Taking mental (or camera) snapshots, but not having time to let the art in to be apprehended.
Good art is sticky.