Return to Articles

JUDITH CHRISTENSEN


My passion is, unquestionably, contemporary art. Often, it’s more out of duty than desire that I visit museums or exhibitions that focus on historical art works. But a little over a year ago, downstairs at the Prado, I encountered half a dozen of Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings. I was awestruck at seeing them, even though the images were as familiar as any from the history of art. How could this painter, whose vision was so infused with 15th-16th century Christian symbolism, speak to me so powerfully? I looked, I left, I returned again and again to experience the density of his imagery, the intensity of the angst embodied in the figures and the tension that the interplay between the real and the imaginary created. It was one of those rare moments I, as an art critic, live for. I’m always on the prowl, searching for that artwork that will grab me and put my brain, my whole psyche, in a choke-hold--one from which I will never be released. And you never know, in advance, where such experiences are to be found.