Last Friday while out and about I listened to architect Renzo Piano’s interview on WBEZ Chicago Public Radio’s 8:48. I found the part of the interview where Piano talked about his personal relationship to art to be particularly memorable. When architecture critic Ed Keegan asked him what he looks for in an artwork, Piano replied:

“I learned not to think too much. I (look at) a piece of art the same way I listen to a piece of music. Just submitting myself to the subconscious. There is a moment where you have to accept that, to switch from rational to irrational, to instinct. In art… you recognize something but you don’t have to understand what you recognize. I was contemplating a beautiful Rothko. I love that artist, but how can you explain why you love that piece of art? It’s just feeling inside. Of course you move, you stay ten feet then you get closer, five feet. Then you get away, far away, and every time you move your head, and your body, you understand and you discover something else. It’s like a universe. It’s fantastic.”

You can listen to the full interview here. And here is a link to an image of the stunning Mark Rothko painting that’s currently on view in the Art Institute of Chicago’s new Modern Wing. To look at it up close is to feel like you’re swallowing the sun.

Of course, now you can go to the Modern Wing and see it all yourself, in person, and for free until May 22nd!

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.