Soundtrack to an Exhibition: Part 3

By Harry Ewbank

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of Harry’s Soundtrack; a new way of accessing Modern Art. He’s selected a song for one piece in each of the 13 rooms of the Tate’s permanent exhibition ‘At the Studio’, and written 3 interpretations. Here is the final instalment:

Room 9:

Claude Monet – Water Lilies

Coldplay – Don’t Panic

The art establishment is highly suspicious of niceness. If you express an interest in Monet or Matisse, most highbrow art fans will try and direct you to the likes of Kiefer or Beuys. Art is a deeply serious matter to them and there is no place for pretty pictures. They would argue that beautiful paintings showing lots of loveliness are dangerous and don’t address the harshness of life and being human. A pretty picture is superficial and causes you to turn a blind eye to devastation throughout the world, they say.

Larry Miller via Flickr and Creative Commons

However, these types of paintings are in fact incredibly rich in meaning and perhaps the most important form of art. There is a reason why Monet’s ‘Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies’, housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is the most popular and frequently purchased postcard in museums across the world. Most of us aren’t suffering from a lack of awareness of what is worth weeping over. In fact, it is quite the opposite. We are perhaps more in need of reminding that there are beautiful things in our lives. The reason we seek out these paintings in galleries is often because we find that we are deprived of beauty within our lives. Monet’s waterlilies are not blind to sadness but fully aware of it.

Like the waterlilies, the opening song to Coldplay’s first album is simple in its message. Chris Martin’s lyrics in the first verse address the sadness of life but vaguely enough not to sadden us. Instead of dwelling on the details of the things that dishearten us, Martin reminds us in the chorus that,

“We live in a beautiful world. Yeah we do! Yeah we do!”

He chooses not to indulge in his awareness of what’s sad in life but reminds us that life is, in fact, incredible. Our spirits are raised during the time we spend looking at Monet’s paintings of his garden. After spending an hour looking at his works, we can leave the gallery with a spring in our step and our faith in humanity restored.


If you want to check out Harry’s Spotify playlist then click on the link here.


Photograph: Konrad Lembcke via Flickr and Creative Commons

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